Around a year ago, COVID-19 turned our world upside down. We were brought into lockdown and had to stay constantly put in the same environment, distant from friends and extended family. We had to isolate, maintain social distancing, worked from home and some also lost their job. One year later, we are once again in very similar waters. We have been captured by uncertainty and there is nothing we can do about it. Our mental, emotional and physical health are being tested on a daily basis.
Children and adolescents have been experiencing all of this at higher degrees than us adults. However, adults who have been studying have been experiencing difficulties too. This year, we are once again experiencing school and university closures. This, alongside adjusting to an online learning system, being indoors with family members, to being away from people and friends, has been impacting our students’ mental health and wellbeing (Volkin, 2020).
Studying in itself requires self-discipline and motivation. However, in such trying times, the ability to focus and stay motivated have been further affected. Self-isolation in itself contributes to low levels of motivation and energy (EHL Insights, n.d.). When being isolated, it may be easier to let go of our routines, studies, self-care, eating and sleeping patterns, social life, relationships, and so on. Our level of motivation has been strongly impacted and maintaining it may have proved to be a more difficult task than usual.
Motivation is that which drives us to achieve our tasks and goals, to feel self-accomplished and to improve our quality of life. The following tips can help you remain motivated in your online studies:
- Acknowledge the current situation
Living through a pandemic is not easy and it requires us to adjust and adapt continuously. Tune into and acknowledge your feelings and your current situation, including your energy and motivation levels. Focus on the aspects you can control. Abdominal breathing techniques are also useful to ground yourself and to gain mental clarity.
2. Create a study space
According to NAU Canada Online (n.d.), studying from the sofa or the bed may be comfortable, however, it does not usually generate productivity. Finding and creating a dedicated study area, no matter how small, can help you increase your motivation and foster good work habits. Make sure that your space is comfortable enough to work in and is free from distractions. Ideally, this includes a desk and it is an organized and well-lit space. Adding a personal touch to it might make you want to spend time there too. Reserving this space solely for studying and getting it organized beforehand, can also aid in getting you into the right mindset to study and focus.
3. Set structure
Create a schedule for yourself, including any breaks you plan to take. Following this can help you get into a routine which is very impactful on motivation (Pivić, 2020). Furthermore, it will help you to commit to your studies (Jeno, 2020). A “to-do” list can also help you to set further structure, whereby you can list everything and prioritize your needs (ibid.).
4. Set SMART goals
In this uncertainty, we may find ourselves having no direction and trying to be motivated can feel pointless. Creating SMART goals, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely goals can help you create or regain a direction, structure, and motivation (Boring-Bray, 2020). Goals can include study related tasks, but also allocating time for excercising and self-care, and other daily commitments.
Try your best to focus during any lessons or lectures. Take notes, try to be an active participant and ask questions when needed. This will help you remain engaged and to take all that you can through learning.
6. Acknowledge the wins
Finishing off any assignments or exams, meeting any goals and completing your “to-do” list, are all small victories in their own way. However, do not be afraid to celebrate them. Acknowledge these achievements through sharing your successes or rewarding yourself. This further creates positive energy and it increases internal motivation (NAU Canada Online, n.d.).
If you are busy with studies, this can become overwhelming and here, it is possible that you neglect your personal life. Try to create a balance of studies, breaks, self-care, rest, exercise, family and social life. It may not be an easy task, however trying to maintain a healthy balance will help you to maintain positivity, motivation, and focus (NAU Canada Online, n.d.).
For the Parents:
Communicate with your children and acknowledge the situation and their feelings. Help them organize a space in which they can study in. Help them to structure their day and create a routine. Set SMART goals for them, encourage them to focus, acknowledge the small victories they make and reward them. Lastly, make sure that they are taking a break from screen time every now and then, engaging in fun activities and connecting with family and peers. All this contributes to maintaining a healthy balance and this can further give them the energy and motivation to do their best during such times.
Michela Aquilina is a trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist who is currently reading for a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy at the Gestalt Psychotherapy Training Institute Malta (GPTIM) and is working as a Trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist with Willingness Team. Michela offers therapy to young adults and adults who are experiencing various challenges and issues relating to mental health and psychosocial, emotional wellbeing.
Boring-Bray, W. (2020, August 26). 6 ways to rediscover motivation during COVID-19. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/new-beginning/202008/6-ways-rediscover-motivation-during-covid-19
EHL Insights, (n.d.). COVID-19: Staying motivated and warding away low mood. Retrieved from: https://hospitalityinsights.ehl.edu/covid-19-staying-motivated
Jeno, L. M. (2020, November 5). Motivational tips for studying at home. University of Bergen. Retrieved from: https://www.uib.no/en/corona/135607/motivational-tips-studying-home
NAU Canada Online (n.d.). 8 ways to stay motivated when studying online. Retrieved from: https://canada.national.edu/8-ways-to-stay-motivated-when-studying-online/
Pivić, D. (2020, April 23). Studying and finding motivation during a pandemic. LSE: The London School of Economics and Political Science. Retrieved from: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/management/2020/04/23/studying-and-finding-motivation-during-a-pandemic/
Volkin, S. (2020, May 11). The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on adolescents. John Hopkins University. Retrieved from https://hub.jhu.edu/2020/05/11/covid-19-and-adolescents/