How to Stay Motivated During Lockdown ft. COVID-19

Team IIBP Anveshan, Emotional Intelligence, General Psychology, Mental Health, — Issue 10

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

-Winston Churchill

Amidst this seemingly endless lockdown, having lost the motivation to do anything is quite normal. After all, what’s the point of doing anything if you’re waking up just to spend yet another day under house arrest? It’s getting harder for people to find motivation to not just work, but to finish basic survival tasks like waking up on time, working out, making a meal, etc.—things that came pretty easy to them before lockdown. One study conducted on graduating students reported that 60.8% of students faced an increase in anxiety. A majority found it harder to complete the semester at home (60.9%), especially among those who had strained relationships with family (34.1%).

Grappling with the loss of your everyday routine is, in itself, a difficult task, and whatever path you’ve chosen to deal and make peace with it, is perfectly alright. However, if you wish to use this time efficiently, not just to meet a long-term goal, but also to keep yourself busy and distracted, here are few of the things you can do:

  1. Build a Daily Routine: As Epictetus has said, Some things are in our control and others not.”We’ve all experienced the feeling of helplessness during the pandemic, having been powerless to control the destruction happening all around us. The only thing we can control is what we do with ourselves during this time. Focusing our energy on things we can control, like our daily routine, can help us regain some sense of normality. Doing something as simple as waking up early, and making your bed can set you up for the day. The reason why having these intact routines is beneficial is because over time, our brains become adept at performing those tasks automatically, which allows us to put this conserved energy toward achieving goals during the day.
  2. Break your day’s work into manageable chunks. Thinking about everything you need to do in a day can be intimidating. Breaking and listing down all your work into smaller tasks, and tackling them one at a time will help you stay focused at the task at hand and not worry about everything that’s to come. This way you can avoid being overwhelmed and sitting for hours without really getting much done. In fact, a studyconducted on work-from-home employees showed that out of the total participants, 56.7% gave credit to their effective time management during lockdown behind them staying motivated.
  3. Reward yourself after you’ve finished a task.Although you cannot go out and celebrate with your friends like you used to, it’s still a good idea to reward yourself to keep your motivation level high. You can reward yourself even when you’re staying within the walls of your house. You can watch a movie with your friends, have a game night, read a book you’ve always wanted to read, go for a long walk or drive, order in your favourite meal, so on and so forth.
  4. Try to exercise at least 3-4 days a week.If you’re feeling lethargic and unmotivated, doing some exercise can often help you find the energy that you need. Exercise releases endorphins (the happy hormone) which can help to boost your mood. You can go out for a run or try following a home work-out video. If you are not up for a strenuous exercise, then perhaps try doing something like yoga. Mulrine, Prater, Jenkins, (2008) conducted an observational study with students in which the classroom teacher incorporated movement throughout the class that included: classroom transition exercises, lesson energizers and structured movement games. They used an observational checklist pre- and post-exercise intervention. It was found out that exercise throughout the class improved academic performance, focus and reduced disruptive classroom behaviors.
  5. Lastly, ditch your “all or nothing attitude”. This attitude is self-jeopardizing and usually gets you nowhere. If people fail to accomplish one task a day, they feel guilty and disappointed.This sends them into a self-sabotaging cycle and keeps them from getting up the next day and continuing with the routine. Absolutist thinkers see themselves as failures if they make even a tiny error, which removes any opportunity to celebrate small successes or learn from mistakes. For them, anything but absolute perfection is a failure.

In the lockdown, people have often found themselves getting caught up in the productivity culture at some point or the other, which has, more often than not, led to burn-out.  These times are hard enough without the stress of finishing the next big project, or signing the next big contract. Be kind to yourself and don’t forget to give yourself enough off-days. If you want to do all your work through the week and have the weekend off that’s fine. Or, if you want to do your work in bits and pieces throughout the week, that’s fine too. If you start work at 9am or 1pm, both are fine. Don’t mark your expectations against someone else’s productivity levels. Do what works for you.

 

 

 

References:

Seton, E. (2021, February 11). How to stay motivated during lockdown | Student Blog UK | AFS. Accommodation for Students. https://www.accommodationforstudents.com/student-blog/7327 

Ketterer, K. L. (2021, April). Does exercise improve student motivation? Goucher College. https://mdsoar.org/bitstream/handle/11603/21485/KettererKatie_paper.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

McClean, S. T., Koopman, J., Yim, J., & Klotz, A. C. (2020, September 17). How disruptions to our morning routines harm daily productivity, and what we can do about it. LSE Business Review. https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/businessreview/2020/09/17/how-disruptions-to-our-morning-routines-harm-daily-productivity-and-what-we-can-do-about-it/

Reddy, J., Curtis, P., & Seema, R. (2020, September). A Study on Work from Home, Motivation & Productivity of Employees in Indian Population during COVID-19 Pandemic. Research Gate. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Prettysha-Curtis/publication/344266773_A_Study_on_Work_from_Home_Motivation_Productivity_of_Employees_in_Indian_Population_during_COVID-19_Pandemic/links/5f61efb3a6fdcc116415d08b/A-Study-on-Work-from-Home-Motivation-Productivity-of-Employees-in-Indian-Population-during-COVID-19-Pandemic.pdf

Ashley, S. (2021, January 27). 6 Signs Your ‘All-or-Nothing Thinking’ Is Getting in Your Own Way (& How to Break the Habit). PureWow. https://www.purewow.com/wellness/all-or-nothing-thinking 

About the Author

name: Kashish Kukreja

When I’m not procrastinating or being knee deep in the latest web series, I like to read and write. I’m currently a student, pursuing psychology (honours) from Ambedkar University, Delhi.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

-Winston Churchill

Amidst this seemingly endless lockdown, having lost the motivation to do anything is quite normal. After all, what’s the point of doing anything if you’re waking up just to spend yet another day under house arrest? It’s getting harder for people to find motivation to not just work, but to finish basic survival tasks like waking up on time, working out, making a meal, etc.—things that came pretty easy to them before lockdown. One study conducted on graduating students reported that 60.8% of students faced an increase in anxiety. A majority found it harder to complete the semester at home (60.9%), especially among those who had strained relationships with family (34.1%).

Grappling with the loss of your everyday routine is, in itself, a difficult task, and whatever path you’ve chosen to deal and make peace with it, is perfectly alright. However, if you wish to use this time efficiently, not just to meet a long-term goal, but also to keep yourself busy and distracted, here are few of the things you can do:

  1. Build a Daily Routine: As Epictetus has said, Some things are in our control and others not.”We’ve all experienced the feeling of helplessness during the pandemic, having been powerless to control the destruction happening all around us. The only thing we can control is what we do with ourselves during this time. Focusing our energy on things we can control, like our daily routine, can help us regain some sense of normality. Doing something as simple as waking up early, and making your bed can set you up for the day. The reason why having these intact routines is beneficial is because over time, our brains become adept at performing those tasks automatically, which allows us to put this conserved energy toward achieving goals during the day.
  2. Break your day’s work into manageable chunks. Thinking about everything you need to do in a day can be intimidating. Breaking and listing down all your work into smaller tasks, and tackling them one at a time will help you stay focused at the task at hand and not worry about everything that’s to come. This way you can avoid being overwhelmed and sitting for hours without really getting much done. In fact, a studyconducted on work-from-home employees showed that out of the total participants, 56.7% gave credit to their effective time management during lockdown behind them staying motivated.
  3. Reward yourself after you’ve finished a task.Although you cannot go out and celebrate with your friends like you used to, it’s still a good idea to reward yourself to keep your motivation level high. You can reward yourself even when you’re staying within the walls of your house. You can watch a movie with your friends, have a game night, read a book you’ve always wanted to read, go for a long walk or drive, order in your favourite meal, so on and so forth.
  4. Try to exercise at least 3-4 days a week.If you’re feeling lethargic and unmotivated, doing some exercise can often help you find the energy that you need. Exercise releases endorphins (the happy hormone) which can help to boost your mood. You can go out for a run or try following a home work-out video. If you are not up for a strenuous exercise, then perhaps try doing something like yoga. Mulrine, Prater, Jenkins, (2008) conducted an observational study with students in which the classroom teacher incorporated movement throughout the class that included: classroom transition exercises, lesson energizers and structured movement games. They used an observational checklist pre- and post-exercise intervention. It was found out that exercise throughout the class improved academic performance, focus and reduced disruptive classroom behaviors.
  5. Lastly, ditch your “all or nothing attitude”. This attitude is self-jeopardizing and usually gets you nowhere. If people fail to accomplish one task a day, they feel guilty and disappointed.This sends them into a self-sabotaging cycle and keeps them from getting up the next day and continuing with the routine. Absolutist thinkers see themselves as failures if they make even a tiny error, which removes any opportunity to celebrate small successes or learn from mistakes. For them, anything but absolute perfection is a failure.

In the lockdown, people have often found themselves getting caught up in the productivity culture at some point or the other, which has, more often than not, led to burn-out.  These times are hard enough without the stress of finishing the next big project, or signing the next big contract. Be kind to yourself and don’t forget to give yourself enough off-days. If you want to do all your work through the week and have the weekend off that’s fine. Or, if you want to do your work in bits and pieces throughout the week, that’s fine too. If you start work at 9am or 1pm, both are fine. Don’t mark your expectations against someone else’s productivity levels. Do what works for you.

References:

Seton, E. (2021, February 11). How to stay motivated during lockdown | Student Blog UK | AFS. Accommodation for Students. https://www.accommodationforstudents.com/student-blog/7327 

Ketterer, K. L. (2021, April). Does exercise improve student motivation? Goucher College. https://mdsoar.org/bitstream/handle/11603/21485/KettererKatie_paper.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

McClean, S. T., Koopman, J., Yim, J., & Klotz, A. C. (2020, September 17). How disruptions to our morning routines harm daily productivity, and what we can do about it. LSE Business Review. https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/businessreview/2020/09/17/how-disruptions-to-our-morning-routines-harm-daily-productivity-and-what-we-can-do-about-it/

Reddy, J., Curtis, P., & Seema, R. (2020, September). A Study on Work from Home, Motivation & Productivity of Employees in Indian Population during COVID-19 Pandemic. Research Gate. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Prettysha-Curtis/publication/344266773_A_Study_on_Work_from_Home_Motivation_Productivity_of_Employees_in_Indian_Population_during_COVID-19_Pandemic/links/5f61efb3a6fdcc116415d08b/A-Study-on-Work-from-Home-Motivation-Productivity-of-Employees-in-Indian-Population-during-COVID-19-Pandemic.pdf

Ashley, S. (2021, January 27). 6 Signs Your ‘All-or-Nothing Thinking’ Is Getting in Your Own Way (& How to Break the Habit). PureWow. https://www.purewow.com/wellness/all-or-nothing-thinking 

Kashish Kukreja

When I’m not procrastinating or being knee deep in the latest web series, I like to read and write. I’m currently a student, pursuing psychology (honours) from Ambedkar University, Delhi.