We all know that some of the best ways to look after our mental and physical health during the lockdown are to do exercise, eat healthy food and keep our minds busy and purposeful. But in the same breath, being cooped up indoors and finding ourselves emotionally drained by the daily news can impact how motivated we feel to actually do those things – especially when we still don’t know how long lockdown will last.
The most important thing to keep in mind during this time is that you aren’t alone and that this situation is temporary, so it will pass. But, in the meantime, we hope the following 6 tips will help you to stay as motivated as possible in the coming weeks.
1. Focus on the positives and celebrate the little things
While staying well-informed is important if we are to keep up to date with the latest government guidelines – it can be very helpful to limit the amount of time you spend looking at negative news stories, and dwelling on everything that frustrates you about the current situation.
A few of the team at Rest Less reported feeling their energy draining away whilst reading the news, so some have taken steps to limit their news consumption to 30 minutes in the late afternoon and are reporting great boosts in their mood as a result. Everyone will have their own rhythm but the team here found that reading the news first thing in the morning affected their mood for the rest of the day, whereas doing it just before bed led to challenges switching off and sleeping.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that alongside the negative news, there are also positive stories about people recovering from coronavirus, others are getting creative at home and finding new ways to keep in touch with loved ones. Worldwide, there have also been stories of solidarity and kindness, as people do what they can to help each other through this challenging time. So, if you can’t stay away from the news, then try to extract as many positive stories from the rest as you can. They may offer you some comfort and hope.
It can also be helpful to focus your energy on the good things in your life – however small. This could simply be the fact that you baked a tasty banana bread yesterday, went for a walk in the sunshine today, or that you’re looking forward to finding out what happens next in a book that you’re really enjoying. Positivity can go a long way in helping us to feel motivated.
2. Stay present
It’s almost impossible to predict what the future holds, so ruminating about it is likely to do nothing more than use up precious energy, demotivate you and keep you in a constant state of anxiety. Creating a distinction between the things you can control and the things you can’t control can help with this. For example, by acknowledging that you can’t control how soon the lockdown is lifted (other than by staying at home where possible) or how well-stocked the supermarket shelves are, but that you can control what you decide to do today – whether that involves decluttering your bedroom, phoning a friend or watching a film.
Letting go of what you can’t control and focussing only on what action you can take now, in this moment, can be a liberating feeling – one that brings you a real sense of calm. Generally speaking, the calmer you feel, the easier it will be to move through each day, without carrying around the additional burden of those things that you simply can’t change.
If you’re struggling to focus on what you can control in the here and now, then why not try mindfulness? Our guide will show you how to use a range of techniques designed to help you focus only on what is happening around you in any given moment.
3. Stay connected with the people who make you feel good
If you’re struggling to stay motivated during the lockdown, then consider staying in regular contact with friends and family members who are positive and tend to lift your spirits. If you’re feeling a bit low, it can be tempting to retreat into your shell and avoid social contact altogether, but a chat with a cheerful loved one can really give you a boost. Staying connected acts not only as a reminder that we’re all in this together – it’s also a great way to share tips with one another on how best to navigate these strange and uncertain times.
You may also be able to come up with goals that you can work on together, even from afar. For example, if you’re finding it hard to exercise at home, then you could try arranging to do a workout with a friend over a video call. Or, you could simply agree to text each other a few times a week to remind each other to work out and/or talk about how it’s going.
There’s no shame in admitting that you’re finding things a bit tough. Often when we open up to others, we find out that we’re not the only one feeling this way; and a problem shared can often be a problem halved.
4. Find a purpose during the lockdown
One of the key reasons you may be lacking motivation is because you feel that you have nothing to get up for in the morning. You might think “why shouldn’t I lie in bed until midday if I have nothing to do today?” This is why it’s so important that you establish a sense of purpose throughout this lockdown period. Purpose is what motivates us to want to get up and see the day through. If you have goals and things you want to achieve, it’s usually easier to get up and get going.
People gain purpose from taking part in a range of different activities. At present, these could include things like picking up shopping for vulnerable neighbours who cannot get to the supermarket themselves, taking on a series of home improvement projects. or finding something new to learn that you can really sink your teeth into.
When you’re looking to establish your own sense of purpose, consider what sort of activities you genuinely care about that would bring you some level of fulfillment or satisfaction – otherwise you won’t feel motivated to do it.
Helping others, for example, offers a sense of purpose to many. Knowing that you have the potential to make a difference to someone else’s life, not wanting to let someone down and the positive feelings you can get from helping someone else, can all make you more likely to keep helping. That feeling of wanting to get up and do it again and make a difference, is one way of describing what a sense of purpose is. Although there are social distancing measures in place at the moment, you could still find ways to help others through online volunteering. You could also agree to check in a couple of times a week with someone you know is living alone and missing social interaction. Your call could mean more to them than you realise!
Finally, if you’re really struggling to find your purpose during this time – then sometimes it can help to simply try something. The first steps are often the hardest and by simply signing up to a free online learning course, or by calling a vulnerable neighbour you may well find you start to see your way forward.
5. Create small, realistic goals each day and week - but don’t be afraid to go with the flow too!
You may have heard this one a few times already, but that’s only because having a routine during a period of uncertainty can help to give you some stability, reassurance and a sense of normality. As humans, we are creatures of habit and so take comfort from some sort of routine, no matter how flexible and changeable that routine may be! Often if we wake up and then spend time contemplating all the things we could do with our day, it’s easy to find it too hard to choose from your ideas, or to overthink each idea and end up not doing anything at all.
To avoid this happening, try sitting down with your diary or a notepad every Sunday and mapping out some sort of plan for your week. This doesn’t have to mean writing down what you’re going to do every hour, everyday of the week. But it could mean deciding that on Monday, you’re going to give your living room a fresh coat of paint, on Tuesday you will bake something you’ve never baked before and on Wednesday you will do some training with your dog and teach him/or her a new trick…and so on.
Try to stick to your routine as much as possible, but allow yourself some breathing space too. If you feel exhausted come Wednesday and want to take an afternoon nap, then let yourself, or if you’re not feeling up to that 5K run that you committed yourself to earlier in the week, then try just going for a walk instead or just running 1K and getting some fresh air – with a view to running 5K next time. Even if you can’t bear the idea of a full on run, you’re usually better off getting out for a short while than not at all.
We’re humans, not robots, so although routine can be a really motivational tool, it’s important not to punish yourself if you don’t stick to your schedule religiously – because that can eventually become just as demotivating as having no routine at all. Small steps can offer big rewards, so only take on what you think you can realistically manage!
6. Use this time to find out what really motivates you
If you’re experiencing a loss of purpose and motivation at the moment, then whilst this can be a real challenge to work through, it can also offer a great opportunity. When was the last time that you had this much time to reflect, to focus on what’s really important to you and to consider what really makes you happy? Many of us will be feeling particularly grateful for our health and the health of our families and friends right now, and perhaps certain things that seemed important before this all began no longer do.
We’ve read many stories and heard from our members about how this time has forced them to reevaluate what’s important, reignite old passions or discover new ones, and develop skills such as resilience and optimism. It’s important to be honest with yourself about what really motivates you. Maybe you’ve really enjoyed being at home with your pet(s), which has prompted you to consider whether you could move into a role working with animals when this is all over. Or maybe you’ve rediscovered your love of oil painting and are wondering whether you could start selling your work. Whatever it is that makes you tick, now could be a really valuable time to explore it and how you might get started. Self-discovery is a journey that we may go on several times throughout our lives, and the results can sometimes be surprising – in a good way!
If you’ve been considering a career change for a while but are looking for some inspiration, then you may want to try browsing the career ideas section of our site, or reading some of the personal stories from a number of our members who have taken the leap to a new career in their 50s, 60s or beyond.
It can be easy to see people all over the internet doing all sorts of different things and in turn, feel like you have to do the same. Try not to compare yourself to others because everyone will be coping with the lockdown in their own way. Some people may find it easier to completely block their week out with activities hour by hour, whilst others may be happier planning a few things here and there and perhaps even putting aside a whole day to snuggle into the sofa and catch up on their favourite shows.
What motivates you may be of no interest to someone else and vice versa, so it’s crucial that you listen to your own mind and body and focus on things that will help you and make you happy. We all have good and bad days so if you find yourself having a bad day, then try to think of every day as a fresh start with a new blank canvas to start from and a new opportunity to find what works for you.
What is keeping you motivated during the lockdown? Do you have any additional tips that you’d like to share with others? We’d love to hear from you at [email protected] or leave a comment below.