We are now a month into quarantine, and most of us are still trying to adjust to learning and working online. It feels daunting to think that this era of remoteness and social distancing will continue to be our norm for a little while longer, and the ambiguity can make it difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. This leaves many of us wondering how to stay motivated and continue to look and move forward in our day-to-day life.
Exercise and sleep are important to both our mental and physical health; they can help us stay in healthy routines and are fundamental building blocks to keeping up, staying motivated, and feeling fresh.
Exercise can sometimes fall to the bottom of the priority list, but even just a 5-minute workout can give you a great sense of accomplishment and can increase your confidence for completing future tasks. Movement releases endorphins which energize you and provides the momentum needed to keep moving forward with daily tasks. Keeping a consistent sleep routine will aid in this too! Sleep deprivation and inconsistent or altered sleep patterns can make us feel sluggish and unmotivated. For example, staying up until 3am and sleeping in until 2pm not only impacts our “normal” sleep schedule, but it can also cause us to feel that we have already wasted our day — leading to a “it’s not worth it today” mindset, which morphs into procrastination and falling behind on our goals. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule will help you stay on your toes, feel fresh, and keep your goals in sight.
Setting achievable goals is also imperative in the pursuit of consistent motivation. When we set expectations too high for what we can achieve in a day and we are unable to achieve that expectation, we begin to feel defeated about the unfinished work. Keep your goals realistic. Finishing a week’s worth of math assignments and completing an English essay in one day is going to be too much. Instead, set a goal of working on 10 problems and one paragraph. Breaking big goals into smaller pieces allows us to take pride in the small accomplishments instead of dwelling on how we fell short. Slow and steady wins the race. However, sometimes we still hit roadblocks, and that’s okay!
We may still have trouble achieving our goals, even when making them more realistic, and focusing on this can lead to diminished self esteem. To mitigate this, check in with yourself about your progress and goals. It’s okay to re-evaluate, and if what you originally planned for isn’t working for you, you can adjust. Make a list of what you have done well, and what you want to improve. This can be an excellent daily activity to keep your spirits up and keep you looking forward, but it’s also helpful in evaluating how you need to change your longer-term goals and/or habits. Sharing these ideas with your mentor, parent, or teacher is a good idea too, and can increase accountability for those acknowledgements and goals.
In addition to academic and work-related goals, try to set goals in other areas of your life. Setting and achieving these goals (which might be more meaningful to you) will help you feel more accomplished. This might even help keep you more motivated in school, and work can feel more attainable and struggle-free. Feeling a sense of accomplishment in one aspect of your day can help you to continue moving forward with the rest of your work.
The light at the end of the tunnel is always there, whether or not we can see it all the time. Keeping healthy habits, like sleep, exercise, and easily-achievable goals —both academic and non-academic — can help us keep moving forward and through the tunnel of remote learning and work.