How I stay motivated in uncertain times
With Covid, climate change, and on-going threats of war in the media, I find staying positive and motivated quite a challenge sometimes. Just switching the TV on or checking my news notifications is often enough to lower my mood.
However, by understanding myself better, I’ve picked up some techniques that go a long way in improving my mood and motivation. Here they are.
Incentivise your tasks
Like many students, I often dread an assignment and end up pushing it back until I reach the day before the deadline and it needs to be banged out all out in one night. To tempt myself to approach it earlier, I incentivise myself with treats for after - like ordering in a pizza.
Another way to motivate myself to complete boring or gruelling tasks, is reminding myself of the reason I’m doing it in the first place - with assignments, that means it’s for my future career and forms part of my £9,250-a-year course. The thought of wasting opportunities and money is often enough to get me moving.
I have a varied music taste, but listening to classical music in particular gives me a moment to calm down and rejuvenate - I just put my earphones in and lose myself in playlists on YouTube, Soundcloud, or Spotify. I find this kind of rest regenerates my energy, and allows me to approach my day with more motivation.
I find seeing friends - whether that’s on a night out or just a simple walk around my area - is integral to good mental health. I also find tackling tasks, like studying or cooking dinner, with friends makes them easier and more manageable. If you’ve not seen friends in a while, it’s easy to underestimate how much your mood (and motivation) improves after seeing other people, even if it’s just through a phone or video call.
I think it’s common for people to buy gym memberships and make big fitness goals as part of their New Years’ resolutions - I definitely have in the past. However, in my experience, over-committing often results in those initial feelings of motivation and enthusiasm fizzling out as quickly as they came in.
The way I approach goals around exercise now is slow and steady. Instead of trying to go to the gym every day, then beating myself up when I don’t, I’ve built a gradual routine. I started with exercising just once a week at the same time, and gradually increased the amount until now, where I’m habitually working out regularly each week.
To finish off with a bit of final advice - don’t hesitate to talk to friends, family, or professionals if you feel particularly down or demotivated. Getting advice and talking are the first steps to developing your emotional resilience and long term motivation.