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Coping with COVID: How to stay motivated during self-isolation

Here are a few tips on how to stay motivated while you’re stuck indoors.


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Carmen Ang
5 months ago | 3 min read
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We’ve all had to make some drastic lifestyle changes recently.

Like many people, I’ve lost my job because of COVID-19. While this slowed down version of life has given me ample time for rest and reflection, it hasn’t come without its challenges.

My biggest struggle has been figuring out how to stay productive these last few months without the help of my usual external motivators (a demanding job, or a busy social life).

While I think it’s important to be kind to yourself and rest during this crazy time, it’s also important to stay joyful and positive. And I find that sometimes, the things that bring me the most joy are the things I tend to avoid.

For instance, I love running and writing. I find both activities therapeutic and relaxing. But they’re also challenging — it takes a lot more energy to put on my running shoes, or to draft a blog post, than it does to watch Netflix in bed. While I fully support a Netflix and Chill day when needed, I think balance is key.

So, if you’re having a hard time finding your self-isolation sweet spot, here are a few tips that could help you stay motivated (and, hopefully, relatively sane) while you’re stuck indoors.

Create a morning routine

Committing to a morning ritual is a great way to kickstart your day. It creates structure and helps you feel accomplished right from the get-go. What your morning routine looks like is up to you — I’m a coffee person, so the first thing I do when I wake up is make myself a cup of Joe. Whatever you decide to incorporate into your ritual — yoga, medication, stretching, journalling — I recommend setting an alarm so you can go through your routine at the same time each morning.

Set daily goals

Setting daily, obtainable goals that you can cross off your to-do list will help you feel productive and focused. I’ve found it helpful to dedicate different days of the week to specific activities. For example, on Mondays, I apply for at least one job, and on Tuesdays, I go for a long run and spend a few hours reading. It keeps me focused and I find I’m more productive that way.

Celebrate the small victories

This time has been a great opportunity for us to challenge our previous notions of productivity and what it means to be successful. If you’re fortunate enough to have food, shelter, and support right now, then you’re in a great position, so sit back and feel grateful for the little things. Celebrating the small victories — like having the time to bake, or learning how to knit — will keep your spirits up, and hopefully stop you from spiraling into a week-long Netflix marathon.

Lean on your network

Of course, if you do end up spiraling, try not to beat yourself up. We’ve all been there. It’s hard to stay motivated all day, every day, especially at a time like this. If you have a specific goal and a network of people with similar interests, consider setting up a regular video chat meeting to hold each other accountable. I have a weekly call with my cousin and my aunt to chat about our writing goals. They keep me inspired when I don’t have the energy to motivate myself. Sometimes, we just need a helping hand or an encouraging word to keep us on track.

Keep a journal

Journalling is a great way to process your emotions and work through your feelings independently. It’s also a great way to document this crazy time, so you can look back in ten years and remember, in detail, just how weird this whole experience was!

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