It was about two weeks ago when I had the realisation.
I rolled out of bed at 10am, eyes still half shut, carrying an unshakeable feeling of grogginess, despite the 9 hours of sleep I’d just had. I made a cup of tea and some breakfast, opened my laptop and reluctantly dived straight into my work.
Due to my late start, lunchtime soon crept up on me and I was only a couple of ‘to do’ list items down. Furious with myself for sleeping in so long, the rest of my day felt tarnished as an angry internal monologue berated me for my failings.
This new, unhealthy routine had become a common theme. And that’s when I realised: lockdown had made me lazy.
Like many people, the Coronavirus pandemic has been (and still is) a rollercoaster of emotions. It started with anxiety, the genuine fear of being alone in my small flat for months on end. But then we all came together, united in our anxiety, and I channeled my concerns into positivity. A chance to readjust and reset. For a while, I thrived off the lack of pressure to be anywhere.
But I replaced that pressure with my own pressure. To work harder, to cook, to exercise, to do yoga, to get creative, to learn new skills. I created my own stress, like I needed a fix of it to feel normal, to feel human.
A couple of months went by and I was super productive. My freelance business was rocketing, I was growing my blog, I was queen of admin. But once the sense of achievement wore off, I realised that I wasn’t happy. I’d developed a full-time relationship with my laptop screen. I felt drained and lifeless.
So I rebelled against my own productivity. With nowhere to be, I stopped setting alarms in the morning. I removed the pressure to exercise, so I stopped. I fell out of love with cooking and in love with takeaways. I didn’t pour as much time and energy into my blog. I became lazy.
I have never considered myself to be a lazy person. I didn’t feel like myself and I knew I needed to change my lockdown-induced laziness. But I didn’t want to go back to pre-lazy Jessie – the one who developed a persistent eye twitch from spending 12 hours a day in front of a screen (yes really).
So, as I did at the start of lockdown, I took a moment to readjust and reset. Here are the steps I am currently taking to rediscover my motivation. There’s nothing revolutionary here, just small simple changes. Already I feel happier, healthier and with a spring in my step again.
6 tips for finding your motivation again
1. Getting up at a reasonable time
I have a confession: I’m a snoozer. Sometimes my alarm goes off every 10 minutes for an hour. It is hands down one of my worst traits as a human. It makes me feel groggy and tired – and if you happen to share your bed with someone else, they will want to strangle you.
Whenever I have an unplanned lie-in, I spend the rest of the day annoyed with myself. When I get up bright and early, the difference it makes to my mood is honestly transformative. I’ve been setting my alarm earlier and reminding myself of this so I don’t feel tempted to snooze. Just getting up at 7am instead of 9am makes me feel like a real-life adult and it gives me more time to fully wake up in the morning, leading to a more productive day.
2. A new morning routine
With more time in the morning thanks to my new status as an early bird, I have the time for a helpful morning routine. One that makes me feel good and doesn’t involve diving headfirst into my laptop because I’ve already wasted too much time.
I’m trying to do 10-15 minutes of yoga / stretching to help wake up my body. I’m only just starting out with yoga – I’ve tried many times but haven’t been able to really get into it. But I know I would benefit so much from it. If I don’t do my morning stretch then that’s fine. But when I do it, I feel great.
I will evolve my morning routine over time but I wanted to start with a small change so it’s achievable. For me, it’s about not going straight onto my phone or laptop and instead having a bit of calm and relaxing me-time before the day starts.
I have such a love-hate relationship with exercise. I feel great when I’ve done it but I hate the pressure of having to do it. Before COVID came knocking, I’d go to the gym a few times a week and my reward would be some chill time in the spa after my workout. Now that I don’t have the reward part, I struggle to get my butt moving.
As a compromise, I’ve started doing short, sharp HIIT workouts a few times a week. They get the blood pumping but don’t take up hours of my day. It’s so important to get your body moving now more than ever. Humans weren’t made for sitting on their bums all day, so it’s no wonder we feel pants when we do.
4. Healthy eating
I usually excuse my avoidance of cooking with the classic excuse of not enough time. But that excuse just doesn’t cut it in this new stay-at-home era. Takeaways are bad for most people but they are particularly bad for me because I have various food intolerances and sensitivities. So not only do they make me feel meh, they cause me actual physical pain.
I’ve been getting back to cooking healthy meals for myself. ‘Healthy’ doesn’t mean bland or boring. I’ve spent time finding delicious recipes that taste good and make me feel good. I still have a takeaway every now and then. But I no longer feel bad about it because it’s a treat and not the norm.
5. Get outside
As someone who thrives off travelling and adventure, lockdown has been somewhat problematic. I don’t have a garden or even a balcony where I live, so I’ve had a real bad case of cabin fever. But there’s no excuse when I have so much on my doorstep.
Whether it’s a stroll around the local park or driving down to the coast for the day. Getting outside blows away those cobwebs and recharges my batteries. Also, I always have my best ideas when I’m away from the screen. So it’s productive and good for my mental health.
6. Take a moment to think about what makes you happy
You can have the most impressive morning routine in the world, be a yoga and mindfulness wizard, and eat all the vegetables in the world. But if you don’t love what you’re doing day-to-day, then you will struggle to find your motivation.
Of course we all want to have a job that we love and are passionate about. And although I think that should always be an important goal for everyone, it may not be realistic to make that change right now. But you can control how you spend your spare time and what hobbies you do. Schedule time to do what makes you happy and prioritise it. Find what makes you tick, what lights a fire in your belly, what makes you forget to look at your phone. Whatever it is, do more of that.
These are all very manageable changes to make. This list could go on forever, but if you try to do too much too soon, you’ll fall back into old habits. Just remember that this COVID era we’re living in is hard. It’s testing us in many different ways. It’s okay to feel like you’re drowning or you’re not ‘succeeding’ – whatever that means.
Finding your motivation isn’t about being more productive at work and getting more done. It’s about balance, it’s about not being so hard on yourself and doing more of what you love. Because once you feel happier in yourself, you’ll naturally feel more motivated.