Greetings Humanity! I don’t know about you but I am getting so much done while in lockdown. I have had zero trouble springing out of bed every morning leaping into essential tasks and scheduling time for side projects.
WHO ARE THOSE PEOPLE?! Why are they all on my social media?
I am trying to stay positive and pray good things for everyone, but I can’t be the only one that hopes those people get mysterious rashes, right? Rashes accompanied by strange smells and maybe just a little puss.
Day-to-day motivation has been an incredible struggle for me during lockdown. Every time I get a rhythm going and start gaining momentum I seem to go off the rails, and it is harder to get things lined up again each time.
It is especially frustrating to me and to many of us because we feel like now we have the time to do all the things we never have time for.
I figured I would share what I have been struggling with and the strategies I have used to try and manage. I am in Raleigh, I am unattached romantically and have no kids so that has a big influence my day-to-day.
Why has motivation been so hard for me?
Everything is harder when you are anxious, and I may be alone in this but I have been pretty anxious lately. Anxiety makes everything feel like I am walking through water up to my waist. It isn’t impossible, it isn’t dangerous, it just makes everything harder and more tiring. The thing anxiety makes hardest for me is mental focus, especially for long periods of time. That makes writing and editing a lot more challenging.
Lack of Structure
I knew how to get things done within the structure of my old life. Some of that structure was of my own creation and some of it was society. Work, gym, meetings, grocery shopping, work, classes, regular social events. All of these provided structures I built my day around. Something as simple as when I needed to be at work determined when I would go to bed, when I would make dinner, when I would start my laundry and a host of other things. All that is gone. We all learn how to navigate out days and the pillars I hung my day on disappeared.
The news and social media were the big ones for me. I didn’t feel bad checking the news. I am a responsible citizen and trying to learn what is going on, at least while reading and watching, helped reduce the feeling of anxiety but only until I stopped reading because there have not been many comforting answers. Social media was similar. Finding some way to socialize and connect with people is a challenge we have all faced, and finding ways to connect has been a challenge for all of us. Working against it is a good thing, but man social media can be far more distracting now.
Movies, sorting my socks, organizing my booklist, reading, sorting more of my socks, leisure activities that used to need to fit within the structure of the rest of my life, no longer have any restrictions. There is no reason not to read 50 pages of fiction because it isn’t like there is a hard schedule I need to commit to.
The best buddy of anxiety. Stress makes it harder to sleep, harder to focus, and generally makes me grumpy.
That’s a lot of stuff brought on by the lockdown. How does anyone deal with all that? The short answer is: badly. It is hard. I sometimes make progress against it and other days fall behind. I certainly don’t have all the answers and am not doing an amazing job.
Here are the things that have worked with varying degrees of success for me.
Start the day by Encouraging People
I start the day by sending at least 5 encouraging texts to people. When I do it my day is better. I focus on someone else and not on myself. Those texts often start friendly text exchanges that continue through the day and are better than social media.
Establishing a new set of my own rules. Getting up at a certain time. Putting on the same clothes I would wear if it was January. I don’t think it really matters what the rules are just having some you try to stick to.
Man, this one is hard but it really helps. I decided that I would only let myself check the news twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the late afternoon. When I can stick to it my stress and anxiety level stay down and I of course spend less time reading news. When I do not manage to do this my days often swirl away in ever increasing frustration and new consumption.
Limiting Social Media
I thought social media was making me feel connected to people, though Facebook was certainly making me grumpy. I found that once I cut it out, limiting it to checking at most once or twice a day, I felt way better and less lonely. Instead of just checking someone’s feed I texted them and that was way better.
Diet and Exercise
When I say diet I really just mean taking my vitamins and cutting out alcohol. Drinking a lot of water. That helps. Taking walks, jogging, some physical activity is great preferably outside.
All of those things have helped me tremendously. I have to admit that I only succeed fully about 20% of the time but it has really helped. Writing it all out and thinking about it helps me so I did it and maybe reading it will help you. I hope you are all finding ways to reach your goals during this crazy time.