How to Stay Motivated During Uninspiring Times

It’s no secret that we are living through challenging times right now with staying at home and feeling anxious about a global pandemic. It’s easy to slip into negative thoughts and sit in our feelings, however it’s important to remember, just as Roman biographer Cornelius Nepos said: “After darkness comes light.” These are my tips to stay motivated even when I don’t feel like it.

Establish a routine.

Routines are a form of comfort because it’s something you can do every day and helps you look forward to what you will be doing tomorrow and the day after that. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant either, it could just be making coffee before you start your work day, meditating at noon, or doing morning stretches. Personally, my routine has been to eat cereal and brew coffee and it’s a ritual I look forward to each weekday morning. Something small yet meaningful can have a positive effect on your daily routine.

Focus on what you can control in the present.

Worrying about what might happen in the future will only add unnecessary stress and anxiety. Instead, try to focus on what you can and want to do today, and focus on what you are able to control. For example, you can control what TV shows you want to watch or where you sit in your household or what you can eat based on what is in your refrigerator. Know that you do have control over things in your life and you don’t need to have the answer about tomorrow or the day after that.

Do things for yourself.

I overcame a roadblock of working out by realizing that I didn’t want to exercise for vanity purposes, but rather to strengthen my mental and physical health. It’s been challenging to work out at home and drum up the drive to do so, but I’ve found success in knowing that I’m doing this to stay strong through tough times, rather than thinking, “I need to avoid gaining the Quarantine 15!” I also do not pressure myself to work out every day, nor do I put myself down if I only do it once a week, which brings me to my next point:

Be gentle, be kind.

The last thing you need to do is get angry or upset with yourself for not doing something “productive” like working out, doing crafts, or baking. In fact, it’s okay to rest and take things slow. If you have a day where you want to eat junk food and binge TV shows, by all means do it. Don’t deprive yourself of things you want to do or eat. It’s important to do things that make you happy and feeds your soul, even if it’s just sitting around doing nothing. Sometimes that’s just what your body wants to do and that’s okay.

“After darkness comes light.” —Cornelius Nepos

Surround yourself with positivity.

This is something I still struggle with, but once I do it, it works. Positive energy is always uplifting, and if you can attain it, you’ll feel motivated to keep going. What I’ve done to stay positive through these times are to avoid reading the news; watch things that are lighthearted and funny, whether it’s a comedy TV show or cute cat videos; send funny memes to friends; and overall just find something to laugh about. I’ve definitely caught myself being a Debbie Downer while talking to my friends, but once I recognize that I’m in my feelings, I try to pull myself out of it. It’s a good practice to acknowledge your negative feelings then move on, rather than shoving it down. There is such thing as fake positivity, where you only try to say and do “positive things” and never acknowledge your sadness or anger. It’s always better to honor the good and the bad rather than just think you need ~good vibes only~.

Remember: This too shall pass.

I know things feel uncertain and unclear, but just remember this too shall pass. We won’t always have to live like this forever. Maybe for just a little bit longer, but not forever. Society will bounce back eventually—even if it does take a year. What goes up must come down, but it can’t always be down. Know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you can find your way through the darkness. We can and will get through this, and knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel serves as a reminder to keep going.

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