Updated: Apr 14, 2022
It’s not really the word you want to think about when you’re staring at your home/work assignment and longing for Animal Crossing, Halo, or Cookie Clicker (please not Cookie Clicker...the chocolatey chipey black hole of soo many misplaced hours!). You know you should do the thing, but even washing your house sounds more appealing than the thing you need to do.
Another casualty of COVID-19...our motivation.
It feels weird, because it’s not like we’re too busy to get the sleep we need, and really, the amount of assignments to complete hasn’t increased that much, if at all. So how does it make sense that every thirty seconds finds a new excuse for a distraction that will make us feel better than the effort of a job completed?
Perhaps it’s because we feel helpless?
This isn’t going to apply to everyone, but for some people, there can be a sense of helplessness in the middle of this pandemic. We’re told we can’t go to work unless we’re essential, and if we’re essential, we can’t not go to work. We’re told to distance ourselves from other humans, and to wear masks when we do dare to venture out. We’re told that this is a new strain of a virus that we don’t have a vaccine for yet, so it might be a while before we are allowed to mingle again.
We’re told a lot of things.
I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel like a kid playing a game and there are a lot of rules. Too many rules. So many rules that it might not feel worth it to keep trying to succeed at the game, so sitting down and just waiting for it to be over might be easier.
Motivation, exit stage right.
When this happens, it can be hard to find the drive to start tasks that were easy enough, before. Even fun stuff is suddenly like fighting molasses in the winter.
Fun fact: “Fake It Till You Make It” is a real thing. Taking that first step may not be something you want to do, but you tend to find the motivation after that first “faked” step. Psychologyland calls it Behavioral Activation.
Behavioral activation is the act of doing something – usually something small, at the beginning – to activate the neural chain of events to get you going. Kinda like one of those wind-up radios or watches. It works, you just have to kick-start it.
Think about something you find interesting or fun that has been laid by the wayside in the wake of #Coronamadness. It could be anything, like cooking, or drawing/painting, or running, or reading. For me, it’s writing. I love making a plot in my head come to life. But it’s not something I’ve felt super inclined to make happen lately.
For me, behavioral activation might look like deciding that from 4:00-4:30 every day, I am going to sit down at my computer, and write. That might just be reading through stuff I’ve already written to find inspiration, or taking notes on something I want to put into my next chapter, or committing to writing even just 100 words (the two previous paragraphs put together are 101 words, it’s not a lot). It doesn’t need to be a whole chapter. But I am doing something toward my goal of writing.
For you, it might be setting aside fifteen minutes after work to find a couple of recipes you want to tackle next week. It could be deciding that tomorrow morning, you’ll set aside 30 minutes to go walk around your house a couple of times. It could even be learning a singular new chord on the guitar this weekend.
Once you have that down, you can up the ante and walk around the block, or make some mac and cheese. It sounds a little silly, but it’s an easy way to coax yourself into doing things you like. Who knows, before you know it, you could be whipping up a chocolate cake, or running a mile up the street and back, or reading a whole book in a couple of days.
The more you can do things that you find rewarding, the more you can get yourself moving. To help you get started, here is a worksheet that helps you write out the things you want to do. You don’t have to fill in something for every box – this is your worksheet, you’re not going to turn it in to me – but challenge yourself to do something more than what you’ve been doing. See what happens.
There may be a lot of things we can’t control right now, but what you get to do in your self-care time is definitely something you can control. I can’t wait to see what you end up doing for yourself as you take care of yourself.
If you feel that you are struggling with any kind of emotional or behavioral health problems and are in need of therapy services please do not hesitate to contact the PSC and schedule an appointment. Stay tuned for a new post next week!