I am writing this post as much to myself as to any of you. Over the last few weeks I haven’t quite felt myself, I’ve found it difficult to motivate myself and to find joy in my work and studies. I kept finding myself worrying about all the things I had to do and then procrastinating even more rather than getting on with things. Which obviously, in turn, made me even more stressed. So in times like this, what I need is an action plan — some steps that will get me out of this rut, help me to see things in a more positive light and inspire me to sit down and work.
If you can relate to any of this at all — just keep reading!
Focus on what you know to be true.
It is super easy to get caught up in a negative mind-set. To spiral downwards , thinking that you can’t do it, that you’re destined to fail and that it’s not even worth trying. Well, I know for a fact that none of this is true. I know that I am a child of God, that I am created in his image, that I have gifts and attributes that are unique to me and that are needed in this world. I am here for a reason.
When this is not at the forefront of my mind I find it super helpful to read my Bible, listen to Christian music or to listen to a preach or a podcast. (If you don’t have a church or don’t know where to find preaches online, you can check out my church’s preaches here: http://christchurchblackpool.co.uk/sermons/)
Know your “WHY”
There are a lot of things in life we don’t have a choice in. But there are also a lot of things that are in our control. I wrote a whole post about choices and the power we have over a lot of life’s circumstances. Ask yourself why you are doing something or why you want to be doing something: Why do want to exercise? Why do you want to study this degree? Why are you working in this job? Why are you pursuing your creative passions? Write it down in your journal or on a piece of paper to stick above your desk or in a visible place to have as a little reminder that motivates you to keep going. Knowing your goal or reason why you do what you do will help you to stay motivated.
Do the dishes
I read an article recently by Thomas Frank about waking up with no motivation where he writes about building productive momentum. He advises doing the dishes (or any other simple manual chore) when feeling unmotivated and prone to procrastination. He argues that if you get into the flow of doing this task your brain goes into work mode and from doing the dishes you might be able to carry over the productive momentum into more challenging tasks. I can definitely relate to that. Doing something manual where I can see instant results, whether it is the dishes, putting on a wash or tidying the living room — achieving little successes and being able to cross off items from my to-do-list — help me to stay motivated.
Talk it out
When I feel unmotivated and stuck in cycle of negative thinking, I find it really helpful to talk to someone. Often it is not even necessary for this person to respond or solve anything –- it is more about processing and sharing what you’re experiencing — it will make you feel less alone. This is something that I often find difficult as I am not naturally an external processor but once I do this, I always feel better. So go grab your best friend, your mom, your partner (or if none of these are available, you can always send me an email) and let it all out.
There is a growing body of research showing that time spent in nature has positive effects on mood and can lower depression, anxiety and stress. Take a walk in the nearest park, plan a hike or cycle along a scenic route to work. My husband and I went for a walk along the beach last weekend and breathing in the fresh sea air and being in the sun made me feel so much better. There is also something about walking in nature that helps me process and think things through.
Change up your routine
I have a tendency to get bored pretty quickly if I keep doing the same things over and over again. So, whether it is exercise, my weekly schedule or my study routine, I always find it helpful to mix things up every now and then. Whether it is hanging up new pictures above my desk, trying out a new class at the gym or venturing to a coffee shop for an hour of work (which is what I am doing at this very moment!) some change can feel like a breath of fresh air and make you feel a bit more excited.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed and uninspired when running from one appointment to the next and never having proper time for anything. I find this really hard but it is important to know your priorities and to say no to things that you can’t fit in, or that you know will make you feel stressed. This is definitely a work in progress for me, but I feel I am getting slightly better at it!
What action steps do you take to get out of a rut and to de-stress? Let me know in the comments if you have any extra tips – I always love to hear what you guys have to say.
I hope you all have a lovely week!