This year has been unprecedented, at the start of the year we could not have imagined that Covid-19 would result in worldwide lock downs, mass redundancies and vast numbers of people working from home. Counting myself in the work from home brigade has given me a new perspective on work and although I now much prefer working at home, I have found along with the benefit there is a downside, without the company at work I do sometimes lack motivation, workplace blues and isolation has sent my mood into occasional downward trajectories.
So if you have a lack of motivation, workplace blues, or feelings of depression then i’ve created this post to help.
The symptoms of depression or lack of motivation are many and may vary in severity but may manifest in any or some of the following:
- Loss of appetite or indeed an increase in appetite (comfort eating)
- Suicidal thoughts
- Being irritable
- lack of concentration.
- Insomnia, or increased tiredness
- Low self esteem
- Not enjoying activities you normally do
Obviously, these symptoms range in seriousness and anyone who is having suicidal thoughts should seek professional help as soon as possible, either from speaking to your own doctor to phoning one of the many helplines that are available. I link here to a list by country, so wherever you are you should be able contact someone who can help locally.
Tackling these symptoms will depend on their severity but it is possible to minimize a lack of motivation by following some simple hints and tips………
Staying Motivated Tips
Avoiding Negativity – This is easier said than done in the current climate and the all-pervading social media. News is seldom upbeat, especially just now it seems. Try to limit yourself when it comes to watching the news. It is easy to switch on to rolling news channels but they do not help.
The same goes for social media, it’s easy to check on that twitter feed or what’s new on Facebook but the continual negativity that these sorts of sites produce will not do you any good. Try to limit yourself to a certain amount of time per day.
Most phones have screen time Apps which let you know how long you are on different Apps and you will be able to set limits there too. I found that even just checking on them to see how long I was spending on social media was an eye-opener and it was an easy task to set limits.
One easy way to limit use is just as simple as to not have them around. If you are working from home, then set forwarding up on the important stuff such as phone calls and emails and them move your phone into another room, so it’s not sitting there. Out of sight, out of mind will certainly work and you will be much less likely to pick up the phone just to check on that news feed!
If you MUST have your phone with you when you are working then think about moving all your social media apps into a folder which is not on your home screen. Out of sight again…..!
Stick to the Schedule – with working from home it’s tempting to switch things up. However, it’s better for your mental health if you have a clear routine to stick to.
Write out a timetable for the week ahead, taking into account your workload, appointments and deadlines. Then, most importantly, stick to it. If you can, write it out, it doesn’t have to be pretty just a list of to do’s for the week. Then put it up where you can see it, and most importantly, as you complete tasks, make sure to check them off. This will let you see that you are accomplishing things and give you a sense of achievement.
The tasks may be small but the important things is to recognize that you ARE moving in the right direction. The more you do this, the better. I have a couple of pages of printer paper on my desk and use these to write down jobs that need done. One thing I find that helps enormously is to take a few minutes at the end of the work day to write out my tasks for the next day. That way they are on the list and it reduces my “work thoughts” encroaching on my evening.
Exercise – we cannot underestimate the value of exercise, whether it’s going for a 30-minute walk or an on-line aerobic exercise class it has many benefits. As well as keeping your body healthy, exercise helps your mind by helping to release endorphins into the brain which makes you feel better.
It has been proven that exercising for at least 35 minutes a day, five days a week, can improve symptoms of mild to moderate depression.
It doesn’t have to be an all-out sweat inducing work out, just some exercise. I would start by setting aside half an hour a day during your work week to go out for a walk. If you have a dog, then there’s no excuse as I’m sure they will appreciate the exercise too. Mark it into your calendar so that there are no excuses, mark it so that you are busy so that there are no interruptions as well.
I found that running is just not for me, I have tried numerous times to start running but time and time again I have given up. I guess it’s not my thing. What I HAVE found enjoyable is using on-line aerobic workouts on YouTube – Joe Wicks is a great one and has workouts for all abilities. I have used an App called Freeletics before and found it brilliant, the coach sets you exercise to do each week, and takes into account how you found the exercises through feedback, so is continually changing the exercise to take ability into account. I will maybe write an article on it as it really helped me through some bad times.
Socialize – when I say this I mean that it will help if you keep in touch with the right people, a group of friends who understand you’re not getting on too well and will help you. As we’ve said there’s no room for negativity so steer clear of the friend who continually moans or is highly critical as they will not be helping. A support network of friends will help especially when you’re low and will improve your mood. Avoid things like alcohol, drugs and coffee, these affect the mood, drinking to excess will not help you at all, being a depressant and will encourage negative thoughts.
Sleep -as one of the symptoms of stress and lack of motivation it may be more difficult to control initially however you should be trying to get around eight hours of sleep a night, more than that is just as bad as not enough so aim for eight, again set alarms for how much sleep you should be getting and try to stick to it. Reading, rather than checking the phone or being on the computer last thing at night is better for you. Avoiding caffeine as well as this will have a negative effect your sleep.
In summary, the best thing is to discuss it with a friend you trust. Working from home, for a lot of people, is now the norm and it takes some getting used to. If you don’t normally work in isolation it is completely understandable that it will take some time to get used to and there will be bumps along the way. I try to speak to a couple of my work colleagues on line about twice a week, nothing important, in fact it’s better if it’s not. I find it great to sound off to people who I know are in similar circumstances and who are going through the same issues. It helps to talk is one of the best recommendations, it does not help in the slightest to keep everything to yourself so find someone to speak to, whether a friend, a colleague or someone on a helpline who understands. You will definitely feel better for sharing.
I hope you find this article useful, as ever if you have any comments or questions please feel free to drop me a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.