Heading into week four of quarantine, I have a variety of feelings and thoughts – per usual. First and foremost, for anyone who has been personally impacted by COVID-19, I want to say I am thinking about you and sending you love. Secondly, for anyone on the front lines – from doctors, nurses, to those working at my local grocery store, I want to say thank you for all your work with those who are sick and for allowing us to have access to our essential services.
This post is not groundbreaking, I have shared all these tips before. As a PhD student, working from home has been my speciality. But, working from home during a pandemic, now thats new. These tips are simple reminders that are helping me stay motivated during quarantine.
I also want to put a disclaimer here; these tips are helping me, this is not to say the will help you too. Everyone’s life is so unique right – you could be experiencing job loss, or if you might be having to juggle work and homeschooling your children. But something we are sharing right now is experiencing communal trauma. And for us PhD’s, we still have to continue our studies despite it. Here are a few things that are keeping me motivated.
Take more breaks
The number one thing that is helping me right now is taking lots of breaks. This usually means following the pomodoro technique. I work for 25 minutes or 50 minute sprints and then take a longer than usual break. I would typically take a 5 or 10 minute break. But nowadays, they range from 15-30. I go for more walks, I am reading more fiction and I am making a lot more tea. Anything that will help nourish me (vs. social media or the news) and sustain my energy for the day.
Prioritizing your health
During this period when I find myself feel down, which is usually after watching too much news or remembering that my wedding will no longer take place on June 6th, there are two things that have helped keep my mood up; working out and eating healthy. It may be tempting to stay in your comfy clothes all day and not get outside, but that vitamin D (at a distance) has been so nourishing. There are also loads of free exercise programs on social media and I have been experimenting with those and running again. Getting my endorphins up has honestly been a life saver right now. It is also tempting to snack more, binge eat or find comfort in less health food items. If you are doing this more, that is totally okay and is totally normally. I have too. But when I remember to come out of it and maintain a healthy diet with loads of fruits and veg, I feel so much better. Alcohol also often seems like something that will take the pain away but I have been trying to stay away from that too… at least in moderation.
Keep normal routines as much as possible
I have been trying to still maintain a sense of normalcy by waking up and going to bed at my usual time, as well as taking it easier on weekends. Sure the first week of COVID-19 my routines were shot but by continuing my habits now, I have a sense of structure, which seems to be helping my anxiety.
Work less.. but make those hours more productive
If you normally work 7 hours in the day, don’t expect to be productive for 7 hours during this time period and that is okay. In fact, if you focus your time on making the hours you do work be extremely productive, you will be able to enjoy your breaks more and will fuel you with energy and positive vibes throughout the day. This means when you work, turn off your e-mail and put your phone away. It also means scheduling e-mail and news breaks so you are not being bombarded by the outside world.
Give yourself a break for not being as productive as normal
So we have come to the conclusion that you will not be as productive as normal and that is okay, right? Now, give yourself a break! Most others are not being as productive either.. and those few who are – good for them. If you are having an off day, congratulations, you are human and this is very normal! This might be a sign that you need more time with yourself, I urge you to take it. The work will still get done, I promise. Be proud of yourself for letting yourself feel your feelings and addressing them. Be proud of yourself for getting through this time – you are a warrior!
Set boundaries with family and friends
Even though we have been forced to stay away from each other, in a way I have been seeing my friends and family more. This can be good and at the same time can be exhausting. One weekend, I turned my phone off completely because it was getting too overwhelming. One way to manage this is to set up a check in time with family and friends so that you are not on FaceTime for the entire quarantine.
And don’t forget to check-in with yourself too. How are you feeling? There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Take time to check in with yourself, you have all the answers within you. Constant check-ins are essential to maintain balance in your life.
Try and enjoy this time as much as possible – to move a little slower and with a little more ease. As an introvert, even though I am locked indoors, in a way I feel more free. I feel freedom to be with me, to move slow (which I have always craved) and to enjoy the small things because I know these are what truly bring me joy. So whatever that means for you, move a bit slower, sleep in a bit later and cuddle your family members a bit longer.
I hope this tips serve you while in quarantine. Remember, these are things I am trying to do to stay motivated. Yesterday, I was so exhausted I had a two hour nap and spent most the day on the couch. This is not a to do list, these are simply reminders. Take them or leave them, either way, I am sending lots of love and light.
Until next time,
P.S Don’t forget to use #ScholarCulture #ScholarSquad to keep me updated on your experiences as grad students.