First of all, I understand that everyone is unique in their personalities and circumstances. This is not meant as advice for an emergency/crisis situation, but rather how to fight a “stuck”, burnt out, unmotivated feeling. When nothing seems interesting, you feel like you’re not getting anywhere in life, and the days just blur together.
I know many people have been there, I certainly have. I wanted to share simple actions I took to improve my mindset and increase motivation. Mainly, this involves clearing your mind, dedicating time to goals, and working hard (within reason, don’t overdo it!), even if it doesn’t seem like the most exciting thing in life. This might not work for everyone, but it’s certainly worth a try.
1. Try A Mental Reset
Get rid of anything that distracts you. You know, the apps/games/TV shows you turn to when you’re bored and lonely to cheer you up? It’s nice to have these available, but if you’re distracting yourself, this makes it harder to focus on improving your real-life situation. Another benefit—once you’ve cut down on entertainment, regular tasks seem less boring. Woohoo, laundry!
Log off from social media or delete social apps besides those that you absolutely need to communicate with your family, friends, coworkers, etc. No online games or video games. Minimize screen time unless it’s necessary for work.
Make sure you keep your living area reasonably clean and organized. Spending even 5-10 minutes each day tidying can have a great impact. Don’t let trash or clutter accumulate. Vacuum/sweep as necessary. No piles of dirty dishes!
2. Evaluate Your Life Honestly
Once you’ve spent time without the usual distractions, you can take inventory of your life. Think about what you typically spend your time, money, and energy on. Do you want to make changes to any of this?
Do any goals come to mind? Is there something you wish you did more of or something you wish you’d spend less money on? Feel like you’re consumed by a certain thought, habit, etc.? Write it down. You can also keep a journal of your actions and purchases for a week and see if you notice a pattern. It may be intimidating to challenge your less-than-ideal habits, but those might be standing between you and your goals!
3. Schedule Your Time
Once you’ve jotted down some goals and priorities, carve out regular times for working on them. Are you aiming to improve your health, find a job, meet more friends? Dedicate certain times to exercising, cooking healthy food, filling out job applications, learning new skills, etc. For instance, you may choose to spend an hour each day applying for jobs, half an hour working out three times a week, an hour twice a week prepping meals—whatever makes sense to you. You can always change your schedule as needed, but keep going. You may write this all down in a planner or use a calendar app.
4. Improve Your Health
I’m not qualified to give professional health advice, and there is a lot of conflicting info out there. We all have unique bodies and health. I believe that wellness involves finding the balance that works for you—what makes your own body feel good. If you suffer from any medical issues, it’s best to seek professional advice if possible. That being said, there are overarching methods of self-care you can try to generally improve your health. These include sleep, food, and exercise (if you are physically capable).
Get consistent sleep. Stop using your electronics one hour before bed (unless there is an emergency), or at least set them on night mode. Consider buying a blackout mask or blackout curtains—the light can affect your quality of sleep. I must stress how important sleep is—you will feel more refreshed and capable of working on your tasks.
Dietary needs are different for everyone; I suggest including protein, veggies/fruits, and complex carbs. A healthy lunch might include chicken, steamed broccoli/cauliflower, and brown rice. Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring—you can experiment with spices and flavors. Drink enough water in the morning, throughout the day, before meals. Bring your meals to work/school with you in a container so you don’t get hungry or tempted by snacks. Sugary foods and beverages shouldn’t be a daily special, but treat yourself occasionally if you feel like it. Please don’t fall prey to the idea that healthy food is always expensive or takes a long time to prepare. Some canned and frozen foods are nutritious, affordable, and ready to eat. I enjoy frozen broccoli and cauliflower, as well as canned spinach, beans, and chicken.
Regular exercise helps relieve stress and promote overall health. Keep it simple and start with the basics. Make sure you’re starting at a manageable level of difficulty and working out regularly throughout the week. Work on different types of fitness: think cardio, strength, and flexibility. As your body gets used to the exercises, you can increase intensity.
You may also incorporate short periods of exercise throughout the day. For example, after every 30 minutes you spend sitting down, take a break for some activity. Try two to five minutes of marching in place, arm circles, jumping jacks, etc. You may also do stretches at the end of the day. Find activities that keep you motivated and feeling well.
5. Keep A Holistic Approach
This is crucial, and I wish I thought of it earlier in my life. Many aspects of life are intertwined; improvements to one part of your life can carry over to another. If you’re feeling better, you’ll probably have more energy to accomplish your goals. One example is sleeping. Proper sleep helps with brain function and mood, among other things.
So if something isn’t falling into place, focus on what you can control and work from there.
When I finally tried getting consistent sleep, I recognized some habits that were holding me back from success, and thought of ways to get my life on track. I started exercising/eating nutritious meals. I gained enough energy to work and study at the same time, and became much more relaxed and confident around people. I made more friends. My mental clarity and decision-making skills increased. I was able to learn about different opportunities, volunteer more, and advance my career. I began seeing meaning in life. It was a great step on the path to success. I hope you, dear reader, experience the same thing.