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  • Writer's pictureStudent Wellbeing Service

Struggling with Motivation?

Updated: Aug 14, 2020


Motivation can be a struggle in these uncertain times. Daily life routines can be difficult at the moment such as revising for exams or doing exercise. Even getting up in the mornings can be a challenge. Sometimes it is really hard to be motivated to do the things we know keep us well such as healthy eating, exercise or staying hydrated.

Particularly at this time, it might be helpful to identify a daily goal, for example, to start or finish a specific piece of work or to exercise.

The following example is around starting exercise which we are all encouraged to do but could be applied to revision, course work or something that you have been putting off.

Set one goal

· Consider using the third person for example …

Viv will start an exercise programme to get fitter

· Add meaning and purpose-who or what will it help? What am I doing it for?

“It will help me to keep well, get outside and boost my mood and energise me so I am able to do the studies I need to do”

· Plan steps on the way to the goal How? When? With?

“I will do it alone. At 10:00 am and start with walking/jogging once around the local park.”

· Make sure the goal is specific, achievable and reasonable

“Walk/jog once around the park, 3 times a week”

· How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal?

“I will know when I am able to jog around the park once without stopping more than 2 times and it becomes part of my daily routine-a new habit”

· Consider possible obstacles and how to overcome them

e.g. Rain: change time to dryer time in day/put up with it, its only rain

e.g. Clash with lectures: change time to later/ organise a schedule to fit exercise in

e.g. Won’t get up: set alarm/ ensure have enough time before demands of day set in

Share your plans with others

Tell friends or family of your plans, maybe they can help with buddying up? Exercising or working in groups can often be highly motivating and more successful than alone. Although, this may be harder at the moment sharing goals and experiences with others can often build confidence and maintain interest.

Pros and Cons?

What are the impacts of changing behaviour however small? What will change if I do nothing? Will I or others benefit and how?

Stop unhelpful habits

Be aware of unhelpful habits e.g. getting up late, lack of routine and try to create new habits. Perhaps change your daily activity. Create a healthy balance of work, rest and play.

Acknowledge success and reward yourself when you reach each step.

Review this each day. Every morning, ask “what can I do today?” At the end of each day, “what have I achieved today, however small?” Maybe write it down as a visual record of your achievements. Perhaps build up to a larger reward.

Acknowledge unhelpful or negative thoughts and feelings

· Give up the struggle of trying to stop them

· It's just a thought, not a fact

· Use positive and encouraging self-talk: be your own coach.

· Practise self-compassion instead of self-criticism

· Think of what you would say to a friend with the same goals: be your own friend

· Change focus of attention – values and goals

Visualise success

Imagine, see yourself in your mind’s eye starting out on your first steps, seeing things through and achieving your goal. Imagine how that would feel. Imagine the feedback from others.

Act the role

Choose someone to act as a role model whether fictional or real, this could even be a friend or colleague. Imagine yourself acting in the character of that person, achieving your goal. Practise acting that person for real – again using one step at a time

Do it! In spite of thoughts or feelings…

· Take action

· Just do it

· Stick with it

Vivien Farrand

Student Wellbeing Adviser - Faculty of Science

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