The Importance of Self-Motivation & Care by Natalie Schluper

Hello, my name is Natalie and in this section, I’m going to be talking about how we can self-motivate. I am going to be talking about how quarantine has affected our ability to self-motivate and my personal story and journey with this journey. I’m also going to be opening up about how I struggled with procrastination and a few useful tips. I am also going to be describing some ways that saying home has positively benefited me both in my ability to do well at school and how it has laid down a good foundation for the rest of my life. I hope this is relatable to all of you and useful to those who are reading (or listening) to the podcast. 

The first thing I want to go over is some of the things that have caused a struggle for me. One conclusion that I have come to is that we spend a lot of time with ourselves when we are alone and that can have consequences. So, during this year we have had to cope with that reality and I have struggled more than I thought I would. There were many reasons why I struggled with this but the main thing is the huge lack of motivation. I kept thinking “what is the point of doing all of this?” I was having a mental battle with myself each time I had to do something. I wasn’t used to that because beforehand I used to live half a lifestyle where I was running around the entire day. We had school and I had a lot of activities that ran really late. Doing everything in one place is something I’m not used to. Most of us were pretty busy at that point in our lives before we had to switch. Like I said before, it is very easy when we are in that position to lose track of everything. It is so easy to start thinking that things don’t matter but they really do matter. We just have to work harder to believe that. That feeling can really stress you out and it can make you feel really unproductive. Spending a lot of time alone also means that we are really prone to creating a huge mental blockage which comes from what I said about feeling that things don’t matter, which can cause us to feel that things don’t matter. If I had to say what caused me to struggle the most, it would be that. 

How do I deal with procrastination? One thing I have to say is that it can ruin your mental health. People really underestimate how this can ruin your mental health, especially when you aren’t used to battling it. When I procrastinate, I tend to be very confident in the beginning of the day to get things done and periodically I feel more stressed out. At the end of the day, I don’t feel good because I didn’t do the thing I intended to do and this cycle continues and this just puts me in a miserable state. I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this. It doesn’t make you feel good, it makes you feel like a failure which makes your motivation even worse. 

On days where even before we had to spend so much time alone when we had weekends, holidays, or breaks, I ran into the same issue. I just didn’t have the time to really work through it and I didn’t really care to fix it. That didn’t really affect me because I was able to ignore it and achieve what I wanted to. Now, that is just not the case so I wanted to share some things that helped me minimize this tendency.

One big thing is that you shouldn’t set expectations too high, just remember that a little is better than nothing. When we are in the midst of something that is quite new, we kind of overlook how much that whole concept kind of affects us. We all as humans long for that sensation of “I was productive,” “I did everything I wanted to do.” We want to finish everything we wanted to do by 10 P.M. We want to have rooms in our lives for the things we enjoy. I knew this ahead of time but I was just doing so many things that I was on Cloud Nine thinking that I could literally conquer the world. I wanted to do so many things that I just didn’t have time to do because I wasn’t being realistic. For example, I woke up thinking that I was not only going to finish school and extracurriculars but think that I could read for two hours, go on a walk, do my chores, and go on a run and buy my friend’s birthday gift and so much more. All these things, you can’t fit them all on one day. When expectations are this high, you feel unmotivated all the time. Believe me, trying to fit everything in one day and trying to maximize every single minute isn’t realistic and puts more stress on you in the long run. 

This next point, I know it will be really annoying, is to put your phone away. This isn’t with the intention that you are doing something bad on your phone but that there is no denying that it is a HUGE distraction. Coming from someone who is really prone to be distracted, it can really throw you off especially when you check your phone early in the morning. This bad habit means that you start your day off on the bad foot and you spend your time doing unproductive things and you have a hard time getting started on what you want to do for the day. One day that helps me steer clear of this issue is to put my phone downstairs or if you don’t have another floor, try putting your phone in a different room. Then, you are a force to spend the first few minutes away from your phone. It is really surprising how much of a difference this had made. Despite the fact that it is a huge pain and takes too much willpower, it is not always the best and you don’t long for that but I encourage you to at least try and make it work. 

Additionally, I want to talk about the importance of taking care of yourself because all aspects of your health are connected and the human body is not designed to stay sitting the whole day. However, we do have to sit for long periods of time. It can up your stress level more than you think even though you aren’t doing things that are physically demanding on your body. After doing a bunch of homework. We often don’t feel like exercising but feel like scrolling through TikTok and Instagram. We don’t want to spend time exercising. I advise you to try to push past this a few times a week because not only will you feel better but it will also improve your efficiency. Literally just going on a 30-minute walk or things like that. Also, when you are exercising your body, it releases endorphins and your stress level will go down. Ask yourself questions such as “Are you eating enough?” “Are you drinking enough water?” “Is your food healthy?” “Have you slept for at least eight hours?” Keep these things in mind too because when you do the right thing for your body, you feel less demotivated. You procrastinate less, your brain function is better, and you lead a healthy lifestyle. This is obviously important for gliding through difficult projects more easily because it makes your work feel less of a burden and keeps you from procrastinating as much. 

Another thing I want to go over, “What are some motivational tips?” Some fo the things I said above are part of self-motivation such as taking care of yourself, limiting time engaging in distractions, etc. Other things are to create a good space for yourself. Don’t work somewhere in a place that makes you feel unhappy. It doesn’t have to be perfect and I know that a lot of us have difficult circumstances when we are at home but the minimum thing is to keep organized. Don’t have them in a big mess because even when we are outside and we have to share a space with others, keeping it organized will help you feel more put together. Take baby steps. If you are in a place right now where you feel like you aren’t doing very well, you aren’t accomplishing as much as you want, trust me I’ve been in this place so many times it’s crazy. Really, you need to take baby steps. Every single day, you need to change and maybe incorporate one thing in your day that you didn’t do the previous day to help you reach your goals, being the best version of yourself. Don’t try to fix everything in 24 hours! Try to fix things in a month, this itself is a pretty ambitious goal because many of us overestimate how much we can do when it comes to things like this. 

Also, don’t compare yourself to anybody, especially right now when we have social media. We have Youtube videos and all these things. We often see somebody else’s life and see how good they’re doing and how many amazing things they’ve done. We tend to compare ourselves a lot. The bad thing is that you cannot replicate somebody’s life. It’s okay to be inspired by somebody but please don’t try to replicate their lives because it is not going to work. It will lead to more disappointment. 

Additionally, do things that you enjoy and incorporate them throughout the day. Make these things the reward and if you are really struggling, talk to your friends and family about things that are bothering you. Maybe if school is really hard or if you are working, these things are difficult and talking about them can help. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, at a bare minimum journal your thoughts and feelings. You need to be talking about your feelings. 

I also want to talk about how these current struggles we’ve been having will later have a positive impact. More specifically, if you are able to move past this mental blockage that we have right now, how will it positively impact our lives if we are able to fix it? Let me just say that when COVID-19 passes, we will still have times when we are alone and need to get things done. This is inevitable especially if you are a student. I used to hate days like these because I thought they were difficult and boring. This is because I wasn’t making a conscious effort to control my procrastination. If all of these things hadn’t happened, I would’ve had the chance to fix these things earlier on and I wouldn’t have had a problem when more pressure was put on me. Also, I had plenty of time for self-improvement without all the additional noise. I had the chance to analyze what my life looks like right now, spend more time with my family, pursue some new hobbies, and had some time to reflect and have things I want to change. I’m not sure if you can relate to any of this but I can tell you that it is okay to pinpoint the good things that have come out of this. It is just a good habit to develop. As a part of the conclusion, I want to say that many people are struggling more than I am and maybe more than you too. Those people still also deserve our love and support and you might want to reach out to those individuals you know of and talk to them. Relate with one another to help discuss these emotions. None of this is to downplay or diminish people that are going through a lot more struggles but it is to simply say that we can all better our lives by implementing a few simple practices. 

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