How to Switch On Your Brain’s Motivation Chemicals During Covid19!
The thing you may have noticed is – something odd is happening to you during lockdown…
You feel tired, even when you’ve not been doing much.
You find it hard to muster up any enthusiasm.
You can’t get your thoughts in order or concentrate properly.
For some reason, tasks that should be easy seem harder than they did before the pandemic crisis.
It’s as if a kind of depression or anxiety has come over you.
And it can be really frustrating.
Because at the same time you’re constantly being told that ‘now is the time to achieve all those goals that you couldn’t get around to before the quarantine’!
Set up a business… learn a new skill… take an online course… create some art…do it now!
And of course – In your head, you totally agree that you should do this.
obviously – In your heart, you really want to come out of this crisis in a better state than you went in.
But for some reason, you’re struggling to get motivated.
If this feels like you, then you might think that there’s something wrong with you or that you’re lacking in willpower, determination, stamina or some other quality that all the other people out there seem to have.
Well, that’s totally not true.
You’re absolutely NOT to blame for feeling like this.
Because there’s a very good reason for your struggle…
There is a deep anxiety problem that we all must overcome!
We all deal with crises in different ways…
Some of us hide our feelings and act bullish.
Some of us let our emotions pour out.
Some of us get angry.
Some of us feel sad.
Some of us feel nothing at all, just empty and dull and bare and dark – as if a light has turned off inside us.
Whatever your response, make no mistake, all of us are feeling some form of anxiety right now.
It could be about the health threat of the virus itself.
It could be about the economic impact of the pandemic.
It could be about the mental health effects of being locked down and unable to see our friends and loved ones.
It could be about our jobs, our businesses, our pensions, savings and investments.
Whatever it is, this anxiety can be a major obstacle if you want to get things done during lockdown.
Sure, there are some people who are thriving in this situation – they feel more driven to achieve goals because of the urgency of the crisis.
And if you’re one of them, that’s great – please use that energy!
But not everyone thrives.
For many people, anxiety makes it harder for them to concentrate on important tasks.
They feel less creative… less focussed… less inspired… less energetic… less motivated.
If this describes you, then don’t feel ashamed or guilty about it. This is a natural response to a serious emergency.
And the problem is as much chemical as it is psychological.
Avoiding the stress hormone
We’ve been living in our modern technological society for about two hundred years.
In historical terms, this is a blip.
For most of human existence – that is, the 200,000 years since homo sapiens first started striding around the African continent – we have lived a relatively slow-paced rural existence.
Our brains evolved to deal with immediate threats only. For instance, the sudden emergence of a predator through the bushes, or an attack by a neighbouring tribe.
These would release the stress chemicals adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream.
The effect would be to divert all our energies and thoughts into the ‘flight or fight’ response.
However, this would occur only very occasionally.
Today, we live in a world of constant distressing news.
Thanks to smart phones, TV, radio and social media, we’re bombarded with uncomfortable ideas, facts, events and images all day long, wherever we go.
And right now, during this pandemic, these are causing you serious stress – even if you’re not conscious of it.
Our brains didn’t evolve to cope with this constant threat of danger.
The never-ending media feed of anxiety-inducing information is creating a drip feed of cortisol in your blood stream that’s wreaking havoc on your mind and body.
Cortisol disrupts sleep patterns, causes fatigue and impairs your brain function, leading to poor memory and concentration.
These are the exact symptoms you might be feeling during lockdown.
They’re what could be making you feel like you cannot maintain focus, or that you cannot muster up enthusiasm and energy for pursuing projects.
The American author Robert Bloch said:
‘Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.’
So, it’s important that you find ways to switch off this thought-draining chemical, at least for small periods of time.
How to get things done during a crisis
If you can, switch off the news feed for a day or two (or even more) each week and try and live in the moment, if that is possible.
By the way – don’t say:
because remember Joda from Star Wars?
He said :
‘Do or Do Not – there is no Try!’
I suggest you live by that.
Stop trying, because it leads to nothing and just gives you can excuse to not do nothing – because you can use it as an excuse – you ‘tried’.
If not, then limit your exposure to the media for a set period in the day, every day.
Log off social media.
Switch off news alerts and Facebook alerts on your phone.
Don’t watch the news.
Don’t listen to the radio.
Instead, pay attention to the real world that’s around you and find the joy in it.
The sound of birdsong.
The smell of flowers.
Conversations with a loved one.
A walk in the park.
The taste of a delicious meal.
Find something that you enjoy – whether it’s a movie, a piece of music, baking cakes – and make sure you fit that into your day to release those feel-good chemicals.
In addition – if you can take a daily walk, push yourself to get a little out of breath.
This gentle form of exercise will release endorphins into your blood stream that will make you feel happier, more positive and focussed.
Deep breathing and meditation are good too – you don’t need to use any techniques, simply sitting still and quiet for ten minutes will work wonders.
Then when it comes to actually sitting at your laptop or computer to pursue a project, don’t give yourself too much of a challenge.
By that I mean doing something that takes maybe 10 minutes, 20 minutes tops each day.
It could mean watching a video, downloading a report, reading an article, or looking through a book chapter.
Just do that one thing.
Treat yourself to a reward.
Then the next day, attempt another small task.
Keep going like that in bite-sized chunks, without pressuring yourself.
At first it won’t feel like you’re moving anywhere fast, but after a while, you’ll see that you are making real progress towards your goal.
This is known as the Kaizen technique.
It’s something I highly recommend for anyone who is struggling with motivation.
But particularly now, during this coronavirus crisis.
Try these strategies together over the coming week and see what happens.
Do let me know if you get some results, I love to hear from you!