It has been over a year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Although millions of doses of vaccines are being administered, spending month after month after month indoors has taken a serious toll on the mental health of large portions of the population. The stress and anxiety that comes from fear of the virus and financial insecurity, restrictions that forbid individuals from seeing family members and friends, and inability to go out occasionally have led to people unable to be productive at school or work.
One survey found that nearly half of all adults under the age of 50 have found it somewhat or very difficult to feel motivated because of the pandemic. It is even worse among adults between the ages of 18 and 29, with over half of them saying they lacked motivation in the past year.
It is not, therefore, uncommon for people to not have the energy or drive to be productive when there is an ongoing global health crisis. However, some people also do not have the luxury to lose their jobs when so many Americans have become unemployed in 2020.
What can workers do in order to recapture motivation to work while still stuck at home and waiting for the pandemic to be over?
Unplug On Time
Previous studies have found that, when employees were permitted to work from home, they were more productive. They submitted their work on time and produced better quality output.
However, there is a caveat. When people work from home, the line between professional and personal is blurred. Time for family gets mixed with time for work. For example, working parents are forced to juggle responsibilities at work with child care.
But, during the pandemic, when everyone has to stay indoors, it is much harder to draw the line. Workers who are struggling with motivation because of the pandemic might benefit from work-life balance coaching.
More than just a trendy buzzword in the corporate landscape, work-life balance has been proven to help reduce stress and burnout within the office. Workers are more motivated to give their best when they get the chance to unwind and recharge on weekends.
Right now, employers should look into being more lenient with work schedules. Despite the work from home setup, workers should also be given paid time off and be encouraged to take advantage of the perk. Doing so would ensure that everyone has time to spend with family or alone to recoup their lost motivation.
A study conducted by researchers from Harvard University in 2018 found that when people created their own rituals — which is defined as a series of actions followed strictly and done repeatedly over time — they gained better self-control and discipline.
Rituals eventually become automatic which allows the mind to go empty and utilize one’s energy on more important tasks later on. It also allows people to feel more productive throughout the day which increases confidence and leads to motivation.
The brain is controlled by hormones. The desire to do something will not suddenly materialize out of thin air. The mind has to instead be convinced that an activity is not a punishment but an enjoyable task.
When a person exercises, for example, they can listen to a podcast or watch a movie on Netflix. While working, an employee can celebrate by biting into their favorite chocolate bar after they have completed a grueling assignment.
However, some rewards can be self-destructive. People should avoid going on social media after an assignment because chances are, they will waste more time scrolling on their feed than initially intended.
Talk to a Mental Health Professional
When a person loses motivation to do work, it might be a sign of mental health distress. Issues like anxiety and depression can prevent a person from being productive and finding the drive to fulfill their roles at home or at work.
People who are experiencing a lack of motivation due to mental health issues should consult a mental health professional. Therapy can help parse through one’s feelings and thoughts, then create a way to gain back the motivation that the pandemic, recession, and restrictions put in place destroyed in the past year.
The pandemic was a traumatic experience and it has already led to an increase in people reporting symptoms of mental health issues. The lack of motivation to work is only one symptom of the difficult year that was 2020. People can still recover their drive to work and succeed in 2021 by following these tips.