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Staying motivated at uni during the Covid-19 pandemic

5 min read
29 January 2021

University can always be a challenging experience, no matter who you are, how you cope with different situations, or what you were like at school. However, this year we have had to cope with the extra anxiety surrounding Covid-19. Not a single person I know has not felt some kind of anxiety over this year. Everyday life seems harder, deadlines seem like more pressure than usual, motivation is lagging and winter break was not the relaxing time most people were expecting.

I have chosen to stay at home rather than go back to university after the holidays. With Covid rates increasing, I felt this was the best decision for me. I am lucky enough to get on with my family, and therefore living at home is not too bad for me at all; I miss my independence and my own space, but overall I am coping with it. However, like most people, I am still experiencing anxiety around motivation, guilt and generally around the coronavirus at the moment.

Like most people, I am still experiencing anxiety around motivation, guilt and generally around the coronavirus at the moment.

It is important that despite the difficulties surrounding Covid, you keep in mind the reasons why you’re doing the work you’re doing, whether that is a uni course, job or a personal hobby. It is really difficult being in the same room for days at a time, with no ability to break it up through social events or going for a day out, but there are ways you can make the most of it.

1. Make a daily routine

At work, school or university, you would have a specific routine to boost you through the day. Morning lessons, break, mid-morning lessons, lunch, afternoon lessons, home. This routine makes you feel motivated as you know exactly what you need to do every day.

Working or studying from home can be difficult as it is not as easy to make this routine, particularly if you are working to your own schedule rather than participating in live lessons/meetings/lectures. Try to set some tasks for the following day the night before, create a morning routine and set up for the day. With a routine to guide you through the day, tasks will feel less pointless as you tick them off. Make sure your goals are realistic, and like in a normal day of school or work, give yourself proper breaks to switch off and eat.

Make sure your goals are realistic, and like in a normal day of school or work, give yourself proper breaks to switch off and eat.

Make sure your goals are realistic, and like in a normal day of school or work, give yourself proper breaks to switch off and eat.

2. You don't need to feel guilty

It is normal for everyone to be feeling a bit low at the moment. Self-care is even more important than usual. Make time for special ‘you-time’ where you watch your favourite series, have a bath, listen to music, meditate or workout. By doing this, you can refresh yourself and prepare yourself for the next day.

If you feel like you failed today, didn’t do enough or didn’t get through what you wanted to, don’t carry this disappointment into the next day. Take some time out and be gentle with yourself. If you’re feeling pressure to stay up late and get it all done, you could write a list for the following day with the top priorities at the top. We all have days which aren’t productive, and this is completely normal.

We all have days which aren’t productive, and this is completely normal.

3. Try not to let Covid anxiety overwhelm you

Covid is anxiety-provoking for many reasons, but let’s do what we can to not be living in constant fear. As long as you are doing your best to stay safe, follow government guidelines and be sensible, you should try to think of this as a real achievement.

Remember that the world will eventually return to normal and this is not forever. In the meantime, keep celebrating your daily successes, remember that you’re doing your best and don’t feel guilty about that, and try to stay in contact with friends and family, even if it’s just a message a day.

Where to get help

We have lots of tips and advice for looking after your mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as guidance on where you can get support.

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