‘Lockdown ennui’ – our inner battle for motivation

Since lockdown was announced on 23 March 2020, most people can agree that their motivation levels started to take a dip. Working from home has now become the norm which has inevitably led to the reins loosening on our strict working schedules. Office deadlines, mandatory tutorial attendance and hourly contact hours have gone right out the window meaning that we have to rely on sheer willpower as a source of motivation.

However, this has quickly proven to be a challenge for many of us. Although initially working from home may have seemed like an idyllic scenario for those who’d prefer an extra lie-in over the early morning lecture, mixing home and work seems to have made procrastination even more tempting. A sentiment heightened by our much needed holiday breaks or celebratory nights out being postponed for the foreseeable future.

We have to rely on sheer willpower as a source of motivation.

Plus, we instinctively associate domestic settings such as our bedrooms with winding down or indulging in leisurely activities such as watching our favourite YouTubers or switching on Netflix for an hour (or two!). So when work/ studying suddenly invades our rest space, and with no overbearing boss or seminar leader to reprimand us for not working consistently, it’s only natural for our enthusiasm to take a dive and reach for the TV remote instead.

Yet now, there seems to be added pressure to strive for productivity thanks to our good old fickle friends — social media and ‘Hustle Culture’.  

‘Hustle Culture’ can be defined as such; the need to constantly strive for accomplishments by devoting much of your time to work. Suddenly having all this extra free time on our hands has created this ubiquitous yearning for optimising every spare minute of the day towards profit or some kind of self-improvement.

This mind-set has been accentuated by many social media apps such as Instagram or Snapchat where people tend to broadcast their accomplishments on a daily basis. Our beloved idols we cherish and follow on these apps frequently channel that familiar ‘triumph over adversity’ narratives via their endless stories promoting the latest workout routine or displaying their art projects despite being locked away in their houses.

Now that’s not to say many of these influencers on social media aren’t inspiring to a great extent. In fact, I’d argue that some stories such as Flo Simpson’s weight loss journey on TikTok and Chloe Ting’s Two Week Workout challenges have provided us with empowering content; both inspiring us to push ourselves in healthy ways yet also encouraging us to take care of ourselves and take a step back every now and again. Videos like these are not only new sources of entertainment to alleviate ‘lockdown ennui’ but are also offering constructive forms of motivation by not putting any pressure on viewers to meet some kind of high expectation.

In other words, it’s more of a way of saying “here’s what you can do” NOT “here’s what you must do!” And that’s where many people – not just influencers but other people on social media – fall short. Whilst there is no doubt that their intentions are in the right place by wanting other people to strive for personal development, this can create unnecessary stress and pressure for those of us who are particularly struggling during the pandemic. It has been overstated but these are daunting, uncertain times leaving many people anxious about their family’s health, their own livelihoods, feeling withdrawn from society.

That mental strain alongside the added pressure of social media accounts telling us to ‘JUST DO SOMETHING!’ or interrogate us with the old ‘Why are you lying in bed? Do something with your Monday morning!’ can sometimes make us feel like we’re failing. By constantly force-feeding us all these showcases of personal achievements, it can make some people feel inferior and attach unnecessary feelings of guilt and responsibility to the fact that they’re not doing the same.

In reality however, just obeying government guidelines by staying at home and being safe is more than enough! We’re all missing our friends and the night life, we’re all missing our lunch time routines in the town centre or seeing our grandparents on the weekend. And for some people this can hit hard and be an overwhelming experience.

Staying at home and being safe is more than enough!

So by all means indulge in those lie ins and extra few snacks between meals! If you enjoy creating or doing sport by all means keep up that creativity and enthusiasm but don’t feel like you’re under strict obligation to maintain it or complete this or that challenge. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic and now more than ever we must prioritise ourselves. You are enough and if ever you’re feeling exhausted, that extravagant baking recipe can always wait until tomorrow!

By Katie Heyes

Image: by Ivan via Flickr

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