How to stay motivated in a pandemic

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Struggling to find the motivation to study from home? Read Chief Medical Officer, Dr Paula Franklin’s advice for staying motivated and positive during a pandemic.

About Dr Paula Franklin

Dr Paula Franklin is Chief Medical Officer at Bupa. She studied medicine and worked as a GP in the UK, before going on to study public health in the US. She holds an MBA from London Business School, a MA in Bioethics and Medical Law and a diploma in counselling.

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Top tips for staying motivated and positive

1.Be kind to yourself

Staying motivated can be difficult at the best of times and really hard when you’re separated from school and friends.

Some days will be harder than others and it’s ok to feel fed up when sometimes things don’t go as you want them to. It is impossible to be on your best game all the time, every day. 

Accept that some days will be better than others – make the most of the better days and don’t beat yourself up about the not so great days. 

2.Talk to someone

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If you find that you have a lot more not-so-great days than better days, then talk to someone about it.

Just sharing things that are bothering you can help. It’s also helpful to realise that you are not the only person feeling the way you do. 

Don’t let lockdown mean isolation – reach out, even just to one person, and make a connection to support each other.

3.Think positive

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When you’re not studying try to fill your mind with positive things – things that you like, that make you feel happy, that make you smile.

What you put into your mind does make a difference – try to avoid negative news, music, pictures, TV and people that you know bring you down.  This will improve how you feel generally about everything.

4.Start with the interesting tasks on your to-do list

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Try to find something in a piece of work that interests you – even if the work is something that you don’t really want to do. 

Finding just one interesting thing can be enough to get you through a task. If there's really nothing that interests you, then plan a time to complete the work and "Nike it "– just do it!

I find nothing worse than having work hanging over me that I don’t want to do.  I know I will have to do it eventually and it is like a cloud over my head so I just make a time for it and get it out the way.

5.Focus on the longer term, the bigger picture.

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What can doing this bit of work give you?  Will it help you get onto a course you want to study, or bring you a step towards a job you want?

All big achievements come from small ones – the small ones have to be done and it’s easier sometimes if you think of them as building blocks towards a bigger thing that you want.

Also, sometimes studying can just be interesting and useful itself.  I think it’s great to know stuff – it gives me a good feeling!

What I wish I had heard when I was a teenager.

My advice would be to think carefully about the person you want to be, and work towards being that person. Don’t be the person that everyone else is telling you that you should be. 

TV, Instagram, magazines, friends, celebrities – the world is full of people and images telling us to be something, telling us what to value, what shoes we should wear, what shape our eyebrows should be, what shape our bodies should be, what bag we should carry, and on and on. 

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When I was 16 I had a problem with my feet and I was told to wear a certain type of shoes that were really, really old fashioned (even then!) and not at all cool.

No one I knew would have ever worn them and I was made fun of and some people said nasty things. But I knew that I wanted to have good feet and I kept focused on the fact that by wearing these shoes I would not have this foot problem in future.

I have no idea where any of those people are now who were so horrible to me then (or what their feet are like), but my feet have been fine. 

Don’t let other people decide on your life – decide for yourself who you want to be and how you want to live.