Mental wellbeing for young people

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Kate Middleton photo Kate Middleton · 20 Jul, 2020

struggling with motivation? Reading this in bed to put off having to get up? Still in your PJs at lunch and can’t be bothered to get dressed? Or is it more about planning and work - getting stuck down to revision (yawn, exams are SO far off) or not leaving your homework till the VERY last minute …?

Everyone has days they struggle to get going, so what do you DO when you don't wanna DO ANYTHING?!

#WantMore about MOTIVATION

Issues with motivation are a classic in the teen vs adult arsenal - they want you to do stuff, you don’t want to do stuff - you do the maths.

But actually a lack of motivation - and something it often goes along with - difficulties focusing attention and getting properly into something - are actually really frustrating and can leave you feeling flat or flitty - like you never get anything done. And of course, there are the consequences when you have to face the music for the things you never got done …

So how do you fix this one?

Just get moving!

Did you know actually the most difficult bit of getting going is … well, getting going! It can be that if you can get down to the thing you need to do then your attention will kick in. So instead of focusing on the whole task think about the FIRST THING YOU NEED TO DO. This might be going to where you need to be (sitting at your desk, say), or getting together the things you need (where exactly DID you leave that folder?).

Avoid distractions!

When your powers of attention are a tad limited, almost ANYTHING can be a distraction. And double that when it is a task you don’t really want to do. Hate washing up? It will suddenly feel like an essential task when you are trying to avoid sitting down to do your maths homework. So get away from distractions - whatever they are - gaming, the munchies, going back to sleep, watching NetFlix … The best way to do this is generally to change room. So if the thing enticing you is in one room, go to another. Or separate yourself from the source - leave your phone somewhere else, or step away from the TV remote. You can set yourself a goal too - say after you’ve done an hour of whatever-it-is you can go back to the distraction device if you still want to. But you never know - you might even be in the zone by then!!

Get yourself some FLOW!

Heard of flow? It is a thing psychologists talk about when you are in the zone, feel really good concentration, focus, etc - and time just goes by PLUS you get stuff done. It’s really satisfying and tends to trigger positive emotions because we feel productive and a sense of control and achievement. Flow can help kickstart your motivation for other stuff too - so if you are struggling to get into something you DON’T really want to do, doing something you DO want to do that gets you focused can help. So why not head out for a quick ride, or run, or read for a bit, or whatever you love to do - but set yourself a time plan and after that ride on the wave and get on with the other thing(s) you need to do.

Wake up!

The other big killer to motivation and focus is when you are tired. And sometimes we all could use a little more sleep. So - know you are not firing on all cylinders because of lack of sleep? Well, obviously - get more (duh) but in the short term, there’s a few things you can try. First of all, grab a quick breather of fresh air - this has been shown to wake up your mind and can shift you into a better gear - especially when the weather is a bit cooler. Or, grab a quick nap. No, not for several hours, that’s going back to bed - I am talking 20-40 mins MAX - no longer or you go into a deeper sleep and will feel like a total slug when you wake up. A power nap is what we’re talking so set an alarm and snooze. And finally - caffeine CAN be your friend here - but don’t overdo it. If you are fighting drowsiness then a good shot of caffeine will briefly improve your concentration - BUT it is no replacement for actual sleep - and watch it in the afternoon. Caffeine works best when in sync with your sleep-wake rhythm so once your brain thins you should be getting ready to sleep soon it won’t have as good a kick - it works best in the mornings. And caffeine in the afternoon can also interfere with your sleep that night so creating a bit of a negative cycle. So keep it earlier in the day - oh and if you have a 30 min nap whilst the caffeine kicks in apparently that is a double dose of decisive direction!! And that’s how you’ll speak when you are that ready to go!!

Get a plan baby!

The last trick is the one you’ve heard most about I expect - plans, lists, timetables, structures. Schools love to teach ‘em, you hate it - but the truth is they do help. Even if it's just because you get into some flow when colouring them in … Seriously though the best planning is about breaking down a BIG task into SMALLER ones. Because the big ones feel WAY too much if your motivation is flagging. And if you feel overwhelmed you are much less likely to even start. So think of the smallest step you could take and get that one going. Got an essay to write? maybe start by reading a couple of articles on the right topic. Need to sort out your bank account? Maybe first of all just set yourself the task of finding the number to call. Actually calling it is the next step ;) You can write the mini task landmarks on the way to achieving the bigger one down and tick them off as you go - feeling like you’re getting somewhere will also help you move.





#WantMORE about RISK

#WantMORE about RISK