Given the recent surge in a lack of motivation due to isolation and online learning, what are some coping mechanisms to help drive and urge people to ‘do what needs to be done?’

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How widespread is this problem?

Over the course of the pandemic, researchers did a study of over 15 thousand students in a Dutch university and interviewed an additional 166 students in its bachelor of psychology program. They found that students preferred campus-based education to online learning and that most students rated their own motivation as having gone down. It’s important to note that while a direct cause and effect relationship isn’t listed in this study, there is a noticeable correlation between the pandemic and a loss of motivation among students. 

Additionally, CityNews (based in Vancouver) reported a study published by Morneau Shepell which stated that ‘almost four in 10 employees are feeling less motivated to work as Canada hits the six-month mark of the COVID-19 pandemic.’ 

Although these two separate research findings only refer to specific countries, they speak volumes and can be generalized to a global scale—both workforce employees and students alike have felt a loss of motivation over the course of the pandemic. 

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What you can do

I interviewed my local psychologist, Dr Candice Render, who had spent over 20 years in the field of psychology. I asked her a multitude of questions, however, one of her answers stood out in particular to me, which indirectly prompted me to pursue this topic. I asked her what caused people to reach out to her and people in her field, asking for help. She named a number of factors—anxiety, depression, work, however she said that in this day and age one of the #1 reasons a patient is sent to her is because they are suffering from a lack of motivation. I asked her what she tells them, and she says to not wait for motivation, because it may never come. The tasks need to be completed whether you’re motivated or not, so you need to do them either way. She says to not give yourself time to talk yourself out of it, to just do them—through baby steps, or massive ones, whichever your preferred method is. 

Verywellmind provided some insightful tips as well. One was to ‘act as if you feel motivated’, as in change your behaviour (change out of your pyjamas, wake up earlier, clean your workspace so as to stimulate productivity). Another fundamental form of action you could take is through the practising of self-compassion. This, research suggests, is extremely motivating. This is because when one struggles with adversity, being self-deprecating will only worsen the situation—being kind to yourself, practising mindfulness, and having common humanity will provide comfort and motivation to complete those essential tasks. 

This pandemic has hit many hard. While these research findings may be considered insignificant compared to the serious problems and effects that many of you are facing, I hope that I have helped even just a little, if at all!

Works Cited

Amy Morin, LCSW. “The Best Way to Boost Your Motivation When You Just Aren’t Feeling It.” Verywell Mind, 16 Feb. 2021, www.verywellmind.com/what-to-do-when-you-have-no-motivation-4796954.

Lyall, Sarah. “We Have All Hit a Wall.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 3 Apr. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/04/03/business/pandemic-burnout-productivity.html.

Zura, David. “Employees Feel Less Motivated to Work during Pandemic: Study.” NEWS 1130, 15 Oct. 2020, www.citynews1130.com/2020/10/14/employee-motivation-pandemic-study/.

https://psyarxiv.com/kn6v9/download/?format=pdf 

7 Comments

7 comments

  1. Being confined in one place can make one day seem to stretch into the next. To stay on track, make a clear list of what you need to accomplish each day, and consider adding some long-term goals .

  2. Hi Sonia, I’m in the other abnormal psychology class. I really appreciate how your project sheds light on a global issue that we’re all very affected by. I’m sure the vast majority of people can agree that the pandemic had lead them to feel less motivated, especially due to quarantine and isolation.

  3. Hi Sonia! What a super interesting a relevant topic! I have definitely found myself way less motivated in distance learning, so I really enjoyed reading through your suggestions. I also loved that you interviewed your local psychologist. Again, great job.

  4. Hi Sonia, this is a really interesting topic to look into. As someone who has struggled with motivational issues during quarantine, I think that these suggestions will definitely be something I try to implement into my own life. Great work!

  5. Hey Sonia, I think you did some amazing work with this project because it is a very big struggle indeed. I think this was a home run worth of a project and I hope you continue your work.

  6. Hey Sonia! This was a super interesting a relevant research topic; I feel as though many teens would benefit from reading and learning about your project! It was a great incorporation to interview a local psychologist, which gives a credible perspective. I will definitely be using these disciplinary techniques to push myself at the end of this year! My question to you is, which aspects of the pandemic do you think sparked a decrease in motivation? The change in environment, the social isolation? I would love to see what you learned!

  7. Hey Sonia!
    I think your presentation is very applicable right now and am so glad you shed light on this topic! I found the idea of acting motivated interesting and will definitely try it out.

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