Staying Motivated While Quarantined

For most of us, it wasn’t too long ago that some level of movement was required, regardless of whether or not it was intentional, to get through the day. Traveling to and from work required getting ready; hopping on the car, train, or bike; and walking to and from the office. 

Since state-issued quarantines, however, home and the workplace have become essentially synonymous. This blending of environments has promoted more sedentary lifestyles. Aforementioned commutes have been reduced to moving from your bedroom to your home’s office or living room. And let’s be honest – sitting down is comfortable, and the bed you sleep in is just around the corner.

As sedentation becomes more and more likely, motivation may understandably start to wane. In lieu of exercise or going outdoors, one may opt for a nap. Done sparingly, this isn’t the worst thing (everyone loves a good nap). But letting quarantine limit movement can potentially undo healthy habits that were established beforehand. 

So what can we do to motivate ourselves to move during a time in which rest is substantially more accessible than staying active?

  1. Don’t punish yourself for taking a rest day.

Having a motive means having “something…that causes a person to act.” (merriam-webster.com)

By that definition, someone can absolutely have motivation for taking a rest day. Maybe that afternoon meeting with your team drained you. Maybe you pulled an all-nighter the day before to complete a project. Maybe the kids are being a bit too rambunctious and need your undivided attention. Whatever the reason, resting in and of itself is necessary. 

Problems may arise when resting seems to become less of a solution and more of a part of your daily routine. Are you resting because you’re genuinely fatigued and need to recharge, or because you don’t know how else to spend your time?

The key here is to have a reason to rest. Whatever that reason is, use it to hold yourself accountable when choosing between rest and movement.

  1. Engage in activities that you enjoy.

Think of an activity that you love. Is that activity accessible to you while in quarantine?

It’s a harsh reality that some activities we enjoy doing (e.g. swimming, organized sports, going to the gym) are inaccessible because of quarantine measures. Having these activities stripped away entirely can not only impact our routines, but affect how motivated we are to stay active. It is not a well-kept secret that we are motivated to do the things we like.

Finding alternatives for those activities that can either replicate or substitute them is vital. Let’s take basketball for example, a relatively accessible sport. All you need are shoes, a ball, and a hoop. But in a quarantine, finding an open court (let alone others to play with) is hard to come by. An alternative to shooting around can be to work on dribbling if you’re by yourself, or passing if someone you are living with is available.

Some other examples:

  • Ball sports: play catch in the yard; use cones or markers for individual drills
  • Swimming: dry land exercises to improve overall strength
  • Weight lifting: body weight workouts with household objects

It’s also important to recognize that there is no better time than now — when we may not have access to the activities we love — to try new activities. These new activities do not have to replace the old ones entirely, but can act as a substitute in the interim. Light running, hiking, and online classes are just some of the activities available to you if you are looking for something new to try.

Staying motivated will be easier if we are able to keep doing the activities we love. Find alternatives to these activities that can let you continue to enjoy them while in quarantine, or try something new and see how you like it!

  1. Engage in activities at a time that works best for you.

Before the quarantine, most work schedules could only  accomodate a morning or night workout. And although training at the lunch-hour is possible, you may be limited depending on your training preferences. 

Now that travel time has been greatly reduced (if not eliminated altogether), it is time to reflect on the time of day we choose to workout. Is that early, 5:30 AM workout really your preference, or is it out of necessity? Do you still feel rushed to fit in your workout between the end of work and dinner?

Being honest with ourselves about when we like to workout out will allow us to stay motivated to train consistently. If you don’t have to make a sacrifice to workout, such as waking up early or rushing through it, you might develop a better relationship with exercise. The newfound excitement around exercising being something you can look forward to as opposed to something that feels forced will likely result in more energy and enthusiasm during the training session (or even sessions!).

  1. It’s okay to change your mind.

Routines are great because they promote consistency. Consistency allows us to get into a rhythm that will help us feel in control of our lives and motivated to continue engaging in activities. But what if we start to realize that we aren’t as motivated to continue with the routines we had before (or even during) the quarantine?

It’s important to recognize that your preferences and what motivates you will change. And that’s fine. Let there be a natural ebb and flow to your likes and dislikes. If you commit to certain activities just because they have always been a part of your routine, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment when those activities no longer bring you the same joy. And again: all because an activity doesn’t bring you joy now doesn’t mean it won’t in the future.

Think of movement as a journey on which you are free to move about. The journey can be never ending if you allow yourself to not be rooted in one place.

Final Thoughts

The big takeaway from all of this is simple: do the things you love and establish routines that work for you. Not every training session or bit of physical activity needs to be arduous. We are allowed to have highs and lows while confined to our homes. And you are allowed to experiment, to try new things. You never know what new things you might discover about yourself and what truly motivates you.

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