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How to stay motivated in the current situation

Self-isolation can be stressful, tiring and even depressing - check out our tips to brighten up your days!

Does it seem like you just got your life together, studying in the university you wanted, perhaps obtaining a scholarship or finding a nice job and meeting a bunch of amazing people? Yes, not everything was perfect, but it was enough. Year 2020 is pretty wild so far, many of us are away from their families, others who managed to return home had to isolate themselves for 2 weeks and some stayed absolutely alone in their flat in Budapest. We know the struggle – it feels as if the whole world is going upside down and everything we can do about it is sitting in our couches because that is actually what the world needs now. Our daily life changed (for good or bad) and the fact that no one can tell when this will be over is killing the whole joy of “staying at home” – not only that it is fun to do whatever you want only in the first week but also the inability to predict when and how this will end is also sort of unsettling. We are sure all of you had plans for the summer, even the people who claim that they do not like planning. It used to be easy to say “I will go to Prague for my X birthday this year” because we knew that life is just life and we were biased enough to believe that nothing will disrupt the normality that humanity built over the last several decades. The normality of a 15 euro flight to Milano, or the absolutely ordinary trip from Budapest to Vienna in the weekend. The normality of full shelves, totally sane (well, maybe not at Astoria late at night) people, the almost-every-Thursday Corvinus parties, the university drama, the overdue assignments, the whispering in class, the taste of Café Frei’s coffee.

Yet, here we are – mostly at home, having not the brightest mood, pretty bored and not quite motivated to do much (to those of you who still manage to stay motivated – you’re awesome!). But every day is a missed opportunity (even in a global pandemic). To read, to watch, to talk, to listen, to taste, to feel. Do not get us wrong, there is no bad in staying in bed for a day… or a week. But at some point this has to stop. At some point you will have to build your new daily routine from having your breakfast to attending lectures from your desk to going to sleep at a reasonable time instead of watching YouTube, Netflix or Tik Tok. News are getting more and more alarming, mobility does not exist at this point but we still have our life in our own hands and the fact that the world stopped spinning around for a while does not mean we shall not live in our own idea of normality. You are the one who sets the rules for yourself!

How can we do that, you would ask? The magic is hidden in a healthy daily routine, a lot of online communication and a lot of activities you’ve wished trying but never did.

Having enough sleep in the healthy sleeping intervals on a daily basis is crucial for the sanity of your mind and soul.

And we are not trying to persuade you into waking up at 7 o’clock every morning, absolutely not – just try going to bed in an appropriate time and getting up before it’s way too late.

When you wake up at 12:00, days start melting into one, you start staying awake till late and your productivity levels and energy levels drop near to 0. This is due to the fact that the brain rests the best when you sleep between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. since our body’s natural rhythm mimics the sun’s rising and falling. Yes, going to bed at 10 o’clock sounds boring but try to go to bed around at least midnight. We are sure that those Netflix series are just so easy to binge watch but doing this till 5 o’clock in the morning means that you will miss pretty much all the essential hours in which your brain begs for sleep. Moreover, without enough (and sufficient) sleep you can’t form / maintain the pathways in your brain that let you learn and create new memories, and it’s harder to concentrate and respond quickly. Not to mention that sleeping too much (because that’s what most of us end up doing in quarantine) can lead to many of the same side effects as sleeping too little, including depression (yes, if you feel blue, your sleeping might be a huge part of the reasoning behind it), irritability and more. What if you go to bed at midnight and wake up at 8:30 – after all, you will end up with the same time in your hands, enough for doing homework, watching series and generally speaking having some fun.

A second big mistake is not maintaining your usual habits.

Who said that the fact that no one sees you means that you can just not wash your hair for a week?! You see you! Do it for your own satisfaction! Or not putting clothes on / staying in your pajama – you can still feel comfy in other clothes. Brush those teeth and that beautiful hair and boom, a star is born. Not to mention that now you have the full freedom (and time) to experiment with hairstyles if you’re a girl (sorry guys, maybe you can try shaving your beard if you have one). Habits are what shape normality. All the showers, the choice of clothing, even having breakfast – all those are pretty good daily life boosters in the present situation.

A bit about nutrition

Breakfast brings another important part of your day, eating. Do you cook every meal or you randomly snack throughout the day? Maybe you order your food, we don’t know. However, nutrition in such times is very hardly controllable – it is just so easy to eat when we are bored, for example. But think about in what shape you will come out of the quarantine… do you think that’s okay? If yes, then keep your eating habits, perhaps you actually eat like a normal human being, 3 meals a day in reasonable amounts. But if you did not find yourself in this description, then something has to change. With the limitation of our daily activities and time for movement, the extra calories you were burning while running late for the next lecture are now just staying with you. If you do not come out of your place and you do not take any walks for at least 30 minutes a day (which we do not recommend, stay home – stay safe!), then perhaps you have to be more cautious with your food intake – that one medium sized pizza you ordered just for dinner has approximately 1700 kcal, while your daily basal metabolic rate (or basically the calories your body needs if you’re sitting on the couch all day) must be around 1,200 to 1,600 calories as a female and roughly between 1,800 to 2,200 as a male, depending on factors like your weight, your personal nutritional needs and more. Also, those two instant ramen soups you ate for the whole day because you were too lazy to cook contain about 290 kcal each, way less than your actual needs. If you do the math you will understand why overeating and undereating can lead to different issues. Not to mention that unhealthy, prepacked or ordered foods are normally rich in fats and salt and carry little to no nutritional value when it comes to essential vitamins and minerals (which are supposed to boost our immune system, something very important in a time of pandemic). Eat mindfully and take care of your body, it will thank you later.

One more advice regarding personal health is doing around 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day.

If you are not a sporty person, that’s okay, then you must pay attention to your eating habits. However, the American Heart Association suggest that an average person must do at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity in order to maintain the ordinary heart functioning. In translation, this is a bit more than 20 minutes a day – just as much as a fast workout on YouTube which sometimes can be quite fun. You can find tons of different activities like free dancing lessons, free self-defense lessons, yoga and more! Experts claim that sports help with coping such conditions like low energy levels, insomnia and sadness, not to mention that you will probably look great by the time the pandemic is over.

Last, but not least – having fun and being social (something impossible, right?)

Try drawing that amazing painting you saw on the internet, unleash your inner Gordon Ramsey, try learning that new language that no one cares about but you love, attempt solving the Rubik’s cube, watch that super weird movie that no one wanted to watch with you, the time has come! Time is passing by which is pretty sad but it is the actual truth. Use those moments, invest them into something that might turn into something you love. And do not forget, always call your dear ones and your relatives. Even if you do not have the best relationship with some family members, try socializing, FaceTime your mother, tell her that her kid is doing fine if you are far away from her, tell your nana that she shall stay home for the sake of all the future food she wants to cook for you. Call your friends, let them know that everyone feels the same and it’s okay to feel low sometimes, explain how they can improve their state of mind, make jokes, send memes. Listen to your favorite joyful jams, dance around the house even if you are a terrible dancer and color your days – after all, it is you who can take care of your own mood most of the time. Life has not ended, it has just changed temporarily, but this is necessary and while we can be responsible humans we can also take care of ourselves and stay positive – rainbows appear exactly when it’s raining.

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  - Emily Brontë


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