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Motivation and the Pandemic-Fatigue

This March marks the one-year anniversary of the decision to extend March-break for students. This event preceded the many stay-at-home orders and the online schooling effort in a bid to halt the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario. For many students, this last year has been a challenge and, after so much online learning with limited social interaction and teacher/peer feedback, it is becoming difficult to maintain motivation and engage with the schoolwork as actively as before. As tutoring Toronto mentioned, this feeling of “pandemic-fatigue” among students is a common one and a few things you could do to help are the following:

Recreate a “normal” environment – Online learning can blur the line between what is schooltime and what is “downtime” since everything takes place in the same space. This lack of clear delineation between work and rest can expediate fatigue and decrease motivation. Trying to get as close as possible to your regular schedule and routine (pre-pandemic) could help alleviate this. This could mean setting up a separate and appropriate study space for yourself, dressing for “school” every morning, actively engaging and keeping in touch with your teachers and peers, or maintaining a specific “work-day” schedule.

Limit Burn Out – As mentioned earlier, online learning can lead to blurring between rest and work. For many students, this overlap can lead to feelings of fatigue and burnout as students feel they’re “always on” in the months of online learning. A few tips that could help alleviate this phenomena are to: (1) remember to take breaks (look up the Pomodoro technique) during your studying, (2) keep your expectations reasonable and don’t try to do everything at once (remember you want progress not perfection ) and (3) don’t forget to reward yourself if you do well! Positive reinforcement goes a long way in warding off mental fatigue.

Don’t lose sight of your goal – During the pandemic, students can fall into a cyclical routing of waking up, attending zoom classes, studying, and back to sleep. This repetitive cycle can cause students to lose track of why they are studying and expending all that effort in the first place. Make sure to remind yourself of what you are studying for. People tend to lose focus and motivation quickly if they aren’t sure of what they are working TOWARDS. What is your end-goal and has it changed recently? Is it do develop a certain skill or improve in a certain subject? How do you plan to achieve this and has your method been effective so far? Being able to set clear goals for yourself helps fuel your motivation as you see yourself getting closer to achieving them!

Finally, Trust that this isn’t permanent – Many of us hoped that students would be back in schools before the start of 2021. As we remember this one-year milestone, students can fall into the trap of internalizing that this method of online-learning is one that they are stuck with for the foreseeable future. This is not the case. Once the world (and Canada) is back to a more normal baseline, in-person teaching will be back and when it is make sure to put your right foot forward and be ready to jump back in!

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