Photo Credit: MaryJoy Caballero, Unsplash
A curated list of tips for students to stay active and motivated despite lockdowns and gloomy weather
Isabelle Buchanan, Features Editor
We’ve all been there; it’s a rainy, grey day, you can feel the autumn chill in the air, and all you want to do is stay in bed, under a cozy blanket, watching Netflix. Trust me, I’ve been there my fair share amount of times. It’s normal, and probably healthy, to have those lazy days every now and then, especially as it gets colder out. However, with everything moving online and many cities going into their second lockdown, on top of the gloomy weather, many students might find themselves staying inside for days on end.
Staying inside and being fairly inactive is very detrimental to both one’s physical and mental health. Students will likely find themselves feeling more detached from others, unmotivated, difficulty concentrating, anxious, and more. Online school is rough enough as is, students don’t need extra stressors. That’s where I come in: I’ve put together a list of my tips and tricks to keep me motivated throughout the dreary months. Hopefully you’ll find some of these useful!
1. Find workouts you enjoy.
Many people find exercising daunting, exhausting, and quite frankly, boring. However there’s so many different types of exercise, it’s difficult to not enjoy any type of workout. Maybe circuit training isn’t for you, but there’s pilates, yoga, sports, or even something as simple as walking.
One good thing to come out of things moving online is that you can now find almost any type of workout online. Many trainers are posting workouts for free to Instagram live, or have started their own websites that you can get monthly subscriptions to. Many of these subscriptions offer free trials, so you can have the opportunity to try out many different platforms, without breaking the bank.
2. Schedule your workouts.
I get it: we’re all University of Toronto students, we’re all incredibly busy. Trust me, when I get overwhelmed, exercise is the first thing kicked out of my routine. However, working out is so important, not only for your physical health, but also for your mental health. Exercise has shown to increase motivation and concentration, and linked to better performance in school and work, while decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression. So why do we always cut out exercise when we get busy?
I’m not saying you need to workout for an hour every day; in fact, I think you should start off small, and work your way up. Choose a realistic amount of time to workout, even if that means 30 minutes once or twice a week. Setting realistic goals will motivate you to stick to your plan; conversely, being overly ambitious can be discouraging, as you might feel like you failed if you do not meet your goals.
Once you have chosen how much you want to workout each week, select specific times to exercise. This will hold you accountable, and allow you to create a routine. You’ll be able to manage your time, assignments, and work, knowing when you have decided to workout.
3. Plan (safe) adventures.
If you’re anything like me, you’re getting a bit tired of quarantine. Personally, I feel like I’m stuck in a bit of a rut sometimes, just in a cycle of attending class, doing assignments, and watching Netflix, without much socializing. As university students, having a social life and keeping our lives interesting is extremely important. While this obviously will look different this year, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be trying new things; in fact, social distancing might even push us to try new things we wouldn’t have usually, and find new passions. We should be taking advantage of this opportunity.
With a small group of friends, who you feel comfortable with, try to plan one new activity biweekly, or however often you want. We’re lucky enough to go to school in an exciting city, where, despite lockdowns, there’s always something exciting, and social-distancing-friendly, happening. For example, there’s Halloween light show drive-through, outdoor cinemas, apple picking, or picnics on the waterfront. You can head over to BlogTO (or maybe even future articles in The Mike) for more suggestions of new activities to try around Toronto.
4. Start now.
This one is short and sweet, but I cannot emphasize this one enough: start implementing these steps now. It takes 21 days to form a habit, and it’s much easier to start new routines while it is still nice out. If you develop these habits throughout November, you’ll be able to maintain them throughout the Winter.
5. Take time for yourself.
Despite the other steps I’ve suggested, it is important to still take time for yourself. Sometimes this means a few minutes a day, but sometimes it’s important to give yourself the day off. It’s ok to take a day off every now and then, it just becomes harmful when this lasts for days on end. Find something you truly enjoy doing, that relaxes you, that you can use as an outlet. This might be painting, playing a sport, meditating, reading; whatever it is, try to spend a few hours a week doing this activity.
These suggestions are by no means exhaustive; in facts, there’s hundreds of other ways to keep yourself motivated and uplifted that I have not mentioned. For example, eating healthy or getting eight hours of sleep play a huge role in your mood. These are a starting point, simple first steps you can take to make your winter semester as enjoyable as possible.