In my last post I talked all about realistic expectations, and it may have sounded like too much to even start thinking about for those with limited energy (put your hand up, everyone with narcolepsy!) so today I’m going to discuss some different ways that we can increase and maintain our motivation.
This is actually quite pertinent to my life right now, as I’m currently in Stockholm (the other side of the world from my native Sydney) and trying to get a job! Being unemployed tends to bring out the worst in me, as I generally live by the philosophy that keeping busy keeps me sane, and sitting around trying to apply for jobs doesn’t really lend itself to keeping busy… or sane! So this is as much a reminder for myself as it is for you 😉
Here I’ve tried to list a few different ways that I use to increase motivation, from physical things like exercise to different ways of goal-setting. Nothings will magically solve the problem, as you still have to use a bit of will power, but these ideas can restart your engine when you are feeling ambivalent about the world!
This probably seems obvious, but to start off with it’s likely that you’re going to need medication to help you get going. When I don’t take my medication (especially before I changed my diet) I am constantly half asleep, and so I don’t even has the capacity to think about what I could do to improve my situation. As I said in my last post, the medication won’t do everything for you, but it should lift the cloud of sleepiness enough for you to at least realise that you should be doing something!
For a lot of people, timing your medication makes a big difference as well. For instance, I know some people who take Modafinil have told me that if they take their dose too late in the day, it doesn’t lift their feelings of grogginess as effectively and may end up wasting the day. Figure out what the best timing is for you and stick to it! Set alarms if you have to.
2) Switching tasks
Doing something repetitive can be so draining for a person with narcolepsy, but there are strategies you can use to help you get things done. Most of these things are based on switching activities so that the brain doesn’t get locked into repetitive (and tiring) patterns.
If you are sitting in a chair for most of the day, try one of these to get your focus back:
- Do some star jumps (getting the blood pumping!)
- Have a quick conversation with someone (talking requires a totally different set of skills)
- Check your Facebook (but don’t get sucked into the hole!)
- Play a quick game on your phone (things that challenge your brain like puzzles can be good)
Obviously I’m not suggesting you spend all day on Facebook, but in limited use it can help to operate a different section of you brain than doing office work does – thereby refocusing the brain onto the present rather than trailing off into sleepy land.
Yes I know you’ve all heard it before: exercise more, exercise more, blablablah. No matter how beneficial you know it is, it can seem like an epic chore that you’ll never accomplish. Who has the time or the energy, right? Well you probably do actually! Ten minutes can be enough to increase your wakefulness naturally.
For those of you having trouble getting started in the morning, try getting up and walking straight out the door for a quick walk around the neighbourhood. Getting out there is the hard part, once you’ve hit the pavement ten minutes will seem like nothing. I will be extremely surprised if this does not help you wake up and get focused for the day.
Moving your body around stimulates production of endorphins, and for me this means a prolonged boost in energy and also motivation. However, if you’re just doing this for the improved alertness, don’t over-do it on the exercise or you may risk tiring yourself out completely!
BONUS: Getting out in nature when you go for a walk can also be a big boost to your system. Even just heading to the local park can be a real breath of fresh air if you’re been shlepping around the house too long.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I don’t like to listen to too much depressing or even down-tempo music, and this is because I need all the help I can get to see things positively and be motivated to keep going. I even have a special motivation playlist (as well as an ass-kicking all girl combo) that keeps me feeling pumped, or in a pinch I just listen to Girl Talk on repeat.
Obviously this isn’t going to help in every situation, but music can make the difference between slouching out of bed and leaping out as part of an imaginary choreographed sequence in the non-existent movie of your life (or maybe that’s just me…) I just put something on using my phone and BAM! I’m suddenly totally awake and ready to go.
5) Goal Setting
This is another one that sounds really lame, but once I got past that thought I found it really helpful! The idea is not just setting goals, but the way in which you do it.
In the past, I have had lots of problems with being the worst kind of perfectionist: the kind that couldn’t get anything done because I knew it wouldn’t be perfect, and therefore it wasn’t worth even trying to do in the first place.
As you can probably see, this is ridiculous logic and gets you absolutely nowhere in life.
In trying to get over this, I have found that setting really small goals to begin with is really helpful. If a task seems too overwhelming, get a piece of paper out and try to think of all the steps that it will take to get done. Then, try to do each bit one at a time without focusing to much on the next step.
Example: when creating this website, it seemed like a massive hurdle at first and I had no idea where to start with it. Eventually I had to sit down with a pen and paper (I often think better this way) and write down what I wanted to end up with, and work backwards from there to figure out the tasks I could start on at that point; such as finishing the text for each section, or confirming a sketch of the design that I was working towards. After that, I had some defined mini-goals to work towards, which made everything so much easier than trying to chip away at a seemingly gargantuan task. This allows you the satisfaction of completing something every now and again, which continues to drive you forward.
Of course this is just a small selection of things you can try, but I hope you’ve found some of them helpful. I know they may seem like pretty basic things, but if there was a magical way to get us all up and motivated we all probably be doing it already!
If you have any tips or tricks that you use to help get yourself motivated, it would be lovely and helpful if you leave a comment below!
Oh and thank you everyone for all the support so far! I have been so happy to receive comments here on the website, as well as *almost* 100 likes on the Facebook page. Makes me so happy to know people are reading and enjoying this stuff 😀