Do It For Your Future Self

February 20, 2024
written by:Claire Brandon, M.D.

What can you do now for your future self? Is it just self-care?

In a time of such uncertainty, how do you maintain motivation to keep looking forward? Right now, if you’re working from home, it can feel like you’re busier than ever, or it can feel incredibly boring and a waste of time. Either way, it can feel increasingly difficult to stick with a routine. Moreover, in a crisis, we don’t see a point to a routine.

I’ve heard over and over, what’s the point of looking to the future, there’s nothing to look forward to because who knows how long this will last? Of course that is true, the timeline of this virus is uncertain, as Dr. Fauci says, “the virus makes the timeline”, however, can you reframe your view of this crisis in a way to help where you can and still plan for your future and hurdles you’ll have to get over once you’re back to a more regular routine? 

Ways to think about your future haven’t changed so drastically, but if finding motivation might get in the way. Working from home might feel at first like a great break. You get to sit on your couch, no commute, and watching TV on your breaks.

But these same things that made it feel nice at first, might be in your way from keeping your mental energy focused during work time, and then prevent you from being effective in your downtime.

Things To Do For Your Future Self

Here are some tips to think about as you go along with your social isolation and work-from-home endeavors:

Maintain your sleep schedule. 

While it could feel easier to be on a holiday or vacation sleep schedule (staying up later, waking up later), this can actually shift your brain into a less productive mode. You should maintain your needed hours of sleep, scientists say around 7-8 hours of sleep is needed for an average adult to have added immune system benefits. But that might require you to shift the cycle you’re already in. Even if you’re tired in the morning, wake up earlier, the same as you would for your usual work schedule. This will help you feel tired on time at night and shift your sleep. 

Meal Prep. 

Maintaining a healthy diet and eating healthy or keeping on target to eat healthy can boost your immune system and helps to tackle anxiety and depression that right now in the face of a pandemic is soaring. Meal prepping can help to decrease stress eating by taking out the decision part of our brain that says “eat snacks” that release dopamine like high carb and high sugar, rather than maintaining fiber, protein, and good fats.

Reading > Netflix.

Reading a book is helpful for the economy (buying the physical book can help writers during this difficult time), it’s a great break for your eyes from blue light of your phone, TV, and computer screens, and it also stimulates your thinking. When you read, you must create the images in your mind, it uses a different part of the brain. It might stimulate your motivation and ideas to work towards your goals. 

Identify your distractors and plan to overcome. 

Do you find yourself scrolling through Instagram or playing games on your phone more hours in the day than you would have anticipated? Sometimes our brains are trying to give us some distance from stress, so when you notice this, try to switch to doing something that might burn off some anxious energy, like taking a walk, crunches or pushups. You might also try to reset by drinking ice cold water or splashing cold water on your face. This can activate your nervous system to calm down and allow you to get refocused. 

Keep your goals close at hand.

Just because where we work and what we do day to day might look different, doesn’t mean you have to lose track of your goals. Try creating and keeping a dream board or simply using post-it notes in your work space. Anything to help you remember what your goals are and stay aware of what the bigger picture you’re working towards looks like at all times. 

**Please note this is not to be taken as medical advice. If you need medical care reach out to your provider or utilize emergency services. 

Claire Brandon, M.D.

Dr. Brandon is a dual board-certified psychiatrist in both adult psychiatry and consultation-liaison psychiatry (treatment of psychiatric illness in medically ill adults). She completed her residency and fellowship training at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and did a second fellowship in public psychiatry at New York University in New York City

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