The COVID Slump: Finding Motivation After Having COVID-19

It's almost been a year since COVID-19 made its appearance and grounded the entire world — almost making it difficult for some people to find motivation. My family and I managed to stay safe from the virus until late January 2021, when my mom was hospitalized due to COVID and I was hospitalized not even a week later. I was in the hospital with my mom fighting as hard as I possibly could to breathe, yet I couldn’t help but worry about what this would do to my grades in my final year at UCF.

I was scared that being in the hospital would cause me to fall behind in my five classes and, honestly, it did. At the time of writing this article, I’m still behind on many assignments and I had to drop a course — thank goodness I didn’t really need it — due to being in the hospital for a week and then spending two weeks trying to recover my lungs at home. It was a tough time for me because I was so stressed about school while others urged me to just focus on getting better. I just couldn’t help the stress that continued to manifest inside of me.

Photo by Edwin Hooper from Unsplash

One would think that this stress would help motivate me to tackle all 25 assignments that were missing, but COVID had the opposite effect. I lost every ounce of motivation to do anything. I couldn’t open my laptop to do schoolwork, watch a movie or show, scroll through social media or even listen to music. I barely looked at my phone for two weeks because my body and mind just felt unmotivated to talk to people or post anything. I cried and screamed over how useless I felt during this time because I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom without finding it hard to catch my breath — how was I supposed to do schoolwork?

It wasn’t until the end of the third week when I was finally better while scrolling through Instagram that I suddenly had the motivation. It’s weird that the simplest things are what motivates people sometimes.

I opened my laptop and began writing down all of my assignments that I had missed — which included three weeks' worth of assignments. I also reached out to my Japanese 1 professor and realized that I couldn’t just cram three weeks of a new language in one week with all of my core classes asking for my attention so I did the hardest thing for myself. I dropped a class that I had always dreamed about taking and felt this large weight fall off of my shoulders in relief as the missed assignments dropped from 25 to 15.

I knew I made the right decision no matter how hard it was to make.

I’ll be honest: I was mentally and physically tired. I didn’t know how I was supposed to catch up on these assignments even though my main motivation to do them was to graduate in May. Instagram had only gotten me one foot in the door of motivation and then I felt as though I had lost it because I couldn’t think of my next step. I remember staring at my laptop and the WebCourses dashboard for hours on end without knowing how to start the process. It felt hopeless.

And then I found it.

girl, breathe! Photo by TaTiana Tramble / Canva

It took almost four weeks but I finally found the motivation I was searching for, and that happened to be my own mother. She almost died in the hospital and yet here she was at home back to being a mother and trying her best to do her own online classes. I realized that if my mom could do this without complaining, then I could too. This sudden motivation made me sit down in front of my laptop and start my process of organization all over again — printing out a list of my assignments and taping them on a wall next to my desk.

I’m still working through my assignments as I'm finally back to work, but this new method has really helped me tackle a bunch of late assignments. I’ll be honest though, I probably wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without the support of my professors — who graciously gave me extensions on all of my assignments without penalizing my grades. I truly appreciate the support of my professors and my mother for helping me get through this slump that was starting to really affect my mental health in a terrible way.

If you’re feeling like you’re losing motivation, I think the best way to ‘find’ it sometimes is to not look for it at all. The best motivation — like my mother — will almost always find you where you least expect it, even if it’s just a heart-shaped cookie. Or, for the sake of this article, the bouquet of yellow roses and sunflowers my mom had gifted me for Valentine’s Day. If you had COVID and felt similar to how I felt, I applaud you for finding that motivation to fight for your life and keep moving forward despite the difficulties.

A bouquet of yellow roses with a single sunflower and a plaque. Original photo by TaTiana Tramble