Keeping your head above (COVID-19) water

What day is it ? Is it really Monday ? Are we in April or May? What productive thing have I done with myself this week?

If you’re like me, then these are some of the questions that you wake up asking yourself. It feels as if the days just blend into each other, one ending and the next beginning without any real indication, and through it all, I still feel like I am just drifting along. Just trying to find myself and keep my head above water. I won’t lie, some days I feel like I am drowning. Like I am in this sea of COVID-19, it’s all around me – every news channel, every social media outlet, and somehow, part of EVERY conversation I have. It’s hard to feel like there is anything more to my days than COVID-19, and as such, I am finding it hard to “keep the end in mind.”

When lockdown first started I was determined to keep afloat. Determined not to let this pandemic take my sanity away. So, I resorted to waking up at the same time as normal, and getting dressed as if I was leaving my apartment and going to work. I would try as best as possible to work my “normal” working hours. I would even reserve Saturday for cleaning as I had done in my life BLD (before lockdown) (How bizarre to think of life in different eras!).

I’m the kind of person that needs to have a routine and some structure to remain sane. My compulsive need to remain in control was really been tested when I could no longer properly plan for the future because I had no idea what this future would be like. Slowly but surely I started to lose steam. I stopped bothering about routine, stopped bothering about looking presentable and brushing my hair (please don’t judge me!). With each passing day I felt my motivation slipping away little by little.

At some point I was beating myself up about this. Feeling like I was failing myself for not having the same energy six weeks into lockdown as I had at the beginning. But something clicked one day and I realised that it was okay. It’s okay to have low days. It’s okay to feel like I hadn’t done anything productive for the day (or week). It was okay to just curl up and read a book that had no academic benefit and it was definitely okay to binge-watch a random Netflix show!!

“We should listen to our bodies and be gentle and kind with ourselves”

COVID-19 is something we could never have been prepared for. No one knows how to properly deal with everything. This pandemic has left so many of us scared , anxious, frustrated and putting additional stress on ourselves to be productive. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we should all just give up and turn into couch potatoes, but I am saying that we should listen to our bodies and be gentle and kind with ourselves before anything else. Many of us may have caring responsibilities, and it is important to remember that we can’t pour from an empty cup , so give yourself the time and rest that you need.

I wish I had all the answers in how to make it through these difficult times, unfortunately I don’t, but I can only share with you some of the ways that I have been trying to cope with my limited motivation levels.

  • Try to maintain some kind of routine – I work during the week and keep weekends as my time to spend with family, watching movies and just relaxing.
  • If you can’t work a full day, then try to work for solid uninterrupted stretches, taking regular breaks .
  • I try to spend some time outside, just enjoying the sunshine.
  • As an avid traveller, I have tried to catch up on my travel journal. This has served as a kind of gratitude journal, reminding me of all the amazing memories I have from my travels. It may be helpful to keep a gratitude journal, just to remind yourself of all the positives in your life when things seem bleak.
  • Exercise – I’m not a gym rat, and I really have struggled to keep committed to this, but I try to do at least a few minutes of exercise at least 3 times a week.
  • Meditation – I also suffer from an overactive mind that will focus on any random thing whenever I try to meditate. However, I have found that this has been a way to find peace when the day seems to run away from me.

I really hope that the days ahead would be a bit more peaceful, and that in some way, we would all begin to find peace.

I will leave you with a few quotes to try to boost your motivation each day . Stay safe … and remember, it’s okay to take a break!


    1. “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”

    2. “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

    3. “Where there is a will, there is a way. If there is a chance in a million that you can do something, anything, to keep what you want from ending, do it. Pry the door open or, if need be, wedge your foot in that door and keep it open.”

    4. “Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.”

    5. “Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark set before you.”

    6. “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

    7. “Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.”

    8. “Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.”

    9. “There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, there are no limits.”

    10. “Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.”

    11. “We aim above the mark to hit the mark.”

    12. “One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.”

    13. “Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.”

    14. “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”


Side note …

Hey !  My name is Orielia Egambaram. I’m doing my PhD in Chemistry and my work is focused on the development of energy storage systems. I’m currently in Swaziland (Southern Africa) with my family.  I am the communications manager for WReN. I’m so excited to be part of a network of amazing women. Keep safe . Love & light