Overwhelmed and Unmotivated

  • November 01, 2021

Dear Advy,

I know I'm not alone in this, but I have gained almost 20 pounds since COVID started and really don't feel great. Long hours at my desk, close proximity to my fridge, and not feeling up to preparing proper meals or exercising has really taken its toll. As the pandemic seems to drone on, I’m looking for any practical suggestions for how to get this exhausted (physically, mentally, spiritually...) lawyer back on track? 

Overwhelmed and Unmotivated

Dear Overwhelmed and Unmotivated,

The pandemic period has shaken us all on several fronts: the stress, the uncertainty, and above all the change in our daily routine. Our bodies enjoy routine and its habits so, it is normal that with this change of schedule and circumstances, your body may feel unbalanced.

Do not be too hard or demanding on yourself: above all, your body allows you to enjoy every day and to marvel at the little things in life.

To help you regain your motivation and establish a new routine adapted to these new realities, here are some concrete examples that may help you:

  1. Keep a jug of cold water handy and resolve to drink it all by the end of your workday. Drinking water helps to better control the signals of hunger and satiety (it eliminates "false" hunger pangs, commonly referred to as sensitive or emotional hunger pangs) and helps improve your concentration;
  2. Do your grocery shopping on a predetermined day in the week, and most importantly, don't go grocery shopping on an empty stomach! This will help you make more informed choices, and not be guided by the ever-present temptations in your grocery store;
  3. When you get back from grocery shopping, prepare a few different vegetables in larger quantities and put them in a container in the refrigerator: you'll have raw vegetables on hand when you're hungry. Why not serve them with a 0 to 2% fat Greek yogurt dip, adding a sachet of dehydrated onion soup, chili sauce or curry powder? The protein in it will help stave off feelings of hunger until your next meal.
  4. Pre-portion your dinners the night before, as if you were going to the office. This will help you avoid consuming foods that you would not have eaten if it were not for the fact that you are working from home;
  5. Write down the meals you will cook or eat during the week on a chart. One trick is to make larger portions of what you cook to eat at other meals of the week, or to freeze them for later;
  6. Get up at least 5 minutes every hour for light stretching and walking: this will activate you and allow you to be more concentrated when you return to your screen;
  7. When travelling, get off a couple bus stops before your destination to walk, park at the back of the parking lot to increase the walking distance, or take the stairs instead of the escalators, etc.

Above all, be indulgent with your body. Set realistic, accessible and measureable goals. Indeed, small incremental changes will allow you to gradually integrate them into your current routine.

Take good care of yourself.