As the physical distancing days continue, and we have all but settled into our new normal, it may start to feel like that initial jolt of adrenaline-induced productivity and positivity is starting to wane. Remember when everyone was making homemade bread, and learning how to grow their own food? Plus, the countless DYI home projects that many of us embarked on? Well, those days are now behind us and some people are reporting a lack of productivity and feelings of complacency. Not to worry, we have a team of pros who are used to inspiring their clients to get back on track and tackle even the loftiest of goals. Sherry Perez, Manager of Program Development for the YMCA of Greater Toronto, has tips for staying motivated and beating boredom, stress, and fear. Here are her inspiring words of wisdom.

If you’ve taken a class with me on Facebook live lately, you know I’m a pretty positive, motivated person! It comes with the territory: a big part of my job as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer is to help people push themselves, achieve their goals, and set their sights even higher next time.

Or at least, that was a big part of my job before a pandemic shut the world down and turned our collective future into a big question mark.

*Gulp.*

We all know we’re in the midst of a crisis, and we’re all coping with it differently. I love seeing some of my friends and family thrive from the comfort of their home offices, overjoyed they’re now spending an extra hour or two a day playing with their kids instead of sitting in rush hour traffic.

But if you’re reading this, you’re probably not feeling ultra-productive and you need some inspiration. If you are feeling unmotivated (and maybe even a little guilty about it), the last thing you need right now is to read a long list of things you “should” be doing. So instead, I thought I’d share some of the things I’m doing right now to try to cope with my stress, boost my mood, and brighten my days a little. I hope some of these will work for you too!

1. Reimagining my personal goals so they’re super-small and easy.

The last thing we need right now is the disappointment of “failure.” Instead of pledging to run a marathon, my goals these days are more like, “I’m going to walk around the block today.” Setting these small goals I know I can tackle means I get to enjoy the positive feeling of achievement over and over. It also makes me hungry for more: it feels good to be able to say “I did it!” and that good feeling gets me excited to set another little goal for myself.

2. Sleeping. A lot.

No, you do not lack discipline if all of this ends and you haven’t learned a new skill, finished a novel, or done whatever else we may be told to accomplish in the middle of a pandemic. In my mind, I would count it as a resounding success if some of us caught up on even a little sleep while we’re spending so much time at home.

3. Moving every morning.

No, I will not be doing 6:00 am bootcamp daily! All I mean is that I’m going to do my best to be vertical for at least a few minutes at the start of every day. For me, moving clears my mind gives me a little energy boost, and helps me feel good about the day ahead. You can try one of The Bright Spot’s live group fitness classes, or watch a pre-recorded one on our Youtube channel.

4. Remembering to nourish my body.
There’s something calming and reassuring about planning what you’re going to eat, and when. Prepping at least some of my meals and snacks the night before makes my day feel so much less overwhelming; it’s one less thing I have to think about while I’m in the middle of trying to work and simultaneously supervise my kids’ online learning.

5. Seizing my good days to tackle new adventures.

Some days, you will feel motivated and productive! I’m planning to put them to good use by trying something new I’ve always been interested in but never had time to explore. Something fun I keep telling people to try right now is my Arriba class: this is your chance to really let loose and dance like no one’s watching…because they’re actually not 😉

6. Being extra kind and forgiving to myself.

Most importantly, not every day is going to be a good day. When you’re feeling off and nothing’s helping to shake that funk, you’ve got to dig down deep and find the strength to do the toughest thing on this list: be okay with it. Personally, I like to brew a cup of hot tea, grab a seat in the sun, and remind myself that it’s perfectly acceptable not to be motivated today — that I am allowed to feel down, or stressed, or scared, or just plain off when there is a literal crisis unfolding around me. Simply telling yourself that your feelings are normal, and acknowledging that you are doing your very best, can really help you feel a little more calm and in control.

As the Manager of Program Development for the YMCA of Greater Toronto, Sherry builds and advances our group fitness programs and coaches our staff and volunteer instructors to deliver the very best classes they can. She also works with YMCAs across Canada to bring our latest and greatest group fitness classes to more people in more communities. Sherry has been a personal trainer and group fitness instructor for over 20 years, has a diploma in Fitness & Lifestyle Management from George Brown College and an honours degree in Business, and is a YMCA Canada Training Educator. She is the proud mother of two children who occasionally make guest appearances in the live classes she’s teaching for free right now on our Facebook channel!