As a student the term motivation is present in more and more situations. Motivation is important for the bigger choices in life like choosing which job or professional skill you would like to have in a couple of years. However, motivation also affects our smaller, day-to-day activities, like whether you engage in a student union, maintain a workout regime, or follow a study guide.
Motivation is often presented as something you either have or don't have. As if it’s "built-in" as driven from the inside out. However, we find that even though motivation is a lot about personal wishes, preferences, and personality, the current situation and surroundings might matter equally as much to whether you find meaning and value in the things you do.
Needs and motivation
Straight from birth humans are headed for exploration and development, but the frames that surround you have a lot to say in how this is allowed to be expressed. Most will agree that to be able to study, work out, or generally take part in activities, certain needs have to be covered. For instance, if you are hungry or tired it’s difficult for your body and mind to allow you to prioritize something other than sleeping or eating. Most will agree that these needs have to be covered to have the energy and eagerness to solve the task you are put up against.
In addition to physical needs, humans also have "psychological needs". Our mental health sets certain conditions to be able to feel happiness, interest, as well as excitement for active research and exploring a subject or an activity.
The need to know you’re good
A need that is on the frontline for wishing to start with and continue doing an activity is the need to master or feel like you have the skills required to do the activity. Most people will have trouble finding meaning or excitement in an activity that constantly brings disappointment and failure. As a student, it will be difficult to not develop a reluctance to study if your grades are nowhere near what you wished for. The same can be said for maintaining the motivation to work out, which can definitely feel difficult if you don’t see or feel any progress.
The need to know that you choose for yourself
Deciding for yourself that you want to participate in an activity is also a need. One uses the word autonomy about this need. It’s not the same as demonstrating your own independence by "doing as you want", but that you perceive that you are in control and pick your actions, preferably despite external pressure and demands.
The need for belonging in a community
A sense of belonging is important to feel like your participation in an activity is important. For the activity to offer a sense of community and good relations to other people can in itself be a motivational force, despite not feeling like you’re performing well or feel competent. For instance, knowing that you have good friends that you meet in classes can be important. Having the opportunity to have good, meaningful conversations during breaks and studying, in general, will make it easier to feel motivated in your studies.
People experiencing that the needs we mentioned above are fulfilled (something you usually don’t think about, they just are) have a higher likelihood of feeling a sense of "flow" in their everyday life and the activities they engage in.
With "flow" we mean a sense of comfort that you feel in situations where you are motivated by doing the activity in itself, without the need to validate your participation in other "outer" things like money, status, better health, or other rewards.
"Flow" often occurs in situations where you feel like you are adequately challenged and simultaneously have the ability to handle the tasks you are put up against. This is also known as the "flowzone". Our knowledge about the "flowzone" says that being under-challenged can be just as damaging to your motivation as being over-challenged.
If one feels competent, that they make decisions on their own initiative, feel a sense of belonging with others, and is adequately challenged, they will thrive. One can simultaneously feel a sense of "mental growth".
Similarly, one will be able to experience a strong strain from some of these "pieces" not being in place. If you are constantly dissatisfied with the work you deliver and the results you get. If you find out that you shouldn’t have started your studies "because your friends did". If you experience loneliness, hours in the reading room can feel forced and you may even experience becoming less efficient.
People studying with this as an ingredient in their life can quickly feel that it makes them physically and mentally worn out. Eventually, you can start to feel indifferent to the things you do, and maybe even start feeling anger towards yourself. The anger is usually connected to a feeling of despair for putting yourself in a situation you’re dissatisfied with. Adding extra weight to your burden, in a situation like this, one usually tends to focus on the things you can’t do and therefore feel less successful than you actually are.
Burning out and "motivational deceases" can develop into becoming a full-fledged depressive syndrome, but can in many cases be relieved by taking a break from the seriousness of studying.
Motivational diseases can lead to problems like stress, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and more. You can read about these problems, and how to deal with them, by clicking back to the start.
Ask for and receive help when it’s needed
There are a lot of things you can do to take good care of yourself, but if you feel like there is too much adversity, know that there is help available. Some students are facing harder troubles in life than what we have described above. However, we hope that most students find something useful here. But what if you feel like you need something more?
The aim for your time as a student is as previously stated "to be independent", but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything all by yourself. Being independent also means cooperating with others, and daring to ask for help. Here we have put together a list of other help offers. There are a lot of people who can help you, and SiS Health wants to be there for you as a student.
We are here for you if you need it, and we wish you the best of luck with your studies.