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This Way UP! Motivation Kick-Starters

Can't get motivated?

Try these easy kick starters to get you going backed by neuroscience and psychology.

Recently many Victorian students have again been required to learn remotely and parents are supporting student learning from home.  VCE students are attending school in these challenging times, striving to continue their learning and complete the year well. People may feel disheartened, tired or they may not be in the headspace to put in their best effort.  Whether the learning or teaching is at home or school, here are some strategies for quick boost to help you get back on track.

Motivation is the drive that we can have in response to a purpose or passion. The keys are goals, persistence and commitment. There are some links below to great resources on these topics, but this article is about quick and easy steps you can take to spark your mind and body into readiness for planning your goals and committing to habits. Try all of these things – they work!

1. Game Changer - Stand Like Wonder Woman (2 Min)

Gain confidence in seconds. This hack was taught to Genazzano students by Deakin University’s Dr Josh Newton. Josh says that shifting from a slouch on the couch to a confident stance has immediate benefits for the mind and body. You take a small but effective step to be physically and mentally ready to step forward (not lie back). Psychologist Amy Cuddy talks here about the importance and impact of posture on hormones to increase confidence and decrease stress.

What to do: Stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands on your hips; pull your core inward; push your chest out and shoulders back. Hold your head high and take some deep breaths slowly in and out - filling your lungs with fresh air and centering yourself. Repeat!

2. MOVE! (10 min +) 

This is the number one activity for brain and mental health. Going for a run, a tennis game or a hike is great option. If you are not quite ready for that, start simple and build up. A brief walk with a friend or tackling some weeds is a good start. Try stretching or yoga. You can take a class or start at home with some youtube clips to guide you.

3. Brain Foods (10 min) 

Check your diet and make sure you are giving your brain what it needs. Yes, backed by science – these dopamine inducing foods are designed by nature as a little healthy pick-me-up. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water.

4. Find Nature (5 min +)

This article cites research suggesting a significant boost in health and life satisfaction from spending time in nature. Get outside,  breathe in the fresh air, work in your garden, lie on the grass and look at the sky, sit in the park and enjoy the green, focus your eyes and mind on a leaf or a flower and practice mindfulness, walk through the bush or by the beach. A little time each day builds up quickly. Aim for two hours or more in a week.

5. Re-set (15 min +)

Take some time out to think about and write down what is important to you and how you will realise your dreams. Year 9s recently worked with neuroscientist, Dr Jared Cooney Horvath, to explore the 5 A’s for ‘creating your own future stories’:

  • Aspire (What do you want)
  • Analyse (Best process or strategy to get there)
  • Act (Take those steps - do it)
  • Assess (Reflect and Review)
  • Adapt (Change, grow, learn - and keep moving toward the goal)

Now you are ready for the next step – creating smart goals! See here for some more great resources on motivation and habits and here ( for a great free app to keep you on track with your goals!

Catherine Brandon, Director | Educational Psychologist, Genazzano Institute