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Dear David: Too Exhausted to be Motivated

Dr. Grant wants to see how well his responses stack up against those of ChatGPT. Read both results, vote for your favorite, and click “see previous responses” to view the results at the end.

A student wrote:

“I lost all my motivation to study and am extremely exhausted. I cannot put myself together and I do anything except things that I actually need to do ASAP. How do I motivate myself again without harming my mental stability?”

. Dr D.A Grant:

I know this feeling very well. In fact, you can assume that I am answering your question as a means of distraction, so that I can put off much more important issues until the deadline arrives. Next, I will go to the gym as another form of distraction, but one that also helps to provide the energy and motivation to deal with the essential work I need to do. I advise you to do the same. Get involved in our sports teams, and physically exhaust yourself in training and being fit. You will then find the mental energy to do the academic work. Physical fitness goes hand in hand with mental health and academic success. However, this is just the start. Going to the gym is difficult because you need a routine to make it happen, and for the first 15 minutes, your head is telling you to give up because it hurts too much. You have to push past these thoughts and keep going, and eventually you feel great. Academic work is just the same. You need a routine, a timetable to follow, when you make yourself sit down and work. The start will always be hard and you will think of all the other things you could be doing instead. This is when you have to push on and force yourself to create something, anything, and then it gets easier. If words fail you, use ChatGPT to create a draft for you, so you don’t start with a blank page. You still have to rewrite everything and find your own references because ChatGPT is really boring and often wrong, but at least it gets you started. Eventually you finish an assignment, and it feels wonderful.


Losing motivation to study and feeling exhausted can be a common experience, especially during stressful times. It’s important to take care of your mental health while finding ways to reignite your motivation. One approach is to set small, achievable goals for yourself. Breaking down your tasks into manageable pieces can make them feel less overwhelming and give you a sense of accomplishment as you complete them. Celebrate your progress along the way, no matter how small it may seem. Another approach is to find ways to make studying more enjoyable or engaging. This could mean finding a study group, listening to music, or changing up your study environment. Experiment with different methods until you find what works best for you. It’s also important to take care of your physical health. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, and exercising regularly. Taking care of your body can improve your mental state and give you the energy you need to focus on your studies. Finally, it’s important to be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion. Recognize that it’s okay to feel unmotivated and exhausted at times, and don’t beat yourself up for it. Practice positive self-talk and remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments. And if you’re struggling to manage your mental health, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional support. Remember that motivation can ebb and flow, but with patience, perseverance, and self-care, you can find your way back to a more motivated and productive mindset.

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