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‘Motivation’ and ‘depressed’ in the same sentence? That’s got to be a dichotomy right? How do you find motivation when you’re depressed?
Once upon a time, I found it hard to motivate myself. I relied on hearing “well-done” from others, and I did hear this a lot of the time. Sometimes when I didn’t hear it, I felt invisible.
Eventually, I got to a point in my life when I told myself “enough is enough!” I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, but I knew I couldn’t continue with my life the way it was. I knew that in order for me to see positive changes, I needed to learn to motivate myself, for myself.
People experience depression for a variety of reason, and the severity of symptoms can vary from person to person.
Symptoms of depression include:
- low motivation to participate in activities that you normally find pleasurable
- poor self-image
- feelings of low self-worth
- insomnia or increased need for sleep
- lack of energy and fatigue
- lack of appetite
- comfort eating
- restlessness and irritability
- feeling overwhelmed
- suicidal thoughts
If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, you should seek help right away. Contact your doctor or call emergency services wherever you are.
Ways to find motivation when you’re depressed
Disclaimer: This information is intended for educational and reference purposes only. Use of this information is entirely at your own risk. Should you have any health concerns, please consult your Doctor or another relevant professional. If you are in need of professional help I use and recommend Online-Therapy.com (affiliate link). They will match you with a therapist that you can message or live chat for an affordable monthly price.
Countdown: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Mel Robbins created The 5 Second Rule. The idea behind it is that one must act within five seconds on an idea, or the brain will lose the enthusiasm and the thing won’t get done.
Like Mel used to do, I would set my alarm for an early start in the morning but only out of necessity. I used to say I was not a morning person. Hmph! Wasn’t I heck?!
Anyway, I would snooze my alarm until I had very little time to get ready for work in the morning, then I would run around like a headless chicken before heading out of the door. No meditation, no breakfast, no nothing!
However, I noticed that when I made that mental decision to propel myself out of bed and acted on it quickly, my feeling of tiredness would disappear almost immediately and I could have a less frantic start to my day.
Try it, it may work for you.
Live in the present
Does it seem sometimes like there’s something drawing your mind to the past, or making you anticipate the future?
Regretting the past or worrying about the future can keep you in a state of depression or filled with anxiety, which can leave you feeling perpetually worn out and unmotivated.
A great antidote for this is to live in the present moment. Take each day as it comes; each minute and even each second.
The truth is that all we have is now. We cannot change the past, nor can we guarantee the future. All we truly have is this present moment.
So, even though it is wise to plan your day, enjoy every moment of you accomplishing your activities. Think about the future in a way that is not filled with anxiety, but rather in terms of preparing for it.
It may sound easier said than done, but with time this gets easier.
Plan your day
Having a routine can add structure to your day and keep you motivated. Without a daily routine, it can be tempting to remain in bed or on the couch for hours, and not be motivated to do much else.
Having a plan for tasks I need to accomplish during the day has helped me maintain my focus. Planning your day may also do the same for you.
Planning your day will help reduce your mental clutter and ensure that you remain as free from being overwhelmed as possible.
Even if you don’t accomplish all your tasks, having a plan would allow you to prioritise and know which tasks to defer to another day or time.
Little and often
If you’re feeling depressed or overwhelmed and you can only complete one or two tasks, then do so.
Taking on many tasks all at once may lead to procrastination which is not good for your productivity and achieving your goals, and may keep you de-motivated and feeling stuck.
There’s nothing stopping you from increasing your workload eventually, as long as it is sustainable and you don’t feel overwhelmed. Just start as small as you need to, then work your way up from there.
Visualise your wins
Keep your eye on the prize! This will keep you motivated to keep on working towards it.
If it’s good enough for elite athletes, then it’s good enough for you and me!
Top athletes visualise their performance and their wins way ahead of time. This trains their subconscious mind for success.
Imagination is more important than knowledgeAlbert Einstein
Your knowledge is limited, but your imagination is endless! You may know that you feel a certain way, but what would happen if you imagine yourself getting out of bed and having a joyful day, or (insert your imagination here).
Imagine, or visualise, your wins to motivate yourself to keep on going when you’re depressed.
Are you scared? Do it anyway!
No one ever knows the definite outcome of what they plan. You may be fearful of what the outcome could be. What if this, or what if that? Who cares?!
Fear can be a positive catalyst for change. When fear is mixed with excitement, it can be a positive propellant for motivating us to work towards our goals.
Rather than allow fear to stop you from making changes, derive joy in knowing that your desired outcome could be a reality if you just do it!
Get an accountability partner
An accountability partner will help keep you… well, accountable.
Accountability partners are so important to your well-being. They are the one person you can be completely real with and share your goals, struggles and victories. You can be as open as you would like to be with an accountability partner.
It is important that you choose an accountability partner who is positive and non-judgemental. Sharing your challenges with a trustworthy person could motivate you to stay on track and accomplish your goals.
One study showed that participants had a 65% chance of completing a goal if they told their accountability partner about it. Those chances of success rose to a staggering 95% if they met up with their accountability partner in person.
A problem shared is a problem halved.
Getting inspiration from people you look up to can help you become a better version of yourself. You will learn tips from them that will help make living your life easier.
Learning from others, can motivate, inspire, and empower you to bring out the best qualities in you that you never knew existed.
When learning from other people, take what fits your current personality, rather than trying to overhaul yourself into becoming someone else.
Remember, you are not in competition with anyone but yourself.
The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to beRalph Waldo Emerson
Surround yourself with positive people
You might find it difficult to be around anyone when you feel depressed, however, in order to motivate yourself, having positive people around you will do wonders for your motivation.
Surrounding yourself with positive people can make or break your mood. You must have heard I’m sure, that you are like the five closest people you surround yourself with.
Think about it… if you are trying to boost your mood, will you surround yourself with people who see the worst in many things or those who see some positives despite things they see around them?
Surround yourself with positive people who emanate positive energy. Their energy will rub off on you and help motivate you when depressed.
Recite positive affirmations
An affirmation is an assertion that something exists or is true. It may initially feel awkward saying something that is not your present reality, trust me, I get it, but repetitively saying positive words or quotes eventually make them a reality.
Research shows that using daily affirmations enable positive change to come about in one’s life. Affirmations strengthen, empower, and reassure us that our wishes would eventually come true.
Reciting daily affirmations requires patience though because there’s no certainty about when affirmations will eventually come to fruition.
Repeating positive words release power into the universe so that what you say will begin to happen. Reciting positive words and phrases work on the mind, and eventually, they become reality.
This is the same with negative or idle words, so you need to be careful about what you say.
If you need to, make your affirmations visible to remind you to recite them. Write them as notes in your phone or write them on post-it notes and stick them on your wall, or set a recurring alarm to remind to recite them if you need to.
Lack of motivation is a symptom of depression but can be caused by other factors. Remember, if you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, you should seek help right away.
Consistency is key in all of this. Little drops of water make a mighty ocean. As you make little changes and take one day at a time, you are bound to look back one day and realise that you would have come a long way.
Your persistence will help feed your growing motivation, and you will find that over time it becomes easier to get up and do the things that bring you joy.
How do you find motivation when you’re depressed? Do you have any practises that you can share?
- Coping mechanisms for anxiety
- 10 of the best podcasts for your mental health
- Take care of yourself when no one else will
Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share with a friend, and stay uplifted.
P.S. Check out my free e-book below to help you overcome worry and anxiety and live a more joyful and peaceful life.