Whether Youre Dealing With Seasonal Affective Disorder Major Depressive Disorder Postpartum Depression Or Bipolar Depression It Can Be Hard To Motivate Yourself To Work Out
Yetexercise is one of the best things you can do to support your health and that includes your mental health too! But just knowing that exercise is good for you isnt always enough to get the sneakers on, especially if youre unmotivated. The truth is that no one is always excited about exercise 100% of the time and thats okaybut there are steps you can take if you find it hard to complete everyday tasks.
Depression can grow to be an all-encompassing condition that makes even daily tasks difficult. Depression can lead to indecision, which makes it hard to decide when to exercise or what type of exercise you want to try. Monica Clark, LPA, shares:
Many people with depression will struggle to make . For more complex decisions a person with depression may feel paralyzed by an inability to decide. Difficulty making decisions may be related to either internal or external fears.
If you or a loved one are battling depressionor even suspect you might be our compassionate team here at Next Step 2 Mental Health encourages you to reach out for help. Professional mental healthcare providers can help you learn strategies to make a positive difference in your life, despite the all-consuming nature of depression.
In the meantime, keep reading to explore six strategies to boost your motivation.
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About the Author: Now working as an editor in chief, Nina Collins is a fitness nut addicted to coffee. Trying out a digital nomad kind of life while exploring the world one step at the time.
Breathing in books and museums while exploring the world.
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Get Out Of Bed And Out Of Pajamas
The simple act of getting up is a good first victory of the day. Leave a few sticky notes with positive affirmations where you can see them, such as: Yes, you can do it, Every long journey starts with one step, or Never give up! Your brain digests whatever thoughts you create, so feed it positive ones.
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Accept Your Feelings And Dont Push Them Away
Many people who live with depression try to push their feelings away, hoping they will eventually disappear. However, its essential to accept your feelings and understand why youre feeling them.
The more you try to fight, push away, or bury those unpleasant feelings, the worse you will feel in the long term. Not to mention, the longer you try to make those bad sensations go away, the more guilty and ashamed you will feel for having them in the first place. Because youre forcing yourself to deal with these emotions for longer, it starts to take a toll on your mental and emotional health, as well.
Instead, allow yourself to be aware of the emotions you are currently experiencing. Feel them, accept them, and have faith they will pass quickly. If you feel like you need a good cry, let it out. If you need to get away and recharge your batteries, go ahead and do it! Because those emotions will fade away. Accepting your feelings can be one of the most challenging ways to deal with depression in the short term.
Common Reasons For Depression And Frustration
Scan this list with an open mind and see which ones resonate with you. Often there are multiple factors that trigger our emotional states.
- Repressed rage: When we are de-pressed, we are pushing down other emotions and feelings. The most common emotion that we push out of our awareness is anger and rage.
- Unacknowledged envy: For many of us, envy silently eats away at our motivation each day. When were not conscious of our envy, it can quickly lead to depression.
- Unmet basic needs: Abraham Maslow found that we all have basic human needs for safety, belonging, and self-esteem. When we dont meet these needs sufficiently, we become neurotic. Depression and anxiety are common forms of neurosis.
- Life circumstances: If youre going through a divorce or the loss of a loved one, depression and sadness is a common experience.
- Something doesnt go your way: You want something to happena promotion, a date, etc.but it doesnt happen. These circumstances often trigger frustration and can lead to depression.
- Repressed desires: When we dont get what we want, we get frustrated. When we dont even acknowledge what we want, we get depressed. Sometimes these desires are reasonable other times, they are tyrannical.
- Living out of alignment: Perhaps youve made choices that defy who you are. Or, youre behaving in ways that go against your personal core values. Making poor decisions and living out of accord with our values, is a sure path to depression and discontent.
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Pair A Dreaded Task With Something You Enjoy
Your emotions play a major role in your motivation level. If youre sad, bored, lonely, or anxious, your desire to tackle a tough challenge or complete a tedious task will suffer.
Boost your mood by adding a little fun to something youre not motivated to do. Youll feel happier and you might even look forward to doing the task when its regularly paired with something fun.
Here are some examples:
- Listen to music while you run.
- Light a scented candle while youre working on your computer.
- Rent a luxury vehicle when you travel for business.
- Invite a friend to run errands with you.
- Turn on your favorite show while youre folding laundry.
Just make sure that your fun doesnt impair your performance. For example, watching TV while writing a paper might distract you and slow you down even more. Or talking to a friend while youre cleaning the house might be so distracting that you cant pay attention to what youre doing.
What Is Samhsa’s National Helpline
SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.
Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.
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Strategies For Boosting Motivation When Youre Depressed
Anyone with depression can tell you how hard productivity is when youre fighting this debilitating mental illness. Having no motivation to do anything is one of depressions many honorable qualities. In order to do anything, you have to fight really and I mean really hard to be productive. Some days might come harder than others, and thats totally okay. Take every day as it comes and try your hardest to focus on the here and now. Fortunately, there are mental techniques and strategies you can employ to gradually regain the motivation needed to live a full life.
Dont Listen To Your Brain
Your brain is evaluating whats going on around you and giving information about its conclusions. The problem is that, even though your thoughts seem logical and accurate, the thoughts your brain creates are as much a product of external adversity as your behaviors are. In other words, the things that have happened to you that have led to depressed feelings are directly influencing your negative thoughts of, Ill never amount to anything, I clearly cant do this, etc. This means that these thoughts arent honest, true, or rational. The best way to change these thoughts is to dismiss these thoughts and change your situation.
Again, you change your situation by building momentum in your chosen direction. As we change the behaviors that are associated with feeling depressed, our thoughts come along for the ride and become more positive, accurate, and rational. As we try out that heart-healthy recipe, there’s less room for your brain to say “I’ll never be healthy” and more room for positive, rational, thoughts. The key is to take your time, make small changes, and celebrate your successes, no matter how small.
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Make A List Of Things You Want To Do Or Accomplish
There are a few things you can do when youre feeling down that can actually help turn your mood around.
One is making a list of things you want to accomplish in life or simply wish you had time for.
Studies have shown thatmaking goals list and setting out clear, specific intentions actually increases motivationit gives us something we can strive for, rather than get lost in self-loathing or sadness.
Its easier said than done, but its important to try if you dont feel like doing anything else.
Make sure you keep your list updated as well, so it reflects what you really want right now.
Causes Of Having No Motivation
Sometimes, no motivation can be the problem. At other times, its merely the symptom of a bigger problem.
For example, if youre a perfectionist, your lack of motivation may stem from the fear that you wont complete a task flawlessly. Until you address this need to be perfect, your motivation isnt likely to increase.
At other times, your lack of motivation may cause you to procrastinate. And the more you procrastinate, the less motivated you feel. In this case, improving your motivation to get work done can help you feel better and perform better.
So its important to take a few minutes to consider why you might have trouble motivating yourself. Here are some common reasons for a lack of motivation:
These are just a few common reasons why people sometimes lack motivation. You might find that your lack of motivation stems from other issues, like the fear of what people think or a desire to please everyone. So carefully consider the underlying thoughts and feelings that are affecting your drive.
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Remember Your Life Before Depression
Before the depressive symptoms set in, what did you enjoy doing? Write these items down as they come to mind. Then rank them in terms of what you can accomplish, from most to least difficult. Until you have a higher energy level and more motivation, its best to start with those you can easily complete. Then think about what steps you can take to get back into a routine that includes these everyday tasks or activities.
Therapist Erika Martinez implemented this strategy successfully by helping one of her clients get back into volunteering. During one of his psychological therapy sessions, he discussed how he used to enjoy volunteering at a homeless shelter. His next step was calling the homeless shelter, setting a start date for the volunteering, then showing up. The momentum and motivation built from there.
In a similar vein, think about what motivated you before the depression. What inspired you? It could be anything from childhood to the present. Try to revisit those sources of motivation and get in touch with parts of yourself that might feel distant.
Depression Can Sap Motivation To Go To The Gym
Unfortunately, depressions main characteristicsthe stomachaches or headaches, sleep problems, lack of motivation, feelings of hopelessness and lack of energyall make it difficult for someone with this mental illness to lace up their sneakers and go for a morning jog. At times, living with depression may mean that simply going through the daily motions of what has to be done takes every ounce of energy and motivation. Knowing that exercise can have life-changing benefits is one thing, but putting that into practice is something else entirely. For many living with depression, sticking to an exercise regimen feels out of reach.
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Record Your Triumphant Moments
Even simple things can feel like they are impossible when someone is depressed and conjuring up motivation can be really, really difficult, Serin says. So treat exercising like an experiment and you can potentially use the results to fuel you, since your brain might be predicting that exercising will suck. Approach it with curiosity, Forand says. Ive asked people to write out their predictionswhich are usually negativeand then go try it for a little while and see how accurate their predictions were. Often times, the exercise is pretty self-reinforcing and you feel better afterwards. Serin adds that its hard to remember the positive when depression strikes, so its good to keep a reference to remind you that after exercise your mood really did improve temporarily.
Why Is Motivation Trash
I know we all think motivation is what drives action, but in many cases its the other way aroundactions create motivation.
Have you ever felt like you didnt want to go to the gym, but then once you put on your gym shoes and walked out the door you felt super motivated and ready to go? Thats an example of motivation coming after the action.
Motivation should never be the sole force driving your actions because it is a temporary emotion. Just like you cant feel sad or angry all the time, you cant feel motivated all the time.
Motivation was not going to save me from my cycle of binging and self-sabotage. My problem was I knew exactly what I needed to do , but I didnt know how or why I wanted to do it.
I needed to connect to the intention, or the why, behind my goals before I could determine how to follow through on them. Its not what you do its why you do it that will ultimately drive you to succeed.
I also needed something that required very little willpower or motivation what I needed was a habit.
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Avoid Feeding Your Depression
Feeding depression creates a snowball effect: For example, if you throw a few crumbs out on your balcony or sidewalk, a few pigeons will show up. If you keep throwing out crumbs, by the end of the week a multitude of pigeons will have flocked to the area. Similarly, depression thrives on doubts, fears, and negative thoughts which feeds more depression. Learn to identify the negative thoughts and worries that are fueling your depression so you can replace them with positive, more realistic thoughts.
Accept That Youll Have Some Bad Days
Finally, its important to accept that youll have both good and bad days while you recover from depression, especially if you have persistent or severe depression.
Motivation can come and go, especially when youre depressed. If youre feeling overwhelmed by your daily life and dont think you can stick to your normal cleaning routine, dont feel like its a bad thing to put your feet up and take some time off.
This could mean letting your kitchen, bathroom or bedroom get a little messy over the course of the day while you focus on personal self-care, or just skipping your daily cleaning routine for a day so that you can spend time on other things.
Youre human, and no human is perfect. If you dont feel like its the right day for cleaning, take some time off to rest and relax, then set aside a few extra minutes the next day to catch up on the things you missed.
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Set Realistic Goals For Yourself
Act As If You Feel Motivated
You may be able to trick yourself into feeling motivated by changing your behavior. Act as if you felt motivated, and your actions may change your emotions.
For example, rather than sit on the couch in your pajamas all day waiting for motivation to strike, get dressed and get moving. You might find that taking action will increase your motivation, which makes it easier to keep going.
So ask yourself, What would I be doing right now if I felt motivated? Consider what youd be wearing, how youd be thinking, and what actions youd be taking. Then, do these things, and see if your motivation level increases.
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Envision The Way Youll Feel After The Task
Suppose you focus on the effort involved in getting in the shower, going for a stroll, cooking dinner, or hanging out with a buddy. In that case, any task is likely to appear like a very daunting activity when you live with depression.
Depressed people have poor self-efficacy, which implies they have less faith in their capacity to complete things. As a result, individuals become overwhelmed and avoid completing such duties. Reduce your expectations for yourself throughout the task and focus on how you may feel afterward rather than how you might feel during.
Its also a good idea to try and act as if you feel motivated.
Instead of waiting for inspiration to strike, get dressed and get moving. Go to the gym or just go for a walk around your neighborhood. You may discover that taking action boosts your motivation, making it more straightforward to keep going.