- 10 Things People with Depression Need to Do Every Day
- 9 Strategies for Boosting Motivation When You’re Depressed
- How to Accomplish Tasks When Depressed: Motivation’s Mystery
- Low motivation can drag you down even between your depressive episodes. Try these simple strategies to help you get the ball rolling, bit by bit.
- You Thought You Couldn’t Be Productive When Feeling Depressed, Just Wait Till You Read This
- 1. Begin Your Day with Meditation
- 2. Be Grateful for What You Have
- 3. Smile
- 4. Start Your Day with a Healthy Breakfast
- 5. Exercise Daily
- 6. Manage Your Time as You Manage Your Finance
- 7. Set Daily Goals with Intentions
- 8. Seek Inspiration
- 9. Save Steadily, Invest with All Prudence
- 10. Budget and Track Your Spendings
- The Bottom Line
- More About Habits
- 1. Get out of your apartment
- 2. Adjust your expectations for your performance
- 3. Create accountability
- 4. Ramp up the self-care and connect with others
- 5. Connect with a therapist
- 6. Learn the language of self-compassion
- 7. Find the gifts in your pain, past and present
- Tips for Finding Motivation When You’re Depressed
- Tip #1: Remind yourself you’re a BADASS human.
- How can you do this?
- Tip #2: Have a support system
- Tip #3: Do something that excites you
- Tip #4: Focus
- Tip #5: Break it down
10 Things People with Depression Need to Do Every Day
Yes, you are depressed. I know that place way too well, and I work my butt off to stay out of the D-zone. Here are 10 little things that will give you a lift. You may not think you have the energy to do them, but, trust me, you can. It’s as easy as reading this post.
- When you wake up, get yourself out of bed. Lying there will only let the negative thoughts gather energy. Once you start moving, your frame of reference for the day will change. You know this is true.
- Before making your coffee, or whatever your morning ritual is, open up your phone and read something funny. There are so many apps that offer a joke a day and websites that point you to the funniest tombstones (“I wanted a Pyramid”). The trick is to surf the web until you laugh out loud. Once that happens, you can go on with your day.
- If you have someone next to you, most likely you are a fortunate person. Most people find it hard to live with someone who’s depressed; the fallout can be difficult. Your task is to communicate your appreciation to the one who loves you. That’s it. This will also make you appreciate yourself more.
- Plan your day. Business may be slow, and you may not have the energy to work anyway, or so you think. Even if your calendar is empty, you need to plan your day. It can be simple: Get up, eat, walk the dog, write your blog, take care of your environment. Simply knowing that you will go about the daily tasks of living can feel good, and when you are running errands or cleaning off your desk, purging files, or just doing the dishes, you won’t have time to feel so down.
- Get clean. When you don’t have to be anywhere, it’s easy to skip the shower, which isn’t so horrible unless it goes on for more than a day or two. Bathing daily is healthy, it wakes you up, and you always feel better afterward. Keeping clean is a basic thing that some people suffering from depression find very difficult to do. So now you know: Bathing is important, and it makes a difference.
- Feed yourself well. It’s easy enough to live on a diet of fast or frozen food and delivery, but it’s not nurturing or healthy. Making yourself one good meal a day can seem daunting at first, but in time you will look forward to it, because self-nurturing is still nurturing. And if you don’t cook, at least order good food for yourself.
- Find a way to make or save some money. If you clip a couple of coupons, find a deal online for something you need, or take back those shoes you thought you wanted but will never wear, you make yourself a little more financially secure. Money worries are very common when you are depressed, so being a little bit careful is also healthy.
- Interact with another real human being. Depression can cause you to want to avoid other people, but almost nothing could be worse for your condition. Even if it’s someone you know only casually, just saying, “Hello. How are you?” will lift your spirits as well as theirs. Having a real conversation and sharing feelings can do even more.
- Spend 10 minutes learning about meditation. The jury is in: Meditation works. You may think it’s not for you or not possible for you, but do some research. The practice is so simple, and the rewards are great.
- Don’t buy into depression-think. This is when you allow yourself to be limited by your depression. You don’t have to. Depression is an illness, but it doesn’t have to define who you are. Remember, you don’t have to be a victim of depression, you can fight this.
Depression is horrible, and I don’t want to stay in that space one second longer than necessary. It takes work to get out of it, but it is so worth the effort. Feeling some joy when you’ve been down is a breath of fresh air. Taking the above suggestions will make that possible.
9 Strategies for Boosting Motivation When You’re Depressed
Set small, manageable goals.
If the thought of doing anything seems overwhelming, start small. Set small, manageable goals. As you meet these goals, you can start adding more on top of them until you ultimately achieve all of your goals. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
1. 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.
2. Go for a walk
Exercise helps your body release endorphins, the feel-good hormones. Exercising for at least 35 minutes a day, five days a week, can improve symptoms of mild to moderate depression. It may also help treat more severe forms of depression.
In another study, four weeks of aerobic training were found to improve symptoms of depression.
3. Get your hands dirty to get a mood lift
According to a study with mice, a certain type of bacteria found in dirt (Mycobacterium vaccae) may enhance the production of serotonin. Serotonin in turn helps decrease the symptoms of depression.
Bacteria found in fermented foods, such as yogurt, can also enhance moods by reducing anxiety and potentially improving symptoms of depression.
4. Don’t overschedule
Congratulate yourself for every task or goal you complete, no matter how small.
If you can only accomplish one or two tasks, that’s fine. Congratulate yourself for every task or goal you complete, no matter how small. That will help improve your confidence and sense of motivation.
5. Avoid negativity
Your brain digests whatever thoughts you create, so feed it positive ones.
Reading the news or surfing the internet, talking to people who leave you feeling drained and negative, or revisiting sad topics —these activities can all have an impact on your mood and motivation. Instead, focus on feelings of gratitude. Read uplifting content and surround yourself with positive people.
6. Stick to a routine
The sense of having accomplished daily tasks will promote a sense of well-being.
Write down your routine, stick it on the wall or somewhere you will see it, and use check marks when you’ve completed tasks. The sense of having accomplished daily tasks will promote a sense of well-being and inspire you to aim higher each day.
You could also keep a journal as part of your routine. Journals are a good place to dispose of negative thoughts and make room for the positive.
Choose positive relationships, encourage people to socialize with you when you feel up for it, and give volunteering a chance. Helping someone in need will improve your mood and increase your motivation to get out of bed the next day.
8. Create a support network
Have a support network on standby for when your motivation runs out and you feel overwhelmed. Choose people you feel comfortable talking to and who can help provide encouragement.
9. Get enough sleep
Depression can be physically draining. Sleeping too much or too little affects your mood. Aim for eight hours a day.
How to Accomplish Tasks When Depressed: Motivation’s Mystery
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Low motivation can drag you down even between your depressive episodes. Try these simple strategies to help you get the ball rolling, bit by bit.
Something changed when Sasha W. noticed the hot pink running shoes sitting in the corner of her bedroom. She was 27 at the time and struggling with the worst depressive valley of her life.
As she lay listless in bed one afternoon, the sight of those shoes reminded her of how much she used to enjoy running. She dragged herself up, tied on her shoes, and headed outside for a walk. The next day, she put on her shoes again. And then the next day, and the next.
“I kept feeling motivated to go a little further each day and run a little faster,” recalls Sasha.
That one initial effort—finding the “oomph” to simply put on her shoes—eventually turned into 10 half-marathons, three marathons, and a half Ironman. And it grew into Still I Run, a Facebook support group Sasha founded to motivate people with depression to exercise regularly.
Although “low motivation” isn’t specified in the criteria used to diagnose depressive episodes, that particular package of lethargy, apathy, and procrastination often comes with the territory.
“Depression impacts your thought process, which then impacts you physically and emotionally,” notes Lisa Ferentz, a clinical social worker and author of Finding Your Ruby Slippers: Transformative Life Lessons From the Therapist’s Couch.
“This can lead to loss of motivation to do daily living tasks, connect with other people socially, and meet responsibilities at work.”
Motivation can be narrowly defined as the desire to do something, but also has a larger meaning of making the effort required to pursue a goal.
Depression can trash all of that, thanks to symptoms like fatigue, indecisiveness, and anhedonia (either an inability to feel pleasure in activities you usually enjoy or just not caring).
It may be necessary to treat a depressive episode to remission in order to get anywhere close to “want to” and “able to.” Even day to day, though, low motivation can spread its tentacles in many forms—from having trouble finishing a particular project to slumping on the couch all day.
Alicia R. has bad days when “getting out of bed and functioning at the most basic level feels impossible.”
On those days, the Ottawa resident often misses her train into work. Once there, she’ll stare at her computer, unable to focus, sometimes writing the same sentence over and over. She’ll avoid conversations with co-workers. Back home again, she’ll retreat to bed instead of doing household chores or relaxing with her partner.
To fight back, she gives extra focus to coping skills and strategies she has worked on with her therapist. She also finds that being gentle with herself makes a difference for the better.
“At work, I will prioritize and ask myself, ‘If I can only get one thing done today’—which is likely—‘then what do I really want to finish?’ ” says Alicia. “Accepting where I am at really makes those rough days easier and more productive.”
Researchers who study “motivational deficits” in depression have sketched out some broad patterns.
One involves goal-directed behavior.
Among the findings: people with depression—or even those with no diagnosis but a high number of “negative symptoms”—are prone to set goals that aim at avoiding an undesirable outcome rather than goals targeting a positive result. In addition, they tend to be more pessimistic about their ability to achieve their goals.
Studies have shown that when you care more strongly about avoiding failure than you do about forging ahead to some accomplishment, you are more likely to give up earlier or to do what is known as “self-handicapping,” such as procrastinating or not trying your hardest.
Carol D., a longtime researcher in motivation and achievement, has found that people also will give up more easily if they believe accomplishment is based on some unchangeable quality, such as talent, rather than resulting from hard work and perseverance.
She encourages developing a “growth mindset” based on the idea that as human beings, we continually learn and can improve ourselves—the polar opposite of critical self-talk like “I’m so stupid” or “I’m worthless.”
Another line of inquiry looks at how people weigh effort versus outcome. When offered a choice between expending more effort to get a greater reward or receiving a smaller reward for less effort, both rodents with depressive-like symptoms and human participants with major depressive disorder tend to opt for the easier win.
Some researchers looking at the neuroscience behind motivation in mood disorders have zeroed in on the brain’s dopamine system. Spanish biological psychologist Mercè Correa and John Salamone, PhD, a professor at the University of Connecticut-Storrs, have shown that lab rats with lowered levels of dopamine will settle for a small pile of food which is easy to get, rather than make the effort to jump over a barrier for a bigger pile of food.
“Dopamine plays a key role in the activational aspects of motivation by getting you excited and energized. Dopamine can get you to act, and sometimes act vigorously,” says Salamone.
In recent years, dopamine dysregulation has been implicated in certain depressive symptoms, notably anhedonia and fuzzy thinking. Salmone’s research emphasizes drug interventions that act on restoring dopamine function as a way to increase “effortful activities” during depressions.
Read more >>
Printed as “The Mystery Of Motivation”, esperanza Magazine, Summer 2017
And when I’m depressed, I ignore anything that has less than 3 stars. Urgency is also about being able to say no to non-essential tasks. So, meeting your work deadline is essential. The church bake sale is non-essential. When we say yes to everything, we amplify our stress.
One of my friends’ mom, a pastor, says: ‘If you can’t say no, then your yeses mean nothing.’
Third and finally, getting stuff done when you’re depressed is about understanding difficulty. So, when I’m depressed, I label all tasks as a 1, 2 or a 3. If it’s an easy task, it’s a 1. Examples include eating breakfast or taking a shower.
If it’s a moderately difficult task, it’s a 2, and a 3 is reserved for difficult tasks. For example, finishing a paper in college or scheduling an appointment with your child’s teacher, or meeting a difficult work deadline. And when I’m depressed, I focus on finishing all the 1 level tasks first. And every time I cross something off my list, even if it’s taking a shower, I feel empowered and I think: ‘Bipolar, watch out, I’m coming, I got this!’ And as I finish off all the 1 and 2 level tasks, I build the confidence to tackle the 3 level tasks. And you can also help yourself by turning a 3 level task into a 1 level task.
So, I remember a time when I was in my therapist’s office and I told her: You know, I want to exercise because experience has told me that when I exercise, I feel better about my bipolar disorder. But I’m just too depressed to do 30 mins of exercise right now. And she said to me: If you don’t have 30 minutes, can you just give me 10 minutes? That was life-changing advice. So now I aim for 10 minutes. And 10 becomes 20. And 20 minutes becomes 30 minutes.
Today we’ve talked about 3 themes in getting stuff done when you’re depressed. They’re proactiveness, urgency and difficulty. Almost always when I use these strategies, they work. But there are days when the bipolar disorder or the ovarian disease, or the Myasthenia Gravis, or all of the above win. And when that happens, I remind myself of something that I want to share with all of you. I want to share this with anyone listening, who fights depression, or who loves someone that does.
Yes, depression is real. But hope is real. Courage is real. Resilience is real.
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You Thought You Couldn’t Be Productive When Feeling Depressed, Just Wait Till You Read This
Habits are behaviors and patterns that you showcase by default. They enable you to carry out crucial activities like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, getting prepared for work.
Interestingly, you follow this routine every day without considering them. Your unconscious habits create room for your brain to perform more advanced activities like problem-solving and choosing what book to read.
Everyone has habits, and several of those habits are activated every day. I would classify them into three groups:
- The first category includes the habits that you hardly notice as they have become a major part of your life- such as brushing teeth or wearing clothes.
- The second category comprises good habits to have to be more successful-like eating healthily, exercising your body and reading books.
- The last group consists of those habits that are harmful-like procrastinating, smoking or overeating.
Habits are fundamental to becoming successful in life — or probably ending up a failure. Yet, as significant as habits are, some lack the knowledge of their capabilities.
Habits are default activities that you engage in without giving an afterthought. They are automatic behavioral or mental activities. They help you carry out some actions without exerting too much energy. They simplify your life.
Several people aspire to break bad habits. For instance, some people diet to stop overeating. They exercise to reduce obesity. Habits can hinder or impact your performance and productivity.
That’s why I would share 10 good habits to have to be more successful in life.
1. Begin Your Day with Meditation
I recommend mindful meditation early in the morning. This practice helps you to be in the present moment. Consequently, it enables you to be mindful of challenging situations during the day.
Different stressors may trigger as you go through the day; meditation helps you to remain calm before taking on the challenges.
Personally, it helps me to devise strategies and think about ideas. Meditation is a good habit to have if you want to be connected to what’s significant in your life.
2. Be Grateful for What You Have
Sometimes, you waste time thinking of what’s not enough. You become immersed in those daunting challenges. However, challenges justify the presence of hope. When you have life, you have expectations. You will be free from challenges when you are six feet under. The only strategy you have to stop focusing on your problems is to focus on what you have.
Gratitude is a time-tested pathway to success, health, and happiness. It redirects your focus to what you have from what you lack. Here’s what James Clear does every day,
“I say one thing I’m grateful for each day when I sit down to eat dinner.”
Can you pause and smile before you continue reading this?
Now here is what just happened based on research conducted by the Association for Psychological Science; you set a pace for living a happier life when you smile. A genuine smile or what’s called a Duchenne smile is a good habit to have if you want to find spiritual, emotional and mental peace of mind.
Smiling induces the release of molecules that function towards fighting stress. The physiological state of your body determines the state of your mind. When you slouch or frown, your mind takes cues relating to unhappiness and depression. But, once you adjust yourself by putting up a smile, you begin to feel a new level of excitement and vibrancy.
Can you smile again?
4. Start Your Day with a Healthy Breakfast
Starting your day with a healthy breakfast is a good habit to have and forms a crucial part of your life. Nevertheless, about 31 million Americans skip their breakfast each day.
If you are fed up hearing that breakfast is a crucial component of your day, you are only fighting the truth. If you want to become more successful, you need to ‘break your fast’ with healthy foods every morning.
This habit is not difficult to form if you usually rush out the door every single morning. You can wake up earlier to fix yourself a meal so you don’t break down during the day.
Get inspired by these 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time.
5. Exercise Daily
One of the good habits to have is to exercise your body and muscles every day. You don’t have to run a marathon or lift a weight. You only need to engage in less strenuous activities that oxygenate your blood and inject endorphins in your body.
Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, classified exercise as a good habit to maximize his already jam-packed schedule. He said,
‘I wake up by 5, meditate for 30 minutes, seven-minute workout times three, make coffee, and check-in.’
He said on Product Hunt that he follows this routine every day as it gives him a steady-state that empowers him to be more productive.
6. Manage Your Time as You Manage Your Finance
Another good habit is the act of managing your time effectively. This goes a long way to impact your achievement.
Time management is what separates the successful from the rest of the world as we all possess the same amount of time. How you leverage time determines your potential to succeed in life.
So how do you manage your time effectively?
Here’s Jack Dorsey’s recommendation in one of the Techonomy events;
“I accomplish effective time management by theming my days and practicing self-discipline. These themes help me handle distractions and interactions. If a request or task does not align with the theme for that day, I don’t do it. This sets a cadence for everyone in the company to deliver and evaluate their progress”.
And this is Dorsey’s weekly theme:
- Monday – Management
- Tuesdays – Product
- Wednesday – Marketing and growth
- Thursdays – Developers and partnerships
- Fridays – Culture and recruiting
- Saturdays – Taking off
- Sundays – Reflection, feedback, strategy, and preparing for Monday
No wonder he was able to run two companies when others were struggling with one job.
7. Set Daily Goals with Intentions
Everyone has goals. It may relate to business or personal life. The truth is, we’re all tending towards a particular direction or another. Nevertheless, while long-term goals can offer you direction, it’s your daily goals that you establish that help you develop short-term goals that are essential for your success.
Long-term goals may not give you the motivation you need to keep on. But when you implement your short-term milestones daily, you become fired up, and you can overcome the challenges that come with taking on bigger tasks.
Here’s the main truth:Successful people don’t set goals without establishing their intentions. According to Jennifer Cohen of Forbes,
“What helps you to achieve your desired expectation is ensuring intentions accompany your daily goals.”
Be intentional about your daily goals!
8. Seek Inspiration
It is usually difficult to be inspired for a considerable length of time. Sometimes, you become discouraged and feel like giving up on your goals when things are not working out as intended.
A practical approach to stay on top of the situation is to inspire yourself each day. When you wake up in the morning after meditation, watch some motivational videos, and let the story of great leaders inspire you.
Establish what Anthony Robbins called the ‘hour of power.’ Determine how many minutes you spend but make it count. Inspiration is the fuel for achievement because when you can conceive it in your mind, you can accomplish it.
Michal Solowow, an investor and the founder of Mitex, a construction company puts it this way,
“The problems I encounter in everyday life motivates me to find solutions. This is a self-propelling mechanism. becoming a billionaire was never a motivating factor.”
9. Save Steadily, Invest with All Prudence
I can exhaust the good habits to have without talking about saving and investing. Most times, you overlook the significance of saving for the future when you are living in your present moment. According to CNBC, a $1000 emergency will propel several Americans into debt.
However, it is not enough to save, and you must invest your fund and be wise with it. If you pay attention to this now, you will set yourself for a life of success in the future. Ensure you save at least six months in your emergency account so you can be prepared for any future emergency.
10. Budget and Track Your Spendings
Benjamin Franklin warned of taking the precaution of little expenses. He said,
“A small leak sinks a great ship.”
It is easy to discard little expenses, but the truth is they always add up. This happens when you fail to budget.
Budgeting is a good habit to have, which can impact your financial life significantly. The money you spend on extravagant lifestyles can be saved and invested in your future.
The Bottom Line
Endeavor to cultivate these good habits to have to become more successful as you journey through life. The quicker you cultivate them, the faster you achieve your goals.
More About Habits
- 16 Everyday Habits of Highly Productive People
- 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away
- 11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits
Featured photo credit: Andrijana Bozic via unsplash.com
^ James Clear: Gratitude Habit ^ APS: The Psychological Study of Smile ^ NPD: 31 Million U.S. Consumers Skip Breakfast Each Day, Reports NPD ^ Product Hunt: Jack Dorsey’s Comment ^ Forbes: The Jack Dorsey Productivity Secret That Enables Him To Run Two Companies At Once ^ Forbes: The Most Successful People Don’t Set Goals — They Do This Instead ^ CNBC: Author who studies self-made billionaires: 9 things that motivate the ultra-rich to succeed ^ CNBC: A $1,000 emergency would push many Americans into debt
“We entrepreneurs can’t afford to date,” I half-joked to a friend the other day. “We can’t take sick days when we get our hearts smashed.”
I’m a therapist who helps people learn to be resilient in the face of life’s uncertainties. But even I catch myself feeling anxious about how to stay motivated when I’m feeling down—especially in the shit-show that is dating in New York.
All of us will experience grief and sadness—whether due to heartbreak, bereavement, or some other loss—over the course of our professional lives. And roughly 300 million people worldwide deal with depression, the most common cause of disability. Both grief and depression are no joke when it comes to affecting our productivity. While some people may dive into their work as a much-needed distraction, most experience a nosedive in basic functioning. Our motivation gets shot; we lose focus and concentration; our sleep and appetite get totally messed. On good days, we might be able to meet a deadline despite feeling like a shell of a human being. On bad days, just getting dressed is daunting.
Though it’s been a few years since I experienced crippling heartbreak, depression likes to make me a biannual visit. Inconvenient as it is, I’ve come to see it as an opportunity for “research” into an incredibly frustrating, painful, anxiety-provoking experience that a lot of people go through. I’ve compiled the following tips for anyone who’s going through a hard time—while doing their best to still get stuff done.
1. Get out of your apartment
Depression loves to lie to us. It says things like, “You’re a downer. Nobody wants to be around you” and “Stalk your ex’s new fiance’s Instagram!” and “Save energy and work from home today.” When it comes to productivity, working from home can be a challenge under prime circumstances. Throw a little heartbreak or shame in there, and next thing you know, the only things you’ve crossed off your to-do list are opening the door for Seamless and clicking “Next episode” fourteen times. Despite what depression tells you, get yourself to a coffee shop, library, or co-working space. Shower optional.
2. Adjust your expectations for your performance
Think of your mental health like a computer operating system. When all is well, you’re operating like a brand-new Mac that has one program open: Completing a task within your scope is a breeze. When you’re depressed or grieving, however, the pinwheel of anxiety’s spinning constantly. You’re basically “force-quitting” life.
Of course, given that depression is fueled by perfectionism for so many of us, this experience can cause another layer of shame, frustration, and anxiety. High achievers take pride in their ability to get the job done, and are used to meeting expectations. Alas, when we’re in a compromised emotional state, we have to learn to not to expect as much from ourselves.
So lower your expectations for performance: if you’re functioning at 30% of your usual state, expect 30% of what you would normally achieve. Then set SMART goals: goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-oriented. For example, instead of “I’m going to make a pitch deck tomorrow” (which is vague and possibly unrealistic) write, “From 12-2pm, I’m going to go to a coffee shop and create an outline for what my pitch deck will include.” This will mitigate unnecessary anxiety and help you feel less overwhelmed. And hitting realistic goals will enhance your confidence—which in turn increases your motivation.
3. Create accountability
Holding ourselves accountable to self-imposed deadlines is a challenge at the best of times. Holding ourselves accountable to self-imposed deadlines when you’re in the pit of despair is nearly impossible (pdf). Give yourself a leg up by making a work date with a friend, goal-setting with your therapist or coach, hiring an intern, or promising a (realistic) delivery time to someone via email. This isn’t the time for beating yourself up over a lack of intrinsic motivation. Ask for help, and maybe even experience some bonus healing-connection along the way.
4. Ramp up the self-care and connect with others
People who are going through a hard time often have the impulse to isolate themselves. But even though it feels counterintuitive, it’s absolutely essential to spend time with others—so long as they’re people who care about you, around whom you can allow yourself to be a total mess. Let go of expectations for being the life of the party. Watching Netflix side-by-side with a bowl of popcorn is enough.
In addition, make time for self-care. There are two types of self-care when we’re feeling broken inside: the kind that distracts, like rock-climbing, jewelry-making, and other activities that demand full concentration; and the kind that helps us process our emotions, like journaling or making art. Some activities provide us a little of both: yoga, for example. (Bonus: exercise helps with mood, processing pain and trauma, and cultivating focus).
Ensure you’re doing something kind for yourself every day, and trust this is necessary not only for healing and mood, but for your productivity as well. Beating yourself up for being unproductive isn’t going to inspire motivation, so you may as well surrender to the fact that you need healing time and work it into your schedule. Finally, be mindful of your relationship with substances like alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, and even caffeine. Though tempting as aides or numbing agents, they can worsen our depressive symptoms.
5. Connect with a therapist
Therapists aren’t just for people who have a mental illness. We’re here as informed, confidential, nonjudgmental supports for anyone who is going through a dark period. Many revered entrepreneurs have been vocal about the value of therapy in their success. Worried about the investment? Many therapists work to accommodate clients with sliding scales. And studies show that when we invest in something, we’re more likely to value it. That suggests we may be more likely to commit to improving our well-being when we’re making a financial investment in therapy sessions.
6. Learn the language of self-compassion
Being tough on yourself will totally motivate you to get stuff done, right? Wrong. More and more research is emerging to suggest self-criticism actually has a demotivating effect. The far better alternative is self-compassion, which is basically perfectionism’s kryptonite. It’s all about understanding that you’re an imperfect human being like everyone else, and setting realistically high but flexible expectations. When we’re self-compassionate, we treat ourselves with care as we would a friend, making space for error and thus allowing ourselves to take risks, grow, and meet our expectations along the way.
7. Find the gifts in your pain, past and present
Though recent studies contradict the notion that creativity is directly correlated with mental illness, our creativity and appetite for success is often birthed from the same original pain as our neuroses. For example, the same relational trauma that can cause a person to develop artistic talent or a wicked sense of humor (#coping) can also lead to overwhelming internal shame that perpetuates depression and anxiety. So acknowledge that many of your strengths wouldn’t be present without those same seeds that birthed your battles. Moreover, as renowned social researcher Brené Brown so eloquently says, “Art has the power to render sorrow beautiful.” Finding meaning in suffering is necessary. So turning your “mess” into a mission, whether that’s a blog post or a nonprofit, may be the most productive move of all.
It can be hard to stay motivated at the best of times but when you’re feeling depressed or generally low, it can often feel impossible.
But staying on top of things while you’re down can make it easier when you start to feel more settled.
Therapist Megan Bruneau has compiled a list of tips for Quartz, aimed at everyone who is going through a tough time and struggling to get stuff done.
1. Head outdoors
People suffering from anxiety and depression are often advised to get outdoors as much as they can. Being around nature, reminding yourself how big and hopeful the world is and breathing in the fresh air can all help you to shift your mindset.
Brunea believes that pushing beyond the wish to stay at home, under your duvet, and going for a walk can be the key to feeling more productive.
‘When it comes to productivity, working from home can be a challenge under prime circumstances.
‘Throw a little heartbreak or shame in there, and next thing you know, the only things you’ve crossed off your to-do list are opening the door for ‘Seamless’ and clicking ‘Next episode’ fourteen times.’
2. Give yourself a break
Though emotional pain is very different from physical pain, Indy100 explains that you wouldn’t expect to move as fast with a broken leg and nor should your expect your working performance to be top-notch when depressed.
Dr Bruneau recommends lowering your expectations a little, like you would when getting back into exercise after breaking your leg.
Set more realistic goals for yourself and follow her general rule of thumb: ‘If you’re functioning at 30 per cent of your usual state, expect 30 per cent of what you would normally achieve.’
Getting specific with your goals can also be helpful as it helps eliminate some of the decision making when it comes down to actually getting stuff down. Work out where and what time you’ll be doing each task, as well working out what the task is.
3. Hold yourself responsible
It can feel like an extra burden you don’t need when you’re low but holding yourself accountable for your goals and plans is a good way of staying on track.
Doing this with a therapist or a friend you trust is a good way to stay motivated and they’ll also be able to help give you perspective about whether what you want to do is achievable.
If you’re struggling through a tough time, being alone can feel like the best thing you can do but bruneau has other ideas: ‘Even though it feels counterintuitive, it’s absolutely essential to spend time with others – so long as they’re people who care about you, around whom you can allow yourself to be a total mess. Let go expectations for being the life of the party.’
4. Show self-compassion
Self-care is important whether you’re feeling really great or really low. It’s distracting, it forces your mind to work in a different way and it’s a great time for some reflection and perspective.
Exercise in particular has been proven to help with mood but it might be something as simple as long bath with essential oils or a hobby you really enjoy.
Show yourself love even when you feel you could be doing better and see how it positively affects you. It’s always better to work from a place of love than hate.
5. Research therapy
Even if you’re sceptical about it, it’s good to do some research into the different types of therapy out there as whatever you are struggling with, non-judgemental, confidential and objective support is bound to help.
Whether that is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to give you coping strategies for anxiety or Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) to help release old emotions and stories that are holding you back.
Anya Meyerowitz Anya is a freelance editor and journalist with a penchant for coats, shoes and handbags.
Tips for Finding Motivation When You’re Depressed
Telling a depressed person to get motivated is like telling a rock to dance. You’ll get the same result.
It’s not because depressed people don’t want to get motivated. It’s because getting motivated is an overwhelming task when you’re depressed. Is motivation impossible? Definitely not. You just have to find a process that works for you.
There is a saying: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” But many depressed people can’t get out of bed, much less take a thousand-mile journey. For many sufferers, medication is the first step.
There are those who scoff at the idea of medication as an answer. But for those in a major clinical depression, life is a dark place full of pain, hopelessness and insecurity.
Sometimes the blame can be placed on brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters don’t work right, and brain chemicals such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine — your feel-good chemicals — often don’t go where they’re supposed to go. Medications deal with chemical imbalances. Find the right one, and you may feel more like your old self again. Because you feel better, getting motivated becomes a little easier.
A good therapist goes hand in hand with medication. One without the other is kind of a half-solution. By talking to a trained professional, you’ll feel better because you’re talking to someone who knows how to listen.
Good friends listen, sure, but don’t forego a therapist for a friend. Well-meaning friends may tell you to just get over it or to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. This results in a vicious cycle. You may feel worthless and stupid because you’re finding it hard to brush your teeth, much less pull yourself up by your bootstraps. This leads to a deepening depression, which leads to more “helpful” remarks, which leads to even more depression. Unfortunately, the thick, ugly scars of depression aren’t outwardly visible, and when your wounds aren’t visible, sympathy from your friends is hard to come by.
There’s a method used in Alcoholics Anonymous that works for some, and that’s acting as if something were already true. For example, every morning when you wake up, pop up with as much vigor as you can muster. Don’t give yourself time to dwell. Get dressed immediately. It can be for the gym or dog-walking or some other form of exercise. Or, get dressed to go to the mall, the bookstore, or the theater.
Just get dressed. Do your hair. Groom yourself attractively, and do it quickly. Don’t give yourself time to talk yourself out of it. In other words, act as if you feel great already and you know for a fact that you’re leaving the house and will have a good time. At the very least, getting dressed and looking decent can go a long way toward giving you a mental boost. It may even give you enough motivation actually to go to the gym and exercise, which is great for alleviating depression.
If you’re not at the gym phase yet, however, walk the dog, or go into the yard and pull weeds for 20 minutes a day (assuming it’s spring or summer). This gives you the added benefit of sunshine. According to research, 20 minutes of sun a day will lift your mood. If it’s winter and you live in a cold climate, invest in a light box, which simulates full-spectrum sunlight.
Even if you can’t find the motivation to do anything, don’t berate yourself for it. You’re up and ready for the day, aren’t you? Do only what you can do, and let go of major expectations. If you brushed your teeth, that’s positive. Don’t be hard on yourself, or getting motivated to do anything becomes another chore to be avoided.
Depression whispers bad things in your ear about your capabilities. We hear, “You can’t do anything right. Look at the mess you’ve made of your life. Why aren’t you further along in your career? Why don’t you have a career at your age?” By consciously replacing the words on these soundtracks with positive words, we’ll be able to change our way of thinking. The brain is able to create new neural pathways. Change your way of thinking over a period of time, and a new neural pathway is created.
Use positive thoughts about yourself to create new neural pathways. Over time, the old, bad, unused pathways wither, die and fall off, much like the branches on an old tree. With some determination to stay on the positive path, you create a new soundtrack, which is filled with hope, giving you more motivation to keep stepping forward.
The same premise applies to self-talk in the mirror. Whenever you see yourself in the mirror, say something positive about yourself. Some people carry flashcards to remind themselves of their good traits when they’re feeling particularly down. This is a behavioral psychology method to get you to replace bad thoughts with good ones. Before long you are reminded of all the wonderful things that you have to offer, and you are motivated enough to take another step in the healing process toward rejoining the world.
Socialization is important. Make a standing appointment to have a friend or family member pick you up to go out. This way you’re held accountable to someone else. If there are no friends or family members available, don’t use that as an excuse. Going to the bookstore and people-watching in the coffeeshop is preferable to sitting home alone. Who knows? You may make a new friend. That is certainly motivating.
Give yourself credit for progress made, even if it seems tiny. Set small goals. Do what you can handle and nothing more. Are there seven loads of laundry to fold? Tell yourself you’ll fold laundry for five minutes, then do it. You’ll be surprised by how accomplishing one thing you said you were going to do can boost your spirits and motivate you.
By the same token, don’t set yourself up to fail by telling yourself you’re going to do something you know you can’t do. Because, when you do fail, your motivation to move forward stops. Try doing only one thing at a time, a little bit at a time. Five minutes here, 10 minutes there — each success makes it easier to stay motivated for the next step in your journey to feeling good about yourself.
Many people struggle with depression; you’re not alone. Take that first step. Find what works for you, and the motivation to continue forward will come. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible.
Tips for Finding Motivation When You’re Depressed
A common response to identifying lifestyle changes that might make a depressed person feel better is, “Easier said than done.” Someone coping with depression may get what she’s supposed to do, but the question is how? After all, depression kills motivation, energy, interest, and focus.
Once you give the engine a jump, it often becomes easier, but until then, how do you connect the jumper cables you need to make a spark?
1. Set the bar LOW.
When you’re depressed, you’re not functioning at your usual 70-90%. Rather, you’re sitting somewhere closer to 20%. If you set the same expectations for yourself that you had when you weren’t feeling depressed (which is sometimes just getting dressed), you’re going to feel anxious and overwhelmed, and probably won’t do the task you expected from yourself (and thus will feel defeated and ashamed).
Set SMALL AND SPECIFIC GOALS. Seriously. Unload the dishwasher. Heck, unload three glasses. Task completed and still itching for more? You can always raise the bar if you’re feeling particularly motivated. Take note that if you feel highly overwhelmed while tackling your goal, chances are it’s too high and you need to lower it to something more realistic or specific.
2. Practice self-compassion.
Self-criticism is depression’s BFF. If you beat yourself up for being so “unproductive” and “lazy,” You’re going to keep yourself feeling like crap and thus, paralyzed. Try instead to use the same encouraging words you might use for a friend or loved one. If you can’t find the words, read more about self-compassion here.
3. Recruit support, or ask for help.
Some of us have trouble holding ourselves accountable at the best of times. With little motivation or energy, it’s that much harder. Confide in someone you trust, and ask for their help. Ask a friend to hold you to your commitment. Ask your partner to accompany to a yoga class. Pay for your support group, counseling appointment, or massage beforehand so you’ll be more motivated to attend.
4. Envision how you’ll feel after the task.
Getting in the shower, going for a walk, preparing a meal, or hanging out with a friend seems like a very ominous task if you focus on the effort involved. People who are depressed generally have low self-efficacy, which means they have low confidence in their ability to perform tasks. As such, they tend to feel overwhelmed and avoid such tasks. Lower expectations for yourself within the task, and envision how you (might) feel after the task rather than during.
5. Make the goal to do it, not to enjoy it.
When you’re feeling depressed, it’s natural to lose interest in things that used to make you happy. Comedy is no longer funny, sports are no longer fun, spending time with friends is no longer engaging. Anxiety, depression, and self-loathing take over, leading to feelings of detachment and defeat. So, when doing something “fun” or “active,” do it with the goal to do it, not to enjoy it.
6. Acknowledge your courage for stepping out of your comfort zone.
As painful as it is, depression can be come comfortable in a “devil you know” kind of way. You know what to expect, for the most part. You know the pain, you’re in the pain, you can predict that tomorrow will be more of the same. The idea of stepping out of this comfort zone can be quite anxiety provoking. Steven Hayes, a psychologist whose work I admire said, “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’re always going to get what you’ve always gotten.” So, if you find you’re able to do something (even very slightly) different, congratulate yourself. There’s a good chance whatever you’re experiencing will come with anxiety, because anxiety accompanies uncertainty. Anxiety may be telling you you’re stepping out of the familiar routine of depression, so acknowledge your courage and try to bring such experiences forward in your journey.
Tip #1: Remind yourself you’re a BADASS human.
I struggle with depression and as a new entrepreneur trying to get a business off the ground, it can be pretty terrible to deal with.
I want to share my story.
Not just because I think it will help you get to know me (it’s good to be a little vulnerable every once in a while) but also because I hope this might help some of you. Some of the things my clients are going to be dealing with can be pretty tough too. Debt repayment, savings, lifestyle changes; it’s hard to stay on track, especially if you’re dealing with something like depression or anxiety on top of that.
That’s what I’m going to be talking about today. How to keep moving on with your goals when you just don’t think you have anything left to give.
Disclaimer: I’ve never actually been officially diagnosed with depression or any other DSM-5 mental health issue. I want to be clear on that, because I don’t want to misrepresent myself as someone who has experience with a diagnosis. I have seen a psychotherapist in the past, who did say I could have what’s called ‘High Functioning Depression’ but the ongoing therapy seemed to really help so we didn’t go too far into any medication options or official testing. Just so we’re on the same page, that’s where I’m at.
I have this issue where I basically forget every good thing I ever did. Ok, that’s kind of a lie, but when I get in these depressive slumps, it’s really easy to just fall into that self-deprecating language like: “you’re not doing enough, you made a terrible choice, why can’t you just BE motivated” When I’m in these times, I forget a lot of stuff. Like, the amazing things I accomplished last month, last week, or even that morning!
Sometimes I’m so upset with myself that I haven’t done something yet (like write a YouTube script) that I forget I spent 3 overtime hours the day before creating all the instagram captions for the next week.
So, REMIND yourself. Right now, I’m video journalling. I’m trying to video journal when I’m happy, AND when I’m sad, so that I can look back and remember how I was feeling and how I overcame that thing. For example, last December, I felt pretty crappy about how I was treating my business. But, looking back I can see that I was just totally burnt out from my full-time job sucking all of my energy.
How can you do this?
Send messages to your future self. Yep! Film yourself saying motivational things, or record a voice note to listen to later.
It’s just for you, so don’t worry about sounding cheesy or stupid. Say something that you know you’ll need to hear.
I also like to use the app “ThinkUp” it lets you record affirmations to yourself, so you can hear them in YOUR voice.
Which, I’ll admit is a little creepy at first, but after a while you realize it’s a lot more impactful than just listening to someone else say them.
If you are totally freaked out by the concept of seeing yourself on film or hearing your own voice, you can also set little calendar reminders just at random times throughout the week or month that are just encouraging.
Sometimes, it will just be a nice reminder, but other times it will hit you in the exact moment you need it the most.
Tip #2: Have a support system
Talk to your friends, talk to your family. Tell them how you’re feeling.
They love you, and they’ll help you see things you can’t.
Like how much of a badass human you are! They’ll remind you of why you’re doing all of this and help get you out of the funk.
I love to save encouraging messages from my friends to read later too.
If you ever get a nice message from a friend, or a client or a random person on facebook, screenshot it.
Put it in a folder that just says ‘why’ or ‘happy things’ or whatever, and look at it when you’re feeling kinda shitty about yourself.
Tip #3: Do something that excites you
Now, if those first two steps got you motivated, AMAZING. But knowing how I deal with things and assuming you’re the same, you’re probably not there yet. So, this next tip is a little more actionable.
Do something that excites you.
This is something one of my mentors taught me. When she gave me this message I was feeling pretty discouraged about everything that was going on in my life and guilty that I wasn’t ‘just working through it’.
So she said “just start with something that excites you”.
And holy crap does this make a world of a difference!
When you’re procrastinating, or upset about something you can’t FORCE yourself to do work. Even if you do, the work isn’t great, and you know you’re just going to be more upset about not being good enough. But, think about something task-adjacent to complete. It doesn’t have to be the most complicated or productive thing. It can even be a REALLY stupid minuscule thing. (Like, if you’re not motivated at all to do a budget check-in when you really need to, try colour coding all of your expenses into categories instead!)
Like legitimately just colour code stuff for an hour.
Some may call it a complete waste of time, but if it gets you in that working mood and you’re actually doing something, you’ll feel accomplished and a lot more likely to be motivated to do the thing you’re dreading!
And, I know I just called colour coding exciting but hey. That gets me PUMPED.
Tip #4: Focus
My fourth tip is FOCUS. I LOVE the app called “TIDE”.
Basically, it sets a timer, for whatever amount you want, with background music like forest sounds, or a busy cafe sound, so you can ‘FOCUS’.
When I’m feeling extremely unmotivated, and like I can’t do anything, I’ll set the timer for 10 minutes. Or, even 5 minutes, and just DO a thing I’ve been dreading. 5 minutes isn’t that long. You can work up the courage to do that hated thing for just 5 minutes. If you get good at that, repeat it. Or, challenge yourself to make it 10 minutes, or 20 minutes.
You can even keep increasing the time until you get it done! It’s really helpful actually to just focus on that one task. To narrow in and see that clock countdown to encourage you to keep going.
Getting up the courage to work for 10 minutes is much easier than getting the courage to complete a whole task that might take hours.
Tip #5: Break it down
And finally, you’ve done all of the things on this list and you’re still struggling to stay on top of it, break it down. And then break it down a little more.
Break whatever the task is into tiny little minuscule pieces. As small as you can. And tackle one at a time. A little progress is better than no progress, and if all you can do is a small tiny thing all day? Well at least you did that small tiny thing.
I find when I’m in my depressive spirals of anxiety and self-doubt, it really hinders my ability to do ANYTHING. Which, of course, puts me down further into the spiral because I’m feeling guilty for not doing and therefore ‘BEING’ ‘enough’, and it’s way harder to climb out. So, I’ve found that it really helps to ‘keep my head above water’ so to speak, if I can tell myself “At least you did THIS”.
If I’m really struggling say to make a weeks worth of instagram posts and I’m getting really overwhelmed trying to figure out what I’m going to do, I’ll just make ONE.
When you can barely get out of bed to take shower, it’s pretty freaking difficult to do anything else, so just break it up as small as you can and do that tiny thing.
Be PROUD of yourself that you did that thing. Because if you’re really feeling that down, that one thing is HUGE.
Accept yourself for who you are.
Some people just need a little (or a lot) of extra self-care and you’re ALLOWED to give yourself that.
You shouldn’t feel guilty for your feelings, or put yourself down because it seems like everybody has it together and you just can’t.
Obviously it’s much easier said than done, I’m a little bit of a hypocrite because I’m definitely talking to my future self here, but I think that’s important too.
It’s important to realize that there are different parts of us. When you’re in ‘the good times’, the confident times, the happy times, make memories.
Realize that THAT is your real brain talking and when you get into the depressive spirals it’s just your ugly brain monster wanting to keep you down. Be brave. Your ugly brain monster is going to tell you tons of terrible lies to keep you stuck. So remember your real brain instead.
Your real brain is where the motivation comes from.
Your real brain makes the goals and has all of the ambition and energy.
THAT’S the one you have to let in the driver’s seat.
Alright thanks so much everyone for reading! If you liked this post, I’d like to invite you to join my Facebook group!
It’s an awesome and honest personal finance group where you can be motivated by your peers to reach all your money goals, it’s called Financially Naked with Ready Set Life. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/financiallynaked and I’d love to see you there!