10 Ways to Get Motivated When You’re Depressed
If you struggle with clinical depression, it can feel impossible to find motivation to complete even the smallest task. When it comes to depression, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. According to the World Health Organization, more than 264 million people suffer from depression worldwide, and it is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Because depression is such a wide-spread mental illness, a lot of people have various coping mechanisms that help them stay motivated throughout the day or pull themselves out of a depressive episode.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 ways to get motivated when you’re depressed, five steps that you can take to move forward each day, and five tactics that you can apply to your life as a whole to see widespread results.
Daily Strategies to Combat a Lack of Motivation
- Get out of bed and get ready for the day. First thing’s first, get up. Experiencing low motivation and a lack of energy are two of the most common signs of depression. When you suffer from this mental health issue, getting out of bed should be considered your first victory of the day.Pat yourself on the back, and if you’re feeling up for it, make your bed, too. While it may seem like a small step, avoid procrastinating by keeping your space tidy and organized to feel a sense of control and accomplishment.Finally, whether you take a shower, put on a favorite outfit, brush your hair or throw on some makeup, practicing self-care in the morning can provide a self-esteem boost that lasts throughout the day. When we look good, we tend to feel good, too.
- Go outside. Spending as little as 20 minutes in the sun has been proven to greatly enhance one’s mood and overall well-being. If it’s wintertime or you live in a dark climate, consider investing in a light that is created to combat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) for a needed serotonin boost.If you are able to go outside, try gardening or weed-pulling. Getting your hands a little dirty has been shown to be a mood-enhancer, and it allows you to be productive in a calm, low-pressure setting.
- Do something active. If you’re not ready to hit the gym just quite yet, going for a walk outside is a great way to bring some positivity to your day. Prioritizing physical health about five days a week can significantly improve symptoms of depression.While a change of scenery can be helpful if you don’t feel like leaving your house, no problem. There are plenty of at-home workouts that allow you to squeeze in your daily dose of exercise. Try this yoga YouTube channel for free videos at any skill level.
- Socialize. Plan a coffee date with a loved one or schedule a family zoom call. Don’t feel up to socializing one-on-one? Walk around a bookstore or a museum to simply get yourself around other people. You can also join a depression support group to spend time with and talk to other individuals who share your same struggles.Humans are meant to socialize, and it plays a large role in our day-to-day happiness. No matter how daunting it may feel at times, attempt to implement some sort of socialization into your day, no matter how big, small, long or brief it may be.
- Get enough sleep. Proper sleep plays a major role in daily functioning. It can affect our happiness, health, and ability to stay motivated throughout the day. People who suffer from depression may struggle with sleeping too much or too little. Aim to get approximately eight hours a night to feel like your best self, physically and mentally.
Big Picture Changes to Support Mental Health
- Follow a routine. Create a daily routine that involves everything from getting up in the morning to whatever work you have to complete that day. Write your routine down on a sticky note or even in a journal. Cross off tasks once they’re completed, and consider rewarding yourself for each thing you get done.Working through your day-to-day responsibilities in this way can help create a sense of accomplishment and positivity that can not only help you get through the day but also motivate you to aim higher the next day. Also, scheduling out your time in advance helps to create a comforting sense of stability.
- Don’t overbook yourself. Listen to yourself and don’t take on more than you can handle. Be realistic about what you schedule to do in one day. This will help you avoid feeling depressed if you don’t finish, and instead feel accomplished and proud when you do tackle each task, no matter how big or small. Congratulate yourself for anything and everything you’re able to get done. Remember, you are battling a mental illness. It’s not easy work!
- Avoid negativity. With a constant news cycle and social media at the tips of our fingers, it can be challenging to avoid negative thoughts and things that bring us down. Do your best to recognize what exactly makes you feel bad, whether that be media or anything else you come across in daily life.Pay attention to how negative stimuli affects you. Do your absolute best to cut down your exposure to it as much as possible, or to cut it out completely when necessary. Replace negative stimuli with positive news and positive people to feel better overall.
- Talk to a mental health professional. Visit a licensed therapist or a psychiatrist to determine whether or not you need medication to help with your depression. A healthcare provider can also provide you with advice and coping mechanisms to work through your depression symptoms.
- Create a support system. Identify a group of friends and family members that you can rely on day-to-day when your therapist or psychiatrist may not be available. Choose people who are good at listening, respect what you’re working through and are able to motivate you in a positive way. A listening ear can do wonders to relieve your overwhelming feelings or provide a much-needed pick-me-up.
Be Kind to Yourself
Through whatever steps you decide to take towards motivation, or even if you don’t yet decide to take any at all, it’s important to be kind to yourself. Acknowledge your depression and the struggles that come along with it, and recognize just how difficult working through it is.
Don’t overwhelm yourself by fixating on upcoming responsibilities, and instead make your way through the current day one task at a time. Remember that no task is too small, and each accomplishment you tackle should be considered just that, an accomplishment.
If you or a loved one need immediate help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.