Depression and motivation are two words often on opposite ends of the spectrum. Depression is a common mental health disorder, affecting 5% of adults. It’s different than the regular mood swings of day-to-day life and can be long-lasting with moderate to severe intensity — characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness and sometimes even suicidal thoughts.
Does depression make you lack motivation? It absolutely can. These conditions make it very difficult to find motivation. We all need the motivation to go after our dreams and achieve our goals. Learn tips and tricks on how to get motivation when depressed.
How to get motivation when depressed
1. Keep motivated company
We all have that friend who’s always on the go — the goal-setter who just makes things happen. This is the best kind of company to keep when you’re feeling down. It’s especially helpful if they invite you along to share a meal or go for a walk. You can motivate each other to cross off your to-do lists, share experiences and help each other when you’re feeling down. It doesn’t always have to be about getting out of the house either — sometimes just talking about what’s going on in your life can make all the difference.
2. Spend time in nature
Spending time in nature paired with movement is one of the best ways to find motivation when depressed. An activity like going for a walk releases endorphins, clears your mind, and is an interactive way to meet new people. It can also be a positive outlet for stress relief. This is especially helpful if you’re suffering from depression. While the endorphins give the body a natural boost, checking off a daily goal will also make you feel good about yourself. It’s proof that you are indeed capable of achieving what you set your mind to. If you don’t know where to start, consider speaking with a professional counsellor. They can guide you to develop a habit that best fits your goals, lifestyle, and passions. Integrating just a few minutes in nature is a refreshing addition to the day that can positively impact your mental health. Who knows, you may even discover a hobby that sticks.
3. Socialize with friends or family
Socialization is another way to get motivated when depressed. Socializing is essential to positive mental health as humans are meant to feel like they belong in a group. That’s why it’s so important to reach out to loved ones if you’re struggling with depression.
Socialization helps you feel connected to other people, which can alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation. This is especially important if you are depressed, as the symptoms of depression include feeling apathetic, irritable, and unmotivated. Socialization works to combat those negative feelings and bring you back into a motivated state. Socializing with friends or family will also give you something to look forward to every day — a break from the monotony of your daily routine. When we have something to look forward to each day (even just an hour), our mood tends to improve drastically!
4. Set a routine and stick to it
One of the best ways to get motivated when depressed is to set up a routine. Routines provide consistency, which is something many people with depression lack. Your routine can be as simple as brushing your teeth every morning, or as involved as getting work done for your side hustle. Your routine is on your terms — you get to set how to get motivation when depressed.
Routines can also help you meet goals and achieve things that you wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise, especially while experiencing feelings of depression. For example, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your errand list and don’t know where to start, try setting aside some time each day to get one thing out of the way (like cleaning one room per day). You can even block this time off in your calendar to commit. This will give you some structure and make it much easier to complete necessary tasks. The best part: you’ll feel relieved to have them done.
5. Get enough sleep
You may be feeling unmotivated because your body genuinely needs rest. Getting enough sleep is essential for your physical health and mental health. When you’re lacking sleep, you’re more likely to experience increased levels of stress and irritability. Lack of sleep may also make it difficult to concentrate, which can make getting things done more challenging. Getting 7-8 hours per night is an excellent way to improve your mood for depression.
On the flip side, struggling with depression or other types of mental illnesses can make sleep more challenging. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night, especially if this persists over time, consider talking with your doctor or counsellor to set a sleep hygiene plan. You can also improve sleep quality by exercising regularly.
6. Track your triggers
Tracking your triggers is an important part of overcoming depression and finding motivation. A trigger can be anything that sets off a depressive episode.
Some common triggers can include:
- Being alone for long periods
- Being around too many people or large crowds
- Experiencing uncomfortable sensory feelings
- Feeling rejected (even by yourself)
- Experiencing physical pain.
- You may also have a specific time of day that makes you feel worse than others (for example, morning).
Tracking your triggers helps you notice patterns and identify which situations make you feel depressed most often. This can give clues as to why depressive symptoms arise, and how to better manage them in the future. For example: if certain people always seem to make you upset when they’re around, there’s probably something about them that causes feelings of hurt or disappointment. This is an opportunity to set a boundary and take steps to either strengthen the relationship or distance yourself.
Once you’ve figured out what triggers your depression, keep track by writing it down somewhere private like in a journal or on your phone. Next time you feel a depressive episode coming on, try consulting the list to see what could be setting it off. Then, take steps to incorporate self-care that strengthens your mental health.
7. Repeat positive affirmations
Positive affirmations are statements you can repeat when you’re feeling depressed or unmotivated. These statements can be powerful tools for changing your thoughts and actions, helping you to feel better, and achieve your goals. For example, if you’re having trouble getting motivated to exercise when depressed, try saying something like: “I am strong and capable of doing anything I set my mind to.” Or if it’s hard for you to get out of bed in the morning, try repeating something like: “Today is going to be great! I’m going to make sure I spend time with my family today.” Much like hearing motivational quotes to help with depression, affirmations have the same uplifting effect.
The process is simple: just repeat these positive phrases aloud or to yourself until they become ingrained into your subconscious mind as accurate. You’ll find that soon enough, they’ll come naturally — like breathing or blinking — and they’ll become a way of life for you.
Feel more motivated today
It’s normal for depression to have an impact on motivation. It’s important to continue taking small steps towards your goals. You don’t have to do everything at once or even all at once — start by picking one thing from this list and commit yourself to trying it tomorrow. A counsellor can help you set a real plan and stick to it. They’ll empower you with the skills and tools to to teach you how to get motivation when depressed and take steps to recover from depression. Our counsellors are equipped to help you deal with any symptoms of depression, giving you the support you need to feel better. Find your motivation today.