Break the Blues: How to Get Motivated When Depressed - a little dose of happy - Blog

Break the Blues: How to Get Motivated When Depressed

Do you ever feel like no matter what you do, you just can’t get motivated to make any progress in your life? Depression can be an all-encompassing and overwhelming feeling, leading us down a deep rabbit hole of sadness and despair.

While depression can feel paralyzing, there are ways to help ease the sadness and frustration that often come with it. This blog post will discuss how to break free from the blues and get motivated despite being depressed.

Key Takeaways

  • Combat depression and get motivated with 10 proven strategies.
  • Become aware of the signs and symptoms of depression to identify and take action towards managing it.

Understanding Depression

sad woman holding her head between her hands

Depression is a severe mental health disorder that profoundly impacts an individual’s quality of life. It’s characterized by persistent sadness, diminished motivation, and a disinterest in activities formerly found enjoyable.

Depression is more than a bout of the blues; it’s a complex condition that affects both the mind and the body, often making the simplest tasks seem insurmountable. The World Health Organization recognizes depression as one of the most disabling disorders in the world, affecting 5% of adults.

A major depressive episode is a heavy burden, impacting daily life and often leading to feelings of hopelessness. As a form of mental illness, it requires proper attention and care.

Symptoms of Depression

Identifying symptoms of depression is a crucial step toward managing it. This involves monitoring changes in mood, behavior, and physical state. Understanding these symptoms is vital for early detection, whether for oneself or others, facilitating timely management and the process of seeking support. It’s important to remember that depression experiences are unique, meaning symptoms can vary significantly between individuals.

Depression symptoms can include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
  • A significant decrease in interest or pleasure in activities previously enjoyed
  • Challenges in concentrating or making decisions
  • Noticeable changes in appetite or weight
  • Disturbances in sleep patterns
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches

Certain behavioral signs are also commonly associated with depression, such as:

  • Avoidance of social interactions
  • Preference for solitude
  • Frequent self-criticism
  • Perfectionist tendencies
  • Pervasive pessimism
  • Consistent lack of motivation

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. You don’t have to go through this alone; many resources are available to support you. Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or mental health professionals. You can also consider joining a depression support group. These groups provide a safe space to share your experiences, learn from others going through the same struggles, and receive encouragement and advice.

If you’re feeling particularly low or having suicidal thoughts, we highly encourage you to call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (formerly the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). It’s a free, confidential service that’s available 24/7.

If you’re unsure about reaching out, refer to HelpGuide’s “What to Expect When Calling a Helpline” resource to learn about helpline options, what to expect when you call, common concerns, and when to seek other mental health resources. While it can be daunting, this guide can help empower you to make that crucial call for support.

Remember, it’s okay to ask for help; reaching out is the first step toward feeling better.

How to Get Motivated When Depressed: 10 Proven Strategies

Motivation is the force that propels us forward, even in the face of adversity. When we feel motivated, we are driven to take action and make progress towards our goals.

During periods of depression, it’s common to lack motivation, which can make life’s everyday tasks seem daunting. So, how do you alleviate depression and find your way back to a more empowering emotional state? Here, we present ten proven strategies that can help you regain your motivation even when depression tries to pull you down.

1. Seek Professional Help

Seeking professional help is the first and one of the most crucial steps in combating depression. Mental health professionals can give you a proper diagnosis and the tools and strategies to manage and overcome your depression. For example, they can help you understand the root cause of your depression, teach you techniques to combat negative thought patterns, and provide you with a safe space to express your feelings and fears.

Mental health professionals can also guide you in setting realistic recovery goals. They can help you develop coping strategies tailored to your unique situation, empowering you to manage your symptoms more effectively. They can also provide resources and referrals to other health professionals, support groups, and educational materials, further aiding recovery. Seeing your progress under professional guidance can instill hope and motivate you on your recovery journey.

2. Educate Yourself

man sitting outside, reading a book

Education can not only bolster your confidence but also supercharge your motivation. It allows you to understand your condition better, learn about the strategies to help manage it, and realize that you are not alone in your struggle. It also provides a sense of control as you actively take steps to improve your situation.

Start by learning about depression and its effects on your mind and body. This can help you understand why you’re feeling the way you do and how you can start to change it. There are many resources available online, including articles, blogs, webinars, and videos that can provide valuable insights into managing and overcoming depression.

Reading success stories of people who have overcome depression can also be highly motivating. These stories can inspire hope and show that recovery is possible, even in the face of severe depression. They can also provide practical tips and strategies that you can implement in your own life.

Motivational literature can also be a great source of inspiration. Books, articles, and quotes focusing on personal growth, positivity, and resilience can boost motivation. They can remind you of your inner strength, instill a sense of purpose, and encourage you to keep going even when things are tough.

Here’s how you can incorporate education into your strategy against depression:

  • Set aside a specific time each day for learning: This could be in the morning when you’re fresh and alert or in the evening as a way to wind down.
  • Keep a journal of what you learn: Writing down your insights and reflections can reinforce your learning and provide a valuable resource to refer back to.
  • Share what you learn with others: This can reinforce your learning, provide a sense of community, and help others in a similar situation.

Remember, knowledge is power. The more you understand about depression, the better equipped you’ll be to manage your symptoms and improve your emotional health.

3. Limit Negative Inputs

Your environment can have a significant impact on your mood and outlook. By consciously curating your environment and surrounding yourself with uplifting influences, you can foster a more positive mindset to help combat depression. This includes your physical environment, such as your home or workspace, and your digital environment.

Consider doing a ‘digital detox’ – taking a break from social media platforms that may be contributing to negative feelings. Instead, fill your day with activities that make you feel good and help to distract you from negative thoughts. This could include reading uplifting books, listening to your favorite music, practicing a hobby, or even enjoying a cup of your favorite tea.

Similarly, spend time with people who inspire and lift you up. Being in the company of supportive people can substantially elevate your motivation and self-worth. These positive relationships can lend a listening ear, provide a different perspective, and even offer advice when needed.

In addition, consider incorporating positive affirmations into your daily routine. These are statements that you repeat to yourself, such as “I am capable” or “I can overcome this,” that can help to counteract negative thought patterns and instill a more positive mindset.

In short, our mental and emotional state often reflects what we feed it. By consciously limiting the negativity we allow in, we create a healthier mental environment. This proactive approach naturally reduces the fuel for depression, allowing positivity and resilience to flourish instead.

4. Create a Routine

When you lose motivation, even the simplest tasks can seem like climbing Mount Everest. Combat this overwhelming inertia by establishing a daily routine.

Creating a routine can combat feelings of aimlessness and bring structure to your day. Having a routine can provide a sense of normalcy and control. A well-structured routine can act as an anchor, grounding you amidst the turbulent sea of emotions caused by depression. It can also give you a sense of accomplishment as you tick off tasks throughout the day.

As a starting point for establishing your routine, prioritize your sleep. This is especially important as sleep disturbances are a common symptom of depression. Good sleep is crucial as it allows the body and mind to rest and rejuvenate. Improving your sleep quality naturally enhances mood, increases energy levels, and boosts motivation. A good habit to start is to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day to improve your sleep quality significantly.

man asleep

Here are some tips to help you establish a routine:

1. Start Simple: Begin with a basic structure for your day. This might include when you wake up, eat meals, and go to bed.

2. Add in Essential Tasks:  Once you have your basic structure, add essential tasks. This might include work or school commitments, appointments, or household chores.

3. Include Time for Self-Care: Self-care is essential when dealing with depression. Make sure to schedule time for activities that help you relax and recharge. This might include reading, taking a bath, meditating, or spending time outside in nature.

4. Be Consistent: Try to stick to your routine as closely as possible, but be flexible. It’s okay if you don’t always stick to your routine perfectly. The important thing is to try to maintain a consistent structure for your day.

5. Adjust as Needed: Your routine should serve you, not the other way around. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to adjust your routine. The goal is to create a routine that helps you manage your depression and improve your quality of life.

Remember, the purpose of a routine is to provide structure and predictability, not to add stress. Start small, be flexible, and adjust as needed to create a routine that works for you.

5. Set Small, Achievable Goals

Setting small, achievable goals provides a sense of direction and purpose, and accomplishing these goals can enhance self-esteem and confidence.

Start by identifying an area of your life you’d like to improve. This could be anything from your physical health to your relationships and career. Once you’ve identified this area, set a small, achievable goal related to it. For example, if you want to improve your physical health, your goal could be to take a 15-minute walk every day.

Here’s how to set effective goals:

1. Be Specific: Your goals should be clear and well-defined. Instead of setting a vague goal like “exercise more,” set a specific goal like “walk for 15 minutes every day.”

2. Make it Measurable: Your goal should be something you can track and measure. This allows you to see your progress and keeps you motivated to continue.

3. Ensure it’s Achievable: Your goal should be something you can realistically achieve. Setting goals that are too ambitious can lead to frustration and disappointment. Start small and gradually increase your goals as your confidence grows.

4. Relevance is Key: Your goal should be relevant to your life and interests. If it’s something you genuinely want to achieve, you’ll be more motivated to work towards it.

5. Time-Bound: Set a timeline for your goal. This creates a sense of urgency and can motivate you to get started.

Remember to celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. Each small win you achieve is a step towards overcoming depression and reclaiming your life.

6. Practice Mindfulness

woman sitting outside on a bench

Mindfulness involves staying present and fully engaged in the current moment. By focusing on the present moment, you can distance yourself from past regrets and future worries. You clear your mind of negative thoughts and distractions, allowing you to concentrate on your goals more effectively. This heightened focus and clarity can significantly increase your motivation, as you can better see the steps needed to achieve your goals and your progress toward them.

Practicing mindfulness can also help you better understand yourself and your experiences, fostering greater self-awareness and self-acceptance. As you become more in tune with your emotions and reactions, you become better equipped to manage the symptoms of depression and navigate life’s challenges.

Additionally, mindfulness can help you cultivate gratitude. As you focus on the present moment, you begin to appreciate the simple things in life. This shift in perspective can help you gain a more positive outlook and a renewed sense of hope and resilience.

Here are some tips to help you become more mindful:

  • Focus on Your Breath: Pay attention to your breath. Notice how it feels as you inhale and exhale. This can help you stay grounded in the present moment.
  • Be Non-Judgmental: Try to observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad. Simply acknowledge them and let them pass.
  • Practice Mindful Eating: Pay attention to your food’s taste, texture, and smell. This can enhance your enjoyment of the meal and help you stay present.
  • Take Mindful Breaks: Take a few moments to check in with yourself throughout the day. Notice how your body feels, what emotions you’re experiencing, and what thoughts are going through your mind.
  • Practice Mindful Movement: Activities like yoga and tai chi combine physical movement with mindfulness, providing a two-in-one benefit.
  • Use Mindfulness Apps: Many apps are available that provide guided mindfulness exercises. These can be an excellent tool for beginners.
  • Start Small: Begin with a few minutes of mindfulness practice daily. As you get more comfortable, you can gradually increase this time.

Remember, mindfulness is a skill; like any other skill, it takes practice. Be patient with yourself and keep at it. Over time, you’ll likely find that mindfulness becomes a natural part of your daily routine.

7. Seek Social Support

Social support can be a vital lifeline when you’re dealing with depression. Sharing your feelings and experiences with trusted friends and family members can provide emotional relief and a sense of being understood. Seeing your loved ones root for your recovery can be a powerful motivation booster, encouraging you to take positive steps toward overcoming depression.

Another invaluable source of strength and encouragement can come from support groups, either in person or online. These groups consist of individuals who are navigating similar experiences. Sharing your journey with others who truly understand what you’re going through can alleviate feelings of isolation. Furthermore, listening to others’ experiences and coping strategies can offer valuable insights and inspiration.

Remember that you don’t have to face depression alone – there are people who care about you and want to help.

8. Engage in Physical Activity

Physical activity is an incredibly effective tool for combating depression. The science behind this is quite fascinating. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These are known as the body’s natural “feel-good” hormones, which can alleviate symptoms of depression and boost your mood.

Studies have shown that regular physical activity can be as or even more effective as medication or psychotherapy for treating depression. Even a small amount of exercise can make a significant difference. So, how can you incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine?

Start small and gradually increase your activity level. This could be as simple as taking a daily 15-minute walk around your neighborhood. With consistency, your energy levels and motivation will improve!

Here are a few simple exercises to get you started:

  • Walking: Walking is a low-impact exercise that’s easy to start and can be done anywhere. Ask a friend or family member to join you in person or virtually.
  • Yoga: Yoga is a holistic practice that marries physical poses, mindful breathing, and meditative techniques. It’s not just an exercise; it’s a known stress buster and mood lifter that enhances your overall well-being.
  • Dancing: Dancing is a fun and enjoyable way to get moving. It can boost mood, improve coordination, and provide a great cardio workout. Put on your favorite happy music and let the rhythm of the music guide you.
  • Gardening: Gardening is a full-body workout that improves flexibility and strength while connecting you with nature. The sense of accomplishment from watching your plants flourish adds to its therapeutic benefits.
man watering plants

Remember to choose an activity that you enjoy. This will make it easier to stick with it and make it a regular part of your routine.

9. Use Visualization Techniques

Visualization, a technique often used in sports psychology and personal development, can be a potent weapon in the battle against depression. It involves creating a mental image of a desired outcome or goal, allowing you to ‘see’ the possibility of achieving it. This can help generate positive emotions, enhance self-belief, and boost motivation. By picturing yourself in a state of achievement or happiness, you can shift your mindset from despair to hope and determination.

Here are some steps for effective visualization:

1. Find a Quiet Place: Choose a quiet and comfortable spot to relax without disruptions.

2. Relax Your Mind and Body: Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths. Let go of any tension in your body and calm your mind.

3. Create a Positive Image: Imagine a scene representing your goal or a situation where you feel happy and motivated. You could be accomplishing a task, learning something new, or doing fun things with friends.

4. Engage Your Senses: Try to involve as many senses as possible in your visualization. What do you see, hear, feel, smell, or taste in this scene? The more detailed your visualization, the more effective it will be.

5. Feel the Emotion: Allow yourself to feel the positive emotions associated with the image. This could be a sense of achievement, happiness, or calm.

6. Practice Regularly: The more you practice visualization, the easier it will become and the more effective it will be. Try to set aside a few minutes each day for this practice.

Remember, visualization is not about denying the reality of your depression. Instead, it’s about painting a picture of a more positive future and using that image as a source of motivation to take steps toward it.

10. Practice Self-Compassion and Acknowledgment

Practicing self-compassion and acknowledgment is not about ignoring your struggles or pretending they don’t exist. Rather, it’s about embracing your humanity.

Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer a friend going through a tough time. It means acknowledging that everyone has difficult moments and that it’s okay not to be perfect. By practicing self-compassion, you create a safe space for your feelings and experiences, allowing them to be present without judgment or self-criticism.

Acknowledgment, on the other hand, involves recognizing your feelings and experiences for what they are. It’s about validating your depression and its impact on your life rather than denying or minimizing it. This can propel you towards acceptance and recovery, as it allows you to understand your condition better and take steps to manage it.

Consider the following suggestions:

  • Acknowledge Your Feelings: Instead of ignoring or pushing your feelings aside, acknowledge them. Recognize that your feelings are valid and it’s okay to feel the way you do.
  • Practice Mindful Self-Talk: Be aware of how you talk to yourself. Replace negative self-talk with positive phrases. Instead of saying, “I can’t do this,” say, “I can try my best.”
  • Forgive Yourself: Understand that everyone makes mistakes, and it’s a part of being human. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and learn from them.
  • Take a Self-Compassion Break: Whenever you find yourself stressed or overwhelmed, take a moment to comfort yourself in a caring and soothing way.
  • Write a Self-Compassion Letter: Write a letter to yourself about a situation that made you feel inadequate or bad about yourself. Use this letter to express understanding, kindness, and a willingness to accept yourself.

Remember, the journey towards self-compassion and acknowledgment is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a continuous process that unfolds over time. Be patient with yourself. There will be times of progress and times of struggle. Allow yourself time to learn and grow.

Final Thoughts

Depression is a battle, but it’s one that you can win. The strategies discussed in this article can serve as your arsenal, equipping you with the tools to combat depression and reignite your motivation.

Remember to start small. Recognize that every step you take, no matter how small, is progress. Each step signifies your courage and determination to overcome this challenging phase of your life. Even if it seems insignificant, each step is a testament to your resilience. Each step is a victory in its own right, a small battle won in the larger war against depression.

man standing on top of a rock

Remember, it’s okay to have off days. What matters is that you persist. Keep going because you’re stronger, braver, and more resilient than you realize. You’re not defined by your depression but by your courage to move forward despite it. There’s a light at the end of this tunnel, and you deserve to reach it. 

You are not alone in this fight, and with perseverance, resilience, and the proper support, you can overcome depression and reclaim your joy and zest for life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can depression make you have no motivation?

Lack of motivation is a common symptom of depression. When a person is depressed, they often find it difficult to muster the energy or enthusiasm to engage in activities they once enjoyed. This can manifest as a disinterest in hobbies, work, socializing, or even basic daily tasks. It’s as if the color has drained from life, leaving everything dull and uninteresting. This lack of motivation is not a personal failing or a sign of laziness but rather a direct result of the depressive state. It’s important to remember that this lack of motivation is temporary, treatable, and a symptom of the illness, not a character flaw.

How do you turn sadness into motivation?

Accept your sadness, and don’t push it away. Set small goals and reward yourself when you complete them, focus on helping others, be honest about your feelings, and reach out to people you trust – these are all ways to turn your sadness into motivation.

What should you do if you have no motivation to get up?

Start by creating a routine worth waking up for, with small rewards for yourself, and focus on what’s around you. Turn your light on right away, dress in something you feel good in, and don’t forget to set an alarm to something you enjoy. Surround yourself with people working on goals and have a pet to be accountable to. Finally, brighten up the room, turn on some music, and visualize successful moments and days. Doing all this will help to motivate and energize you.

What role does motivation play in overcoming depression?

Motivation provides direction, setting a clear path toward healing and better emotional health. It instills a sense of purpose, reminding individuals that they are more than their depression and that they have the power to reclaim their lives.

Interested in discovering more strategies and resources that can help you combat depression and boost your happiness? The a little dose of happy blog is packed with articles, tips, and insightful content designed to guide you on your journey to better mental health. Check it out today!

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