Depression is a common mental disorder. It is estimated that in the United States, 16.2 million adults, roughly 6.7% of the population, experienced at least one significant depression symptom in 2016. Symptoms of depression can range from severe to mild, and can even be chronic at times. After all, depression kills motivation, energy, interest, and focus. For some depressed people, life is a dark place filled with pain, insecurity, and hopelessness. Depressed people do not get motivated. Is motivation impossible for them? Definitely not. You only have to find a process that works for you.
Depression and Motivation
When there is a lack of motivation, you may reach a state of depression. But the primary cause of depression may be something else. For example, you may lack motivation if you are facing difficulty coping with a problem in your life. Or you are experiencing a situation which affects your self-confidence. If there is a lack of motivation due to depression, there are ways to help improve the situation. It may seem hard initially, but persistence will help your sense of motivation to grow, and you will start feeling better.
Tips for Boosting Motivation
Set small, attainable, and manageable goals. As you start meeting these goals, you can begin raising your bar until you ultimately achieve all of your goals. There could be several suggestions to get you started/motivated. Let’s look at some steps that can help you break an episode or a cycle of depression.
1. Set the bar LOW.
When you are depressed, you are not functioning at your usual 70% to 90% instead, you function at only 20%. Set small and specific goals for yourself so that you can complete the task and move on to the next one. Once you complete the task, you can always raise the bar when you are feeling motivated. If you feel highly overwhelmed while dealing with your goals, try to set goals which are more realistic and achievable.
2. Practice self-compassion.
If we practice self-compassion to overcome our depression, then things will likely get better. Self-criticism makes a person experience feelings of unworthiness, failure, inferiority, and guilt. With self-compassion, you mindfully accept that you are depressed This practice gives yourself the support and comfort needed to overcome depression while providing room for transformation. And if we at times feel overwhelmed by difficult emotions while being in a state of depression, the most self-compassionate response should be to pull back temporarily. We can always later engage in ordinary acts of self-care such as having a hot cup of coffee or tea.
3. See family and friends.
This one is more about meeting the person rather than the activity of socializing. Choose people you feel comfortable talking to and who can help encourage you. Being around other people is often helpful for getting motivated and improving your mood. Schedule get-together with close friends and family members outside of the house. The more you try to isolate yourself from a depressive environment (the home and bedroom), the better the chance of overcoming depression. Ask someone close to you to accompany you to a yoga class or to go shopping.
4. Opposite action.
In Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy one should practice Opposite Action. It is the idea of compelling yourself to do something that you know is beneficial for you, to prevent the reinforcement of a bad action. For example, if you want to stay in bed and watch TV all day, even though you realize this only gives in to depression, the Opposite Action would be to get up and go out. This choice would be a healthier behavior helping you to change your mood. In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – the principle is that your own behaviors can create positive changes in your emotions.
5. Set a goal to do it, not to enjoy it.
When you are feeling depressed, it is natural to lose interest in things that usually make you happy. Spending time with friends might no longer be engaging; comedy shows are no longer funny; sports are no longer fun. When in depression, anxiety and self-hatred take over, leading to feelings of defeat and detachment. So, when you are doing something “fun” do it with the purpose to do it and complete it.
6. Choose on exercise.
Exercise is not a cure for any mental illness, but it helps a lot of people. Exercises of any type could make a huge difference.
“Just getting activated, behaviorally, is a useful treatment for depression,” says Nicholas Forand, assistant professor of psychiatry at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell Health.
Forand also tells me that aerobic exercise has been shown to help people with depression feel better.
7. See the big picture.
Often you might lack motivation when you can not see what you are doing. Creating motivation when you are feeling depressed can be one of the most challenging things. Ask yourself a few questions: Why am I depressed? Where am I heading? What do I do to overcome depression? Finding an answer to these questions can help you to gain clarity about your depression, focus your energy and propel you into action.
It’s important to note that the desire to stay indoors and stay in bed isn’t what causes depression. In fact, this behavior is a symptom of depression. Psychotherapy is a necessary step in the process of dealing with depression in order to reduce the severity, prevent further episodes, and finally getting rid of depression altogether. You need to resolve both the motivational issues as well as the internal issues that are causing the distress. If the underlying problems are not addressed completely, depression may return once your motivation drops.
There is a solution
Using the opposite action should be the first step to conquer depression — knowing that it will be useful for you to take these steps to move forward. If you engage in psychotherapy, you will be able to focus on what is happening inside of you. You do have the willpower to increase your motivation and to break out of depression. It may take some extra effort and effort, but the opportunity is there for you to reclaim your life.