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Lack of motivation is one of the most common – and harmful – symptoms of depression. It’s common among almost all people who suffer from depression, and harmful because a lack of motivation can lead to further depression.
Think about it – depression makes you lack motivation, then you feel bad about ignoring school, work, or relationships. Then, that just makes you even sadder and depressed, leading to a further lack of motivation.
This cycle must be broken – and we’ve put together 3 of the simplest ways that you can break this cycle, and maintain your motivation even while you’re depressed.
Note: these are not “cures” or treatments for your depression – simply coping mechanisms. Please see a doctor or medical professional if you have clinical depression.
1. Just Do It!
This is a technique adopted from a common method used in Alcoholics Anonymous and many other recovery programs. As soon as you wake up, do something immediately! Do it with as much power, vigor, and concentration as you can. Write something, take a walk, go work out – anything you want.
Just don’t give yourself time to overthink it. By putting yourself in a situation where you have no choice but to complete a task as soon as you wake up, you can avoid the negative feedback loop that often causes lack of motivation.
Pro Tip: One thing I do when I am feeling less motivated is fooling the mind into doing ‘just a little bit‘. For instance, if I am in no mood to run, I will tell my mind, ‘Okay let me just walk around the block for 5 minutes’. Once I am done with the 5 minutes, I feel motivated to walk a bit more. Then before I know it, I am running, or have already walked for 30 minutes and covered 3 kilometers or more. Listening to motivational music or fitness music via Soundcloud etc. also helps a big deal. If you are working out at home, turn on the tv and watch a program that is about fitness, or athletics, or something like American Ninja Warrior. Even watching Rocky or Fight Club would help.
2. Think Positively
This may sound like a cliche, but it works. Thinking positive thoughts can help you push past your lack of motivation. Depression makes you fixate on the negatives – so think through positive aspects of your life.
Source: We Heart It
What are you good at? What do you love doing? What have you succeeded at? Consider writing these things down, and keeping them in an easily-accessible list (or put them in a Jar, called as the Jar of Awesome by Tim Ferriss).
When you are being worn down by your depression, pull out that list. Look at it, and realize that you’re still great – even if depression makes you think otherwise.
And as time goes on, you’ll see that you’re still adding to you list – despite your depression. It doesn’t have to beat you – if you don’t let it.
3. Seek Encouragement
Seek encouragement from friends, family members, or other loved ones. Often, depression fools us into thinking that our loved ones or families are disappointed in us, or think of us negatively. We see ourselves through our own perceptions – and when we are depressed and think we are a failure, we believe everyone sees us that way.
But they don’t. Chances are, your loved ones, coworkers, family, and friends think you’re awesome – and would love to tell you that. Open up to somebody close to you. Let them know that you’re struggling, and they’ll help you – not by flattering you or talking you up, but telling you the truth. You have value. You are loved. You are great.
Don’t want to talk to family and friends? No problem. Join Paralign – a community where you can interact with others anonymously. It is available on iTunes and the Google Play Store.
Depression is a constant struggle. But with proper medical and psychological care, a little bit of mindfulness, and these three techniques, you don’t have to let it take over your life. Once you get motivated, you’ll be surprised at how easily you can accomplish things that you did before you became depressed – and this can help you break the cycle of depression.