We all have those dips in motivation from time to time, even more so when we are experiencing depression. In fact, lack of motivation is one of the primary symptoms of depression.
A lot of times I hear from clients that the hardest thing for them is to find the motivation to practice their coping skills to overcome depression. Clients tell me that they know what will make them feel better and get them out of their depression, but they just struggle with the motivation to actually do it.
So how do we overcome depression and increase our motivation to do it?
The first thing to do is make our goals attainable.
Many of the coping skills or activities that we enjoy that would help us get out of depression are usually too big in our minds and burn us out before we even try it, or at least they FEEL that way when we are experiencing depression.
An example is going to the gym and working out. We may know that working out is a great healthy coping skill that will help us release endorphins and feel better. But the hurdle is getting ourselves to go out and do it.
It FEELS too big and we talk our self out of it because we are lacking the motivation.
So I suggest to make the goals smaller and more attainable to increase motivation do it. Start where you feel comfortable and where your motivation level is. For some that may be driving yourself out to the gym and for others we may need to start with a goal at home like getting out of bed. From our first step, we then make another small attainable step to get us closer and closer to our goal.
For the gym example, I would start off with putting on gym clothes.
From there put on your gym shoes.
Then go outside, then to your car, then for a drive to the gym, and before you know it you made it all the way to the gym and start working out!
This method will make it much more attainable and we get little success along the way that increase our motivation and decrease our depression.
The second most important thing to do to increase motivation is to not overthink it.
We know what will work to help us overcome the depression, sometimes we just have to do it even if we don’t have the motivation to.
With the gym example, we have to set the goals small and push ourselves to get it done. If we think about it too much and don’t start the forward motion, the depression will overtake our thoughts and we will end up talking ourselves out of it.
Another example I hear a lot from clients is the lack of motivation for social activity. They express how much they would like to go out and see friends and family and how it would make them feel better, but they continue to struggle with the motivation and overthink it and end up talking themselves out of it.
I recommend using the Nike saying and “Just do It!”
Don’t overthink it and start setting your small attainable goals to go visit the people that would make you feel better.
The third step to increasing motivation to overcome depression is to make it a routine.
I share with my clients that coping skills are great and can get us where we want to be, but just like any other reactionary plan, we need the practice and routine to make it efficient. That way our coping skills don’t fail us when we need them most.
Make our social visits, exercises, and other healthy coping skills a routine so it’s that much easier for us to rely on doing them to decrease depression, even when our motivation may be low.
Struggling with motivation is a common thing that we all experience at times. Having a guide to help manage and increase motivation is a helpful way to overcome depression.
It’s okay to seek support to help with this task. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed with the difficulty of increasing motivation, a therapist can help with some more additional tips and advisement, even with a one time consultation.