How to Get Motivated When You Are Depressed

March 7, 2022   •  Posted in: 

Finding the motivation to perform even the simplest tasks when you’re depressed can be challenging. However, it’s possible to take some positive, actionable steps to increase motivation even when you’re feeling low.

One of the most common symptoms of depression is a lack of drive to accomplish things you know you should. You may think, for example, you lack the motivation to exercise, spend time with friends, or complete that long-overdue assignment.

We also know that depression is a vicious cycle, and avoidance, solitude, self-criticism, perfectionism, and pessimism are common symptoms.


Here Are Ten Ways To Boost Motivation When You’re Depressed.

These simple steps can help you overcome your inertia and keep moving forward, even when you’re down.

1. Accept your feelings and don’t push them away

Many people who live with depression try to push their feelings away, hoping they will eventually disappear. However, it’s essential to accept your feelings and understand why you’re feeling them.

The more you try to fight, push away, or bury those unpleasant feelings, the worse you will feel in the long term. Not to mention, the longer you try to make those bad sensations go away, the more guilty and ashamed you will feel for having them in the first place. Because you’re forcing yourself to deal with these emotions for longer, it starts to take a toll on your mental and emotional health, as well.

Instead, allow yourself to be aware of the emotions you are currently experiencing. Feel them, accept them, and have faith they will pass quickly. If you feel like you need a good cry, let it out. If you need to get away and recharge your batteries, go ahead and do it! Because those emotions will fade away. Accepting your feelings can be one of the most challenging ways to deal with depression in the short term.

2. Stick to a routine

Depression and other mental health issues can flip your world inside out, leaving you feeling lost, afraid, unhappy, and confused. Creating a regular regimen can help you get direction and a sense of control. In addition, it serves as a reminder that you have a reason to keep going.

Whatever else is going on in your life, knowing you’ll be out for a walk at 10 a.m., eating lunch at 1 p.m., and going to bed at 10 p.m. can be reassuring.

When other things in your life are unpredictable, a routine can help you feel anchored, minimize stress, and help you cope with change. When you stick to a pattern, you prioritize self-care activities such as eating and sleeping on time, exercising, and resting, which many people overlook when life gets tough.

You can create a helpful routine comprising up to five activities you’d like to complete daily. Going to sleep and waking up at a consistent time, spending 20 minutes in nature, eating three meals at approximately the same times, and keeping a gratitude journal are just a few examples.

3. Practice self-compassion

Many people believe that being hard on themselves is key to becoming motivated. Unfortunately, the truth is, harsh self-criticism isn’t practical.

According to research, self-compassion is more motivating, especially when faced with adversity.

According to a 2011 study done by psychologists at the University of California, self-compassion promotes a drive to recover from failure.[1]

After failing a test, students who spoke respectfully to themselves spent more time studying. In addition, when they practiced self-acceptance, they also reported having more motivation to address their flaws.

4. Set achievable goals

Building and executing an effective plan requires greater cognitive control, so completing significant activities can feel overwhelming when you’re depressed. In addition, even though it seems far away, visualizing the end goal may be tough.

If you have a large project to finish, try not to visualize it as a whole. Consider dividing the large project down into smaller pieces instead.

Begin with a single, simple assignment. After that, go to the second, third, and so on.

By breaking down a significant job or activity into smaller, more manageable goals, you may be able to complete it more effectively.

Even if you don’t feel inspired or “in the mood,” it could be helpful to perform things you used to enjoy. For example, when you’re depressed, these things may not provide you with immediate delight or enjoyment, but they might nevertheless make you feel better.

5. Define your purpose

Make a list of clear goals for the next day, week, month, and year. Waiting for inspiration to appear is a common pitfall, leading to increased apathy and isolation. Passivity and loneliness are well-known contributors to depression.

Try to concentrate on essential goals or objectives. These goals or objectives could refer to your physical well-being, including exercise and healthier eating. It could entail creating a constructive support network, which could include or involve reaching out to others, formulating plans, and carrying them through.

It could also involve activities you have at work that are a part of your identity as a productive employee. Rather than asking yourself about your motivation, you should question yourself about your purpose or objective and then commit to taking actions to help you achieve those aims.

Begin by making a list of two goals for today, four for the week, and six for the month. Then keep track of your progress toward these objectives and remember you can achieve your goals with a solid plan.

6. Be kind to yourself and set rewards

Sure, some people work best under pressure. For example, maybe they are motivated by the knowledge their supervisor would be displeased if they don’t do the assignment on time. However, if you suffer from depression, this may not be you. Therefore, if you have poor motivation due to depression and know that stress and pressure don’t motivate you, avoiding them may be helpful.

Setting minor goals is the first step. Cleaning out your closet, for example, could be one of your objectives. If you succeed, reward yourself by making a favorite meal or watching an episode of your favorite television show. This method of tiny victories and rewards will assist you in regaining your motivation.

Gradually increase the complexity of the goals as you feel better. For example, go for a long run and treat yourself to a modest dessert. Accomplishing each new goal leads to a sense of growing accomplishment, a beautiful experience.

Stop and re-evaluate your expectations if you start to feel overwhelmed. Eventually, the aim may be more challenging, such as acquiring a new skill or trying something new. Experiment with several choices to see what works best.

7. Use positive self-talk to get moving

To get yourself moving, use positive self-talk. Self-critical thoughts frequently accompany depression. Recognize when you find yourself thinking negatively about yourself. Then put what you’re thinking to the test to see if it’s accurate. After that, think of a positive thought that is kind to yourself.

For instance, you might say to yourself, “I’m being so lazy today.” After you’ve acknowledged the thought, don’t let it drag you down. Instead, challenge it and replace it with a positive view, such as “I’m doing my best today, and that’s enough.”

One of the things people think when they’re depressed is that no one cares about them. If such a thought enters your mind, stop and make a note of the ways people you know have shown they care.

They might call to see how you’re doing, offer you special gifts on your birthday, send you hilarious memes, or listen to you when you’re angry. Once you’ve analyzed all that, replace the negative thought with something along the lines of “My family and friends love me, and they often show they care about me.”

8. Envision the way you’ll feel after the task

Suppose you focus on the effort involved in getting in the shower, going for a stroll, cooking dinner, or hanging out with a buddy. In that case, any task is likely to appear like a very daunting activity when you live with depression.

Depressed people have poor self-efficacy, which implies they have less faith in their capacity to complete things. As a result, individuals become overwhelmed and avoid completing such duties. Reduce your expectations for yourself throughout the task and focus on how you may feel afterward rather than how you might feel during.

It’s also a good idea to try and act as if you feel motivated.

By altering your behavior, you might deceive yourself into feeling driven. Act as if you’re motivated, and your actions may change your feelings.

Instead of waiting for inspiration to strike, get dressed and get moving. Go to the gym or just go for a walk around your neighborhood. You may discover that taking action boosts your motivation, making it more straightforward to keep going.

9. Create a support system

Depression can make you feel isolated – and want to be isolated. Isolation, on the other hand, might exacerbate depressive symptoms. While dealing with depression, surround yourself with a strong support network of friends and family. Joining a depression support group can help you maintain a therapeutic connection to people.

Having supportive relationships might also help you get the motivation for any treatment you require for depression.

With the support and affection of a solid network of friends and family, many of life’s obstacles — including dealing with depression — become simpler to tackle.

The hopelessness and helplessness that come with depression may make you feel as if you’ll never get better, but your loved ones can assist you in getting through the difficult times.

10. Talk to a mental health professional

Consult a licensed therapist or a psychiatrist to see if you require treatment for your depression. A healthcare provider can also help you work through your depression symptoms by giving you information and coping methods.

Talking about your mental health with someone you don’t know well might be intimidating, but most people find that speaking with a healthcare professional and receiving the treatment and support they need can make a huge difference in their lives.


Bottom line

Finding motivation when you’re depressed is often a very challenging task. Accept what you’re feeling right now instead. But, at the same time, understand you aren’t your emotions. Depression and frustration are feelings you may have, but they aren’t who you are.

Understanding the root of your depression is far more beneficial than attempting to “push through it.” Then concentrate on what you can do right now to develop a more empowering emotional state.

If you’re looking for help treating your depression, The Center • A Place of HOPE can provide inspired healthcare to restore your balance.

Start by taking our depression test to see whether you could benefit from a formal treatment program to help restore your wellbeing.

Our treatments are centered on the whole person care approach to recovery, and you’ll experience a program that’s specifically crafted for your unique needs.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help you restore your balance.


Dr. Gregory Jantz

Pioneering Whole Person Care over thirty years ago, Dr. Gregory Jantz is an innovator in the treatment of mental health. He is a best-selling author of over 45 books, and a go-to media authority on behavioral health afflictions, appearing on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN. Dr. Jantz leads a team of world-class, licensed, and...

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