11 Effective Ways to Boost Motivation While Depressed

11 Effective Ways to Boost Motivation While Depressed

Lack of motivation is a symptom of depression, though it can have other causes. Treatment, along with some practices, may help improve your motivation.

Depression can cause a lack of motivation, but medications and other health conditions, such as ADHD, can also contribute. For example, you may lack motivation if you’re having difficulty coping with an issue in your life or experiencing something that affects your self-confidence.

Symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe. They can be chronic, or they can occur as one-time episodes caused by traumatic life events such as a death or illness in the family, the ending of a marriage, financial difficulty, or other disruptions.

If depression is responsible for your lack of motivation, you may find that your level of motivation is directly related to how depressed you’re feeling. If you or a loved one is feeling a lack of motivation due to depression, there are ways to help improve the situation.

It may seem hard at first, but persistence will help feed the growing sense of motivation, and you may find that over time it becomes easier to get up and do things.

Here are some suggestions to get you started.

1. Set small, manageable goals

If the thought of doing anything seems overwhelming, start small. Focus on one goal at a time, and try to block out thoughts about what comes after. As you meet these goals, you can start adding more as you achieve them.

2. Get out of bed and out of pajamas

The simple act of getting up is a good first victory of the day. If you anticipate this being difficult, try leaving a few sticky notes with positive affirmations where you can see them, such as:

  • “Yes, you can do it.”
  • “Every long journey starts with one step.”
  • “Never give up!”
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Your brain digests whatever thoughts you create, so you can try feeding it positive ones.

3. Go for a walk

Exercise helps your body release endorphins, a group of mood-boosting hormones. Exercising for at least 35 minutes daily for 5 days a week can improve symptoms of mild to moderate depression. It may also help treat more severe forms of depression.

4. Immerse yourself in nature

Exposure to nature may have a positive impact on feelings of depression, according to a review of research. You can take a walk, sit outside, or engage in an outdoor hobby, like gardening.

5. Don’t overschedule

Congratulate yourself for every task or goal you complete, no matter how small.

If you can only accomplish one or two tasks, that’s fine. That will help improve your confidence and sense of motivation.

6. Avoid negativity

Reading the news or “doomscrolling” on social media, talking with people who leave you feeling drained and negative, or revisiting sad topics — these activities can all impact your mood and motivation.

Instead, focus on reading uplifting content and try to surround yourself with people you feel good spending time with.

7. Stick to a routine

The sense of having accomplished daily tasks can promote well-being.

Write down your routine, stick it on the wall or somewhere you will see it, and use check marks when you’ve completed tasks. Accomplishing things on your list may inspire you to aim higher each day.

You could also keep a journal as part of your routine. Journals are a good place to dispose of negative thoughts and make room for the positive.

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8. Socialize

Choose positive relationships and encourage people to socialize with you when you feel up for it. Having a strong support network is one of the best ways to protect against and mitigate depression.

If you’re far from loved ones, volunteering can be a great way to reap the benefitsTrusted Source of social connectedness and motivate yourself with a sense of purpose.

9. Create a support network

Have a support network on standby for when your motivation runs out and you feel overwhelmed. Choose people you feel comfortable talking with and who can help provide encouragement.

10. Improve your gut health

Having a healthy gut may help support your mental health because your gut and brain can affect each other.

Eating a nutritious diet that’s rich in prebiotics and probiotics can help support your digestive health. Bacteria found in fermented foodsTrusted Source, such as yogurt, can also enhance moodsTrusted Source by reducing anxiety and potentially improving symptoms of depression.

11. Get enough sleep

Depression can be physically draining. Sleeping too much or too little affects your mood. Aim for 8 hours a night.

When to seek help

If your mood and motivation don’t improve, it’s best to talk with a doctor. If you’re already taking medication, the doctor may reassess your treatment.

Treatment for depression might include a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Medications may include:

  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs)
  • tricyclic antidepressants
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors

Some antidepressants might increase your risk of suicidal thoughts.


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