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6 Tips To Get Motivated When You're Feeling Depressed

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6 Tips To Get Motivated When You're Feeling

MARCH 23, 2014 5:00 AM EDT

A common response to identifying lifestyle changes that might make a depressed person
feel better is, Easier said than done. Someone coping with depression may get what she's
supposed to do, but the question is how? After all, depression kills motivation, energy,
interest, and focus.

Once you give the engine a jump, it often becomes easier, but until then, how do you
connect the jumper cables you need to make a spark?

1. Set the bar LOW.

When youre depressed, youre not functioning at your usual 70-90%. Rather, youre sitting
somewhere closer to 20%. If you set the same expectations for yourself that you had when
you werent feeling depressed (which is sometimes just getting dressed), youre going to feel
anxious and overwhelmed, and probably wont do the task you expected from yourself (and
thus will feel defeated and ashamed).

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6 Tips To Get Motivated When You're Feeling Depressed

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Set SMALL AND SPECIFIC GOALS. Seriously. Unload the dishwasher. Heck, unload three
glasses. Task completed and still itching for more? You can always raise the bar if youre
feeling particularly motivated. Take note that if you feel highly overwhelmed while tackling
your goal, chances are it's too high and you need to lower it to something more realistic or

2. Practice self-compassion.

Self-criticism is depressions BFF. If you beat yourself up for being so unproductive and
lazy, Youre going to keep yourself feeling like crap and thus, paralyzed. Try instead to use
the same encouraging words you might use for a friend or loved one. If you cant nd the
words, read more about self-compassion here <> .

3. Recruit support, or ask for help.

Some of us have trouble holding ourselves accountable at the best of times. With little
motivation or energy, its that much harder. Conde in someone you trust, and ask for their
help. Ask a friend to hold you to your commitment. Ask your partner to accompany to a
yoga class. Pay for your support group, counseling appointment, or massage beforehand
so youll be more motivated to attend.

4. Envision how you'll feel after the task.

Getting in the shower, going for a walk, preparing a meal, or hanging out with a friend
seems like a very ominous task if you focus on the eort involved. People who are
depressed generally have low self-ecacy <> ,
which means they have low condence in their ability to perform tasks. As such, they tend to
feel overwhelmed and avoid such tasks. Lower expectations for yourself within the task, and
envision how you (might) feel after the task rather than during.

5. Make the goal to do it, not to enjoy it.

When youre feeling depressed, its natural to lose interest in things that used to make you
happy. Comedy is no longer funny, sports are no longer fun, spending time with friends is
no longer engaging. Anxiety, depression, and self-loathing take over, leading to feelings of
detachment and defeat. So, when doing something fun or active, do it with the goal to do
it, not to enjoy it.

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6. Acknowledge your courage for stepping out of your comfort zone.

As painful as it is, depression can be come comfortable in a devil you know kind of way.
You know what to expect, for the most part. You know the pain, youre in the pain, you can
predict that tomorrow will be more of the same. The idea of stepping out of this comfort
zone can be quite anxiety provoking. Steven Hayes <> , a
psychologist whose work I admire said, If you keep doing what youve always done, youre
always going to get what youve always gotten. So, if you nd youre able to do something
(even very slightly) dierent, congratulate yourself. Theres a good chance whatever youre
experiencing will come with anxiety, because anxiety accompanies uncertainty. Anxiety may
be telling you youre stepping out of the familiar routine of depression, so acknowledge your
courage and try to bring such experiences forward in your journey.

Photo Credit: <>

To learn more about happiness, check out our video course How To Create More
Happiness & Meaning In Your Life.


Megan Bruneau
Megan Bruneau, M.A. RCC is a psychotherapist, blogger
<> , and lover of sport and satire in Vancouver, Canada.
Previously involved in personal training and yoga industries, she weaves Buddhist
philosophy into her holistic approach to psychotherapy. Her articles focus on universal
human struggles and the benets of self-compassion--topics she draws from themes she
sees in the counselling room and in her own life.
When she's not counselling, writing, or doing nothing, you can nd her playing soccer and
tennis, skiing and snowboarding, and trying to use her perpetually wet socks to practice
tolerance and gratitude for feeling.
Read more from Megan on her blog:
<> is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice,

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diagnosis, or treatment. All content and images found on may not be reproduced or
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