Motivation is an elusive concept for many people. Despite having big dreams or desiring to accomplish a particular goal, taking the steps necessary to reach the end objective can seem impossible. Sometimes just completing the bare minimum feels like all you can do. Forget the idea of accomplishing anything greater.
This is especially true if you suffer from anxiety or depression. These mental health conditions zap the energy, happiness and sheer will from from your core.
You may find yourself feeling unable to accomplish even the basics of day to day living, let alone going above and beyond.
If you have been diagnosed with these issues, or feel that you may be dealing with them, the most important aspect of overcoming their toxic effects is to seek help.
Therapy and medication have shown to be effective in treating anxiety and depression, but even these powerful components may not be enough to move you toward your goals. However, there are some strategies you can take to increase your motivation even when anxious or depressed.
Let’s explore some tangible ways to help you move past survival mode.
Do It for Someone Else
While personal goals generally need to come from within in order to be meaningful, anxiety and depression can make generating any kind of internal feeling beyond despair difficult. Intrinsic motivation, or the kind that comes from inside you, simply may not be something you can muster right now.
One way to “trick” yourself into becoming motivated is to think of ways your goal may benefit others. For example, if you’re having trouble just getting out of bed, it may help to think of those who depend on you for their care. Whether it’s a child, a pet or even a houseplant, the desire to complete the basic necessities for those you love may be enough motivation for now.
This approach can be applied other aspects of your life also. While it shouldn’t be a long-term solution, it can sometimes be enough to get you moving and lead to fueling further motivation.
Outsource Dreaded Tasks
Deferring your most-dreaded tasks onto someone else may be especially effective for those dealing with anxiety.
Many anxiety sufferers fear talking on the phone. If possible, request that a significant other or friend make important phone calls on your behalf. You don’t have to put yourself through unnecessary stress in every situation. Some things can be outsourced in order to make everything else more manageable.
If finances allow, you can pay professionals to bear certain loads for you. Otherwise, some creativity may be in order. The relief you’ll experience is worth the initial expenditure of energy required to generate creative outsourcing solutions.
Do the Fun Stuff First
Many life coaches or other experts will recommend that you tackle the tough or boring items on your list first in order to get them out of the way. The theory is that you’ll feel more accomplished, and finishing the rest of your project or goal will be easier.
When you have depression or anxiety, this approach is unrealistic. Depending on the severity of your condition, simply making any forward movement on a task is asking a lot of you. Therefore, turn the advice upside down and start with the easiest part first.
Another way to look at things is to do the absolute bare minimum or smallest part first. Need to tidy your room? Just clear the bedside table. Or, set a timer for just 5 minutes and promise yourself a break after.
Once you’ve summoned the motivation to just get started in some way, continuing on will be a more likely prospect.
Be Gentle With Yourself
If you were helping a friend in your situation, you’d likely have all the compassion in the world for them. You’d probably offer words of encouragement for the small achievements your pal made and be there to take up some slack when they’re feeling unable. In order to foster motivation, you absolutely must show yourself this same level of compassion. Reward or praise yourself for every small accomplishment.
This can be taking a break to watch your favourite show or purchasing an indulgence like a bottle of perfume. Even praising yourself for your efforts can be effective. Along that same vein, be sure not to chastise yourself for perceived faults. Instead, focus on what you were able to get done or remind yourself that you are currently facing some tough obstacles and you’re doing your best. Negative self-talk is self-sabotage and kills motivation.
Incorporating these steps into your daily routine can significantly increase your motivation, despite anxiety and depression. Your mental health issues are a challenge, but they don’t need to be the end of your dreams.