Depression is a very common mental health struggle. It's estimated that 6.2% (a whopping 16.2 million people) in the United States experienced a severe depressive episode in the year 2016 alone.
It can have many effects on the person dealing with it, and can come in short or long-lasting spans of time. It is very common for people suffering from depression to withdraw, and keep themselves away from the things and people they love. It eats away at your motivation, which in turn can promote the cycle of depressed feelings!
So how do we get out of that loop? A key ingredient is to set small, therefore manageable, tasks or goals. As you continue to meet these small goals, they will continue to build and eventually your larger goals will be reached! Below we will touch base on good jumping-off points to get you started.
Get out of bed and change your clothes.
The first step to having a positive day is to get out of bed. Some days it can be really hard to do, and I understand that! But it's important to also understand the natural effects that movement and blood flow have on your body, and your brain. Getting your blood pumping is important for your body to wake up at the beginning of the day, and changing clothes/showering will help refresh you. Even if you cannot muster the strength to wash your body, standing under the water will provide natural serotonin boosts that can help spark your small task-list.
Go for a walk/sit outside
Exercising releases endorphins, which are those feel-good hormones swimming around in your brain. If you can, working out for 35 minutes, 5 times a week can improve mild to moderate depression symptoms. If you have a busier schedule, or simply are not a 'working out' kind of person, going outside and sitting in the sun/soaking in the wind and smells can boost your endorphins! It can also help you clear your headspace so that you can make room for your goals.
Socialize/Create Support Network
Socialization is important, no matter what. Human beings are, at our core, pack animals. All forms of human beings need socialization to feel fulfilled, for gratification and to help feel better about life. Part of socializing, and filling your life with positive influences and experiences, is creating a healthy support network. These people can be family, friends, mentors - but it's important to have a team behind you to help you when things get tough!
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep, or lack-there-of, directly ties with your mental health. When you get an appropriate amount of sleep, you wake up more refreshed than when you went to bed, and ready to take on the day. Alternatively, getting too much sleep (or not enough sleep) can leave you groggy, disoriented, and unable to focus on your goals.
Stick to a Routine
Setting yourself up with a day-to-day routine can be extremely helpful in building motivation in yourself. Make yourself a daily to-do list, and check off each item as you complete it. Start off small, and make your task list specific to you. Brushed teeth? Combed hair? Put on deoderant? The physical performance of marking off the task helps to build positive reinforcement in your own capabilities, your sense of well-being, and can inspire you to aim higher each day.
Another great aspect of a routine is journaling. A journal is the perfect place to write out all your negative thoughts, dark headspace, unhappy feelings - and leave them locked away between the pages. Having a safe and healthy way to dispose of the negative helps you make room for the positive - and for the space necessary to pursue your goals.
Every article says this, and anyone who suffers from depression knows that 'avoiding negativity' isn't exactly a possibility. Sometimes, our brains are just negative! We can, however, know what negative things in our lives we can control. Things like social media time, talking to emotionally draining friends or family, or even revisiting upsetting past experiences - we know it's going to be negative, and we know it will impact our mood. Instead of letting these things impact your attitude and motivation, try to focus that time on feelings of positivity and gratitude. Read uplifting materials, talk to your best friends, and partake in the things that bring you joy.
Every day's to-do list doesn't have to be the same, it's about what works best for you. The same applies with the length of your list - do not pressure yourself, or be upset with yourself, if you only get a few things marked off. You should celebrate yourself for every task you achieve, no matter how small. Reminding yourself that you can and did do the thing on your list will boost your self-confidence and your sense of motivation!
Living with depression will have an effect on your motivation that is dependent upon the person experience it. Most often, people have a direct correlation between their levels of depression and their levels of motivation (higher depression, lower motivation). Taking small steps like the ones listed above will feel challenging at first, but as you continue to pile on experience, all those small achievements will build into a large achievement - and eventually, into getting your motivation back on track.