Most of us take action because we believe it will bring about a concrete benefit or result in future happiness. These prospects are what motivate us. Clinical depression, however, can change your brain in a way that makes it difficult to experience a sense of pleasure or reward. When depression makes you unbearably sad, numb, or exhausted, you might not feel like there is a reason to do anything. If nothing has satisfied you lately, you might think, “What’s the point?”
Fortunately there are mental techniques and strategies you can employ to gradually regain the motivation needed to live a full life. Below are some strategies recommended to restore motivation during severe depression. Most of these solutions focus on incremental steps, so change is more manageable and easier to commit to.
Setting Up Small Goals and Rewards
When depression drains your motivation, you have to work to create new incentive to replace what existed naturally before your mental health deteriorated. This starts with setting small goals. Try setting up simple goals, for example the simple goal of going grocery shopping. If you succeed in that, reward yourself by cooking your favourite meal or watching an episode of the latest TV show. This process of small accomplishments and rewards will help restore your motivation.
As you begin to feel better, steadily increase the difficulty of the goals. Try going on a long run, for example, and rewarding yourself with a small dessert. Eventually the goal can be something as challenging as learning a new skill or traveling somewhere exciting that you haven’t been. Try different options and see what works.
Remember Your Life Before Depression
Before the depression set in, what did you enjoy doing? Write these items down as they come to mind. Then rank them in terms of what you are able to accomplish, from most to least difficult. Until you have more energy and motivation, it’s best to start with those you can easily complete. Then think about what steps you can take to get back into a routine that includes these tasks or activities.
In a similar vein, think about what motivated you before the depression. What inspired you? It could be anything from childhood to the present. Try to revisit those sources of motivation and get in touch with parts of yourself that might feel distant.
Examine Any Negative Self-Talk
Depression is often a subconscious voice that relentlessly tells you there is no point to anything so try examining and combating these negative, irrational thoughts. Once they rise to your consciousness, you will have more control of them. You can then gradually replace these thoughts with positive, rational beliefs. Tell yourself over and over again that there is a point, even if you don’t believe it immediately.
Look at External Factors
Sometimes external factors kill motivation and contribute to depression. Some common situations that might be killing your motivation may include: having partners, friends, or family members who abuse you, put you down, or don’t treat you with respect, abuse or bullying in the workplace and a debilitating health issue or chronic illness.
Think about whether one or more of these factors are present in your life. Then examine their effect on your ability to feel motivated.
Fighting Depression One Step at a Time
Rekindling motivation is one of the most crucial steps in fighting depression. You can supplement the effort by working with your EAP Assist counsellor and living a healthy lifestyle.