Writes, Kathryn Smith, Clinical Psychologist
Feeling unmotivated at the start of the year is a pretty normal feeling, especially when you had settled nicely into the relaxing pace of holiday season. Reality can bite even more than your sunburn when you walk back through the office door for the start of another working year. This is normal and to be expected, but if your motivation levels don’t return after a week or so and you are feeling persistently down and out, take some time to assess the cause for the way you are feeling. There are a number of reasons for lack of motivation, one of them is depression.
If you are finding that your level of motivation is directly related to how low your mood is, you might be experiencing depression. And as much as you might feel like sitting around doing nothing, this will only feed the beast. The best thing to do, as challenging as it may seem, is to get out of bed, get dressed and start the day. Set some small but reasonable goals and be kind to yourself in the process of achieving them. Over time, your motivation will grow and the small tasks that seem overwhelming will become easier, leaving you room to tackle more significant tasks. Some other suggestions for improving motivation levels when experiencing depression include:
1. Feed the positive and let go of the negative
Changing the way, you think about yourself, others and the world, to embrace a more positive outlook, will help you become more self-confident and motivated person. Recognizing when negative thoughts are entering your mind and knowing how to deflect them is an art worth learning. If you struggle with negative thoughts, psychologists and mental health professionals can teach the practice, known as managing negative self-talk.
2. Get regular exercise
Research the world over preaches the benefits of daily exercising for improving both physical and mental health. It will also help improve self-confidence and provides the opportunity to socialize. Most smart phones have a health app (a little red heart) that count your daily steps, this is a great way to motivate you to achieve your daily activity goals whilst holding you accountable when you’ve been in training for the couch surfing pro series.
3. Enlist the support of friends
Isolating yourself is definitely NOT the best medicine, despite how you might be feeling. Socialising with friends and letting them know how you are feeling will mean you are giving yourself the best support network to get over this slump and back on a more positive trajectory.
4. Reward yourself for defeating each small goal
It’s important to cut yourself some slack when overcoming a personal challenge like depression and rewarding yourself, even for the small feats, is a good place to start. Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend, you will end up liking yourself more than you thought you ever would.
5. Plan something to look forward to
Whether it be a mini-break a shopping spree or an overseas adventure, having something to look forward to, will go a long way in improving your motivation. Long term goals help you reach your short-term goals and get through the 9-5, in whatever form that may be.
6. Work on your sleep health
Getting adequate sleep can be difficult if you are feeling depressed but changing the way you think about sleep will help to change your behaviour towards sleep. For more advice on sleep, visit this page.
7. Get professional help
Getting professional help, should not be your last resort, your doctor and psychologist can form part of a helpful support network. If you feel your lack of motivation is affecting your daily life and you have seen no improvement in your mood, speak to your GP about a mental health plan.
If you like this article, you might also like: More than the back to work blues