How to Get Motivated When You're Depressed

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When you’re depressed, it can be hard to do anything. But it’s important to be active as possible. Here are 10 things to try to get you going:

1. Go for a walk. It doesn’t have to be long or far. But exercise is a good way to increase your energy level. And exercise releases hormones that make you feel good. If you can walk through a park or green space, the natural surroundings will also work to help lift your mood. 

2. Try some yoga. Yoga can be a gentle form of exercise. And to do yoga, you have to clear your head and focus on breathing. This can help you be more in the moment, and alleviate anxious feelings. Pilates and meditation can have similar effects.   

3. Make a date. Call a friend and find something you can do together. Being around other people might not sound appealing, but isolating yourself only feeds your depression. Companionship can be very therapeutic, even if nothing gets resolved. If you have to be somewhere at a certain time, it will help motivate you to get up and be ready. You can decide beforehand whether or not to discuss your situation.  

4. Reach out to family and friends. Talking to someone about your problems can help. A good way to start the conversation is to say, “I’ve been feeling sad lately and I think I might be depressed.” Choose someone you can trust who won’t dismiss your concerns, and will help you find things to laugh or smile about. 

5. Find a support group. It can also help to talk with people who have gone through similar experiences. Ask your doctor for help finding a support group, or search for one online. Members often share coping skills and practical solutions that worked for them, and that shared information could help you, too. 

6. Eat a healthful snack. You might not feel like eating when you’re depressed, or you might only feel like having comfort foods like ice cream and pasta. Instead, try a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts. Healthier foods could give you more of sustained energy to get up and go.

7. Be creative. Think about what you liked to do before you were depressed and not motivated. Paint? Draw? Write? Sew? Dance? Take photographs? Try to get your creative juices flowing again. 

8. Write about it. Put your thoughts on paper or on a file on your computer. Writing can help you identify the cause of your depression. It’s also a chance for positive self-talk. Looking back over your entries can help you feel better and get you motivated. 

9.  Laugh a little. Watch a funny movie. Read the comics. Find a comedian you like on YouTube. Laughter is great medicine. It might just be the motivation you need. 

10. Take small steps. Don’t try to change everything all at once. If the task is too big, it will be overwhelming. Break things into small steps. Start with getting out of bed by 9 a.m. Then pick a chore that needs to be done. Write down your short-term goals and check them off. It will make it easier to be inspired to do more.

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    Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
    Last Review Date: 2018 Aug 10

    1. Depression. Mind Your Head.

    2. What Helps depression get better? TeensHealth from Nemours. 

    3. Finding Treatment. Freedom from Fear.

    4. Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress. Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

    5. 5 Ways to Help Yourself Through Depression. TeensHealth from Nemours.

    6. Journaling for Mental Health. University of Rochester Medical Center.

    7. Laughter is the Best Medicine.

    8. Recovery Steps. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.

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