beat depression with fun

Motivation often comes after you've already started 

Motivation often comes after you've already started 

When we feel down, depressed, or lack self-esteem, we often don’t feel like doing anything.  Lack of motivation, difficulty getting started and loss of pleasure are common symptoms of depression.  It’s a catch 22 -  The less we do; the less we feel like doing; the more depressed we feel.  Yet a simple fact is that getting out to do something pleasant, fun or enjoyable often makes us feel a bit better, even just for a short while.    

But how do we do anything if we don’t have the motivation to do it?

There’s a common misconception that we need motivation to do something. The truth is, it is often the opposite - We have to do something in order to get the engines moving to spark motivation.

Just like our thoughts can spiral downwards when we’re depressed, they can also spiral upwards when we engage in activity that lifts our mood.    Getting started is the typically the hardest part.   To make it a bit easier, ask yourself,

What do I feel like I can actually do in this moment”  or  “What can I do today that will make today better than yesterday?”.

Start with something small and whatever you choose, scale it back a bit.  For example, if you feel like you can go on a walk, ask yourself for how long.  If 20-minutes pops up, plan on going for only 15-minutes.   The idea is to set yourself small, achievable goals that won’t overwhelm you. 

Once you accomplish a small goal, more positive thoughts and feelings follow, although they may only be a glimmer if depression has taken hold. 

Sometimes when we’re feeling down, it can be hard to think clearly and you may be unable to think of anything pleasurable to do.   To bypass this hurdle, here is a list of 100 examples of pleasurable activities.  Some of these will resonate with you, others will not.

How to use the list

  1. Simply note the things on the list that have been pleasurable to you in the past or seem like they might be now.
  2. Choose a few you think you are able to do.
  3. Think of the time frame you think you can do it for, then scale it back (If 20 minutes, plan on 15). 
  4. Commit to when you can do the activity.
  5. Then, just do it, remembering that motivation generally comes after we have started, not before! 

It really doesn’t matter what - just do something.  Waiting until you “feel like it” doesn’t work, because the inactivity only makes you feel worse.

by Lydia Rigano