How to get the depressed mind motivated!
When we feel depressed, we feel deflated and de-energised and so it is natural to feel very demotivated, it can be a real challenge. Not only does depression affect the mind it also affects the body, leaving the sufferer feeling exhausted. You know there are things needed to be done, but somehow the will to carry them through doesn’t exist and even the small tasks seem to be too much to take on. To some, even getting out of bed, getting showered and dressed can all seem very challenging.
People who suffer from depression often avoid the activities that they used to enjoy and try to wait for the depression to end, or at least until they feel a little better. This also applies to carrying out simple tasks, the thought of waiting for the motivation and drive to return, but somehow it never does.
The answer to this is to ‘challenge’!. Although this sounds rather too simplistic, the reason why the low mood lingers on is because the challenge has been taken out of the equation. The depressed individual needs to confront the depression and challenge it head on. This doesn’t have to be a huge fight, gently challenging the small tasks can really help bring structure and meaning back into scope.
Small and realistic steps can be taken to confront the depression. There is no point setting a target too high, out of reach, because the journey of getting to the goal will be too much and more likely to fail. Set yourself smaller tasks, so that actually achieving them is more realistic.
So what goals can we set that are realistic and achievable?
- Plan out key points in your day
Set your alarm to go off at the same time each morning, helping establish a new routine, rather than stay in bed. Plan when you are going to eat so that you stick to your meals and don’t miss them out. If you have a new style phone, then there will be an alarm service on the calandar. use this feature to plan out your day and try your best to stick to this.
- For every thought there is an equal and opposite thought!
If you think that it is better to lay on the couch and watch daytime TV because it is easier to do so, then you can recognise that this may be feeding the depression. Think of the opposite thought, of not laying there and watching the TV, get up and do something different. trick your depression by doing something against the usual routine (or lack of one). If you would rather stay indoors than venture out ask yourself what is the negative thought about going out? Then think of the opposite thought, one that is more beneficial to you. Challenging negative thinking is a big part in overcoming the depression.
- Get out of bed, washed and dressed
This can be a challenge as depressed individuals may feel safe in the bedroom. They may not have slept too well and feel very lethargic. This is especially difficult in the winter months, when it may be still dark outside, and cold! Turn on a light and sit up, then gently swing your legs out of the covers. You can then make your bed which is a positive reinforcement to indicate that the bed has now served its purpose of providing restful sleep and that part is now over until the time when you retire in the evening.
Take a shower! Or simply have a quick wash in the basin. A shower in the morning can really revitalise you and help you relax. Do your hair and if you are a male, then have a shave. It can be easy to fall out of this routine so it needs to again, be challenged. It is a signal of getting ready for the day ahead.
Choose some clothes to wear and get dressed. All of the above steps are key in signalling to the mind that the nighttime is now over and the day has begun. Wearing your nightgown or pyjamas throughout the day is a reinforcement of the depressed feelings of just lounging around, waiting for something to happen.
- Go for a walk
It is key to get out and about, to sample the fresh air and to refresh your senses with new scenery. It can be very difficult to venture outdoors when you feel so low. the house can become a symbol of safety and comfort and again this has to be gently challenged. So decide to go for a walk, even if at first it is just around the corner and back. Try walking to the local shop if it is near by. It doesn’t have to be a trek. You can even drive somewhere and then get out and have a walk. Try to see if you can stay out longer than you anticipated.
Oh heck, there’s that word… However, even moderate to low exercise can really help lift the mood. Exercise releases our feel good hormones and although at first, you may not feel so much benefit, stick with it and not only will it help with the mood, it will also make you more active and fitter, helping your body to feel more energised. try walking or swimming or even cycling to begin with, these are all described as low impact activities and are easier on the joints.
- Pleasant activities
Write down a list of 5 pleasant activities that you know. These are activities that have given you pleasure in the past or the present. Shopping, visiting a friend, sewing, writing, painting, anything that has given you pleasure. Then write down 5 pleasant activities that you would like to try and that are new to you. Anything that you may have thought about and thought that it sounded interesting and pleasurable.
Then choose one of each and plan to carry out that activity as a personal goal. Don’t try too much too soon. Give it time. Plan to do one of these activities and stick to it. Again you could write it on the calendar or store it in your phone to remind you to carry it out. eventually, you can keep a record of your activities each week and monitor how you felt about each time you carried out one of those activities, scoring it from 0 to 10. 0 being no enjoyment and 10 meaning that you really enjoyed it. People often state that they got zero enjoyment from an activity, but in reflection, even if it was scored a 2 out of 10, then that is some enjoyment!
- Support network
If you have family and friends that are supportive then use them as an opportunity to get out and talk face to face, and have some human interaction. This is really good in improving the mood as it gets the depressed person out of the house. Set certain times and dates to meet up and try to stick to the schedule.
- Seek Therapy
This is an important part of the process of getting better. Psychotherapy helps the individual manage the symptoms of depression and is structured in its approach, helping the individual understand their problems and working through such things as, thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Quite often making decisions is difficult, so psychotherapy can help the person make more informed decisions based on the choices and options they have. Therapy can help the individual to manage and eventually, prevent their symptoms from returning. It can help with motivational issues in challenging certain behaviours by looking at deep underlying beliefs, often called ‘core beliefs’, about ourselves, others and the world around us.
It is important to take action and tackle these symptoms as soon as possible. Very often, people wait months or even years, trying to lift themselves out from the low mood. So, don’t delay. Your mood may be extremely low and you may feel lethargic and demotivated, but these are symptoms that can be challenged. Just talking about your problems with someone who understands your needs, can be extremely therapeutic and help to get things off your chest in a safe and understanding environment.
Depression can be challenged, managed, overcome and relapses prevented. You just need the tools and support to help you gently through the process.
Evolution Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy, Warrington, Cheshire.
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