5 ways to motivate yourself when you’re feeling down.


Motivation is a tricky beast. Without it, action is impossible; progress, improbable. Nothing much has happened in the history of the universe that didn’t start with motivation.

What’s particularly irksome is the major lack of motivation brought on by depression. It leads to lack of action, which leads to more passivity, which leads to deeper depression, and so on. The funeral dirge that never ends.

That’s why it’s a tricky beast. When we need it most, it tends to fail us.

But this isn’t entirely out of our control. Even when we’re feeling low, we don’t have to sink into submission. There are ways to help ourselves to help ourselves. Here are five ways to motivate yourself when you’re feeling down:

5. Be gentle.
All positive action starts with acceptance — acceptance of your current circumstances and state of mind. “Shoulding” all over yourself, or kicking your own ass for perceived failings is a one-way ticket to passivity. You’ll never get motivated that way. NEVER. Instead, be kind and gentle. Acknowledge your weaknesses, and don’t push yourself too hard. Allow yourself to feel bad, and analyze your options for action. Ask, what small step can you take towards feeling better?

4. Keep a mood log.
Down or depressed people tend to WAY underestimate the enjoyment they’ll derive from doing almost anything. At my lowest, I’m convinced that laying in bed or watching TV is the best it gets, and that getting up and going to the gym is a tiresome bore. Ass backwards. Nothing makes me feel worse than lying around, and getting active is ALWAYS a mood booster. When I write down how I feel before and after, I remember. Try this with all activities, and pretty quickly, you’ll realize that exercise, interacting with other people, doing productive stuff, etc. will generally always make you feel better. But without documentation, it’s easy to forget and fall back into irrationality.

3. Give yourself lots of back pats.
You got dressed and walked the dogs this morning? That deserves a medal. Seriously. Give yourself crazy props for every step you take, ‘cuz you deserve it. Depression and down moods are nasty business, and if you’re managing to function in even the itty bittiest of ways, you’re ahead of the game. I’d fist pump you if I could.

2. Turn off the TV and step away from the computer.
Ever see that Doctor Who episode when an alien was sucking people into TV land, leaving behind creepy, nebulous faced bodies? Yeah, that. Electronics tend to magnify a lack of motivation. TV becomes mind-numbing and the internet — a total time suck. Instead, pull those plugs and get some fresh air. Nature is a hell of an impetus for action. 

1. Ask your friends for help.
Sometimes, we need a patient person to pull us out of our own apathy. It’s so easy to get lost in the labyrinth of our own mind — external perspective is a must. Ask a trusted friend for help, support and a good-natured kick in the ass. Don’t pick your boot camp instructor bud though … stick with someone sensitive and understanding, yet persistent. You might turn down their invitations nine times out of ten, but that tenth time could make a world of difference.

That’s all from this happiness blog. Any others ways you motivate yourself when you’re feeling down? Feel free to lay ’em on me in the comments.

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4 Responses

  1. Deb says:

    Hannah, I just read your comment on LinkedIn. Thank you for sharing, as we share a past ‘diagnosis’ and now and a new attitude of happiness! Cheers to you! Deb

  2. Abigail says:

    Hi Guys
    Th’is so powerful , thanks for these empowering and encouraging words that keeps life ticking.:)
    keep the good work it does change some1’s life somewhere in this world

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