Perhaps one of the most frustrating symptoms of depression is lack of motivation. You want to thrive at work, go after your personal goals, and take care of your health, but this is difficult for emotionally healthy people, let alone someone with depression. You might look at your to-do list in the morning, and have to actively fight the desire to crawl back into bed. Yet when you do this, you may be consumed with feelings of self-hatred and worthlessness. What used to be very easy for you now feels like an insurmountable task, so how exactly are you supposed to get everything done that you need to?
Don’t Feed the Depression
You can’t help being depressed—up to a point. Sure the genetic and circumstantial factors that cause your depression are out of your control. Sometimes, you are just going to have depressive symptoms, and that’s okay. What you do have control over is how much you feed your negative thoughts. When you realize you are having depressed thoughts, challenge them immediately and replace them with a more positive idea. For example:
- Negative Thought: “I will never be able to get all of this stuff done. I am useless.”
- Replacement Thought: “One thing at a time. I will complete the first task on my to-do list and go from there.”
People with depression often struggle with ruminating, or focusing obsessively on certain thoughts. They may turn their regrets over and over again in their head, or worry nonstop about an upcoming event. One of the most powerful things a person with depression can focus on is living in the moment. If you are finding yourself consumed with depressive thoughts, take a moment to tap into your current environment. You might try the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique:
- LOOK: Identify five things you can see around you.
- FEEL: Pinpoint four things you can feel.
- LISTEN: Listen for three sounds.
- SMELL: Find two things you can smell.
- TASTE: Say out loud one thing you can taste.
Tapping into your five senses like this draws you back into the present moment.
Incorporate a Workout
You know that working out is necessary for your physical health, but you may not realize the profound impact it can have on your mental health. If you are struggling to get your work done, it may help to fit a workout in to refresh your mind and give yourself some of those sweet endorphins as a natural mood booster. Exercise makes you feel happier, more focused, and less stressed, so get more done by prioritizing a daily workout.
Let Go of Perfectionism
“Now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” – John Steinbeck
Perfectionism prevents us from living up to our full potential. It’s impossible to be perfect, which paralyzes us and makes it all the more difficult to do anything. If you let go of the need to be perfect, you can be good. It’s better to get something done and have it not be perfect than to not do it at all because it can’t be.
If you are feeling depressed and need help, contact New Transitions Counseling Center in Palatine for cognitive behavioral therapy.