How To Get Motivated When You Struggle With Anxiety – Even When Nobody Around You ‘Gets It’…
When you struggle with doing any of your daily habits because your mental health is getting in the way it can be difficult to do even the simplest of things.
You know, like getting out of bed, taking a shower, even just mustering up the energy to brush your teeth can be a drag.
Trust me – I get it.
Finding the energy, joy, and motivation when you struggle with anxiety can seem like a job on its own – and if you’re a mom, employee, run your business, or do any other ‘life stuff’ the weight on your mind and body can get mighty heavy.
But, you’ll be glad to know, through a little bit of determination, understanding a few key concepts, and a little bit of simplicity you can start to unlock those shackles, lift the weight of depression off your shoulders and start hitting your days with more purpose.
How To Get Motivated When You Struggle With Anxiety & Depression
I understand all too well what it’s like to have a long list of to-do things, but then depression prevents any of that stuff from happening.
It's very hard to get motivated when you struggle with anxiety and depression.
I’ve gotten so used to being in survival mode that I forgot how to push myself to get things done and be productive.
If you know this feeling and are struggling to find the motivation to start doing things again, I’m here to tell you that all hope is not lost.
Your anxiety and/or depression has had too much control over your mind.
And anyone out there who is telling you to just get over it and do something about it has never been where you are right now.
I’ve realized the hardest part about having a mental illness is that nobody really gets it, unless they’ve been there before.
And I want you to know that nothing is wrong with you or how you’re feeling. It’s honestly very normal to have anxiety and depression. (My doctor said it's the second most common thing her patients struggle with, next to weight loss and dieting.)
It’s just that a lot of people don’t want to talk about it. They may feel embarrassed or deny they have it.
So, I want you to take all of this pressure off of yourself. Stop thinking you just need to be doing more than you are right now. Stop thinking you need to just be stronger. And stop thinking you have to fight your mindset by forcing yourself to do things you hate.
These things will only make it worse.
Trying to fight anxiety or push it away doesn't help
When you fight or hide your anxiety, it's a temporary solution. You might feel ok for a little bit, but it always comes back with a vengeance.
Before I go into this list, I want to recommend talking to your doctor or finding a therapist if you’re finding it hard to function. Dealing with Clinical Depression or Generalized Anxiety Disorder can make trying anything new feel impossible.
That's why I suggest talking to professionals to get to a point where you're mentally ready to move forward. It’s totally possible to manage both of these and actually get out of depression.
But, if you’re in the middle of struggling, the tips below might not be helpful enough. I’m saying this from experience. I was in a deep depression for a long time, and nothing worked.
Even setting small goals didn’t help.
It wasn’t until I finally talked to my doctor and started taking anti-depressants that I actually felt ok enough to work on other things. I'm not saying that's what you should do, because everyone is different. But if you're struggling, don't hesitate to seek help from a therapist.
Talking to someone who has experience can help put you on the right track
I don’t want you to suffer. It’s why I always suggest focusing on that first and then moving forward. Remember, there is affordable online counseling available to you, which you can access from home at any time.
This post is for you if you are pulling yourself out of depression but are finding it hard to motivate yourself to start doing things again.
It's for you if you’re feeling ok enough to try things, but you’re still in the habits you created when you were anxious, depressed, and in survival mode.
So, this blog post is about slowly pulling you out of survival mode and helping you get back on track to start pursuing your goals.
This post will teach you how to take baby steps to find your motivation when you struggle with anxiety and depression. You don't want to overwhelm yourself with too many things at once.
How do Baby Steps Help?
Taking baby steps towards your goals ensures that you stick to them in the long run.
Usually, when we set goals, we end up setting multiple goals and want to make a huge change all at once. Like start working out every day, eat healthy foods, stop drinking anything but water, write in a journal, etc.
These are all great goals, but the problem is trying to do way too much at once.
Each goal requires setting a habit, and it takes about a month to do that. Even after that it still requires consistency to maintain it.
When we set goals, we typically set big ones that are hard to accomplish. And we expect our whole lives to change within a day.
This might work for a few days or a week, but then it becomes way too hard to keep up with. You’re trying to change everything ingrained in your brain and set new habits all at once.
And if you've been in survival mode just trying to get through the day without having a panic attack, setting multiple goals at once is a lot of work.
This takes a tremendous amount of willpower, that even the strongest people sometimes can’t do.
So, that’s why baby steps are the way to go. They help you stick to your goals and make it easier to follow every day.
It also takes some of the pressure off you. When we set unrealistic goals, we put way too much pressure on ourselves. This just makes the whole process very unenjoyable. But baby steps actually make setting and achieving goals a fun process. You get to focus on one goal at a time and eventually master it.
This way you can add in more self-care goals and slowly change your lifestyle for the better.
Start with One Goal
Think about all the things you want to start doing to add to your daily routine.
You can even write down a list of all your goals. Then go through and number each goal. Number one being the first one you want to start with.
Starting with your biggest goal is a good idea because it's most likely the one you think about most of the time.
When you can start doing this thing daily, you'll quickly start to feel much better about each day. This helps motivate you to keep going. After this one becomes a habit, you can then focus on the next item on the list.
Carve out the Same Time Every Day
To develop a habit, doing it at the same time every day will help it stick. Your internal clock will start to know when to work on it.
- Figure out what time of day works best for your schedule.
If you want to start working out, it might be best for you to set a time in the morning before your day starts.
I’ve personally found working out later in the day a challenge. There are more things to distract me and a lot of things tend to come up later in the day.
But, if you enjoy doing things later in the day then just find a time that works best for you. The goal is to find the best time that helps you do it every day consistently.
Start with Just 5 Minutes
If your goal requires you to set aside time daily to focus on it (like working out or practicing a hobby), start with just 5 minutes.
You can set a timer on your phone and accomplish your goal quickly. If you think about it, 5 minutes is nothing! That makes it super easy to do.
Doing this daily is doable, no matter how you’re feeling. Figure out a specific time of day where you can commit 5 minutes to your goal.
The nice part about it only being 5 minutes at first, is you may even look forward to doing it because it won’t take that long. It sets you up for a quick win.
For the first few weeks or months, you can keep it at 5 minutes. Then, you can start to increase it by 5 minutes a week or a month. When this becomes a habit, you can increase it again.
If your goal doesn't involve a time limit, like saving money, then you can focus on adding money daily into a piggy bank. You can start with $1 or $5 a day.
You can start cutting out expenses, like going to Starbucks or buying lunch daily. Then you can use that money saved towards your savings account.
No matter what your goal is, just remember to start very small. You want it to be very possible to do it no matter what. Experiencing these daily small daily successes helps you buid confidence to keep trying more.
Make a Commitment
You know deep down inside of you that you want to make a change. I know it, too!
If you’re pulling yourself out of depression or dealing with anxiety, then you’re facing a bigger challenge than others who don’t have to go through that.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible though. And, these baby steps will help get you out of the rut that you’re in and move you forward.
Starting with just 5 minutes a day is doable. A good tip that helps me is whenever I hear my reminder go off on my phone, I immediately stop whatever I’m doing and focus on my goal.
I also set a timer for 5 minutes so that I can quickly get it done.
Don't Overthink It
A big piece to all of this is to not overthink it. It's easy to convince yourself that nothing matters and to just stay sitting on the couch. This is a habit that your brain becomes very accustomed to.
The nice part is that you can change that habit and grow a new one that is engrained into your brain. The whole point of taking baby steps is to slowly phase out the bad habits and replace them with better ones.
Trying to change your whole lifestyle in one day just isn’t sustainable. Not when your brain and body are so used to doing things a certain way.
Imagine that your brain is very used to going down the same paved path every single day. It’s easy to walk down that path because you’ve done it a thousand times.
But, the day you decide to change up the route means you are walking into uncharted territory. You have to fight through branches and the unknown. You have to start creating a new path for yourself. And it’s not easy.
Even the most disciplined and determined person can fail if they try to change everything all at once.
Just remember why you want to do it in the first place. You probably have goals for the future to live a life you're proud. You want a life that includes all of the things you enjoy.
Making a commitment to these goals will give you a sense of purpose in your life. And it will help you see that your life matters.
Eventually, once you start to accomplish your goals, you'll start to feel better. You'll start to see that you don't have to feel anxious or depressed all the time.
There is so much more to life than that. It doesn't have to take over your whole life.
How To Get Motivated When You Struggle With Anxiety & Depression – Now, Go Love Yourself
While just implementing one of the above strategies can have a tremendous effect on your motivation, it’s important to note that this isn’t just a one-off thing. Consistency wins the game here.
But it can be done. Finding motivation when you’ve got anxiety can be super-hard. And some days will be easier than others.
If there’s one thing you take away from this post, let it be that while you do need to make some changes in your life, trying to do too much, too soon, is a fast way to burn yourself out. Instead, take it step-by-step. Get clear on the direction you want to go, and commit to it.
And if you want some extra help on learning to overcome your anxiety, check out the Anxiety Action Plan.
You got this!
Did you enjoy this article on how to get motivated when you struggle with anxiety and depression?
If so, share/pin it, and share your thoughts in the comments below!