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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.
Like getting out of bed or taking a shower.
Trust me, I get it. 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.
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 because they are either embarrassed or deny they have it.
So, before we get into this, I want you to take all of this pressure off of yourself that makes you think you have to be doing more than you are.
Stop thinking that you need to just be stronger and fight your mindset by forcing yourself to do things you hate.
This will only make it worse. Trying to fight anxiety and push it away doesn’t help.
Because you might feel ok for a little bit, but it always comes back with a vengeance.
Before I go into this list, I do want to recommend talking to your doctor and finding a therapist if you’re finding it hard to function at all.
Dealing with Clinical Depression or Generalized Anxiety Disorder makes trying anything new feel impossible. That’s why I suggest getting to a point where you are mentally ready to move forward.
It’s totally possible to manage both of these and to actually get out of depression. But, if you’re in the middle of it, 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, talking to someone who has experience can help put you on the right track.
I don’t want you to be suffering. It’s why I always suggest focusing on that first, and then moving forward.
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.
You’re feeling ok enough to try things, but you’re still in the habits you created when you were too anxious and depressed.
When you were 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.
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.
That’s because you’re trying to just change everything that is engrained in your brain and set new habits.
And if you’ve been in survival mode just trying to get through the day without having a panic attack, setting multiple goals 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 is the way to go. This honestly ensures that you stick to your goals and makes it easy enough to follow every day.
It also takes some of the pressure off. When we set unrealistic goals, we put way too much pressure on ourselves.
Which just makes the whole process very unenjoyable.
Baby steps actually makes 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 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 into your daily routine.
You can even write down a list of all your goals. And go through and number each goal, with 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 can’t stop thinking about most of the time.
And if you can start doing this thing daily, you’ll quickly start to feel much better about each day and motivated 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 make it stick because your internal clock will just know when to work on it.
Figure out a time of day that works best for your schedule to work on it.
If you want to start working out, setting a time in the morning before your day starts might work best. I’ve personally found working out later in the day a challenge, just because there’s 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 to do every day consistently.
Start with Just 5 Minutes
If your goal requires you set aside time daily to focus on it (like working out or practicing a hobby), start with 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.
For the first few weeks or month you can keep it at 5 minutes, and then start to increase it by 5 minutes.
Depending on how you’re feeling you can either increase the time by 5 minutes every week or stay at 5 minutes until a month has passed, then increase to 10 minutes.
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 up to $5 a day.
You can start cutting out expenses, like going to Starbucks or buying lunch daily and use that money saved towards your savings account.
No matter what your goal is, just remember to start very small where it’s very possible to do it no matter what.
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 so 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.
A big piece to all of this is to not overthink it. You can definitely 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 unchartered territory. Where you have to fight through branches and the unknown to start creating a new path for yourself.
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 of that includes all of the things you enjoy.
Making a commitment to these goals will also give you a sense of purpose in your life and like your life matters.
Eventually, once you start to accomplish your goals you will feel better and will 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, and it doesn’t have to take over your whole life.
Did you enjoy this article or have questions? Leave them in the comments below!
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