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Last Updated on December 17, 2020

How to Get Motivated When Depressed and Frustrated

How to Get Motivated When Depressed and Frustrated

Feeling down?

You’re not alone.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 16 million adults over age 18 had a major depressive episode in the United States in 2016 alone.[1]

And that doesn’t include the more common forms of depression and frustration that consume most of us on an all-too-regular basis.

In this article, we’re going to look into the reasons why you may feel depressed and frustrated and how to get motivated when depressed.

First, are you really depressed?

The signs and symptoms of depression on legion.

Depression can create feelings of apathy, discontent, hopeless, sadness and guilt.

Depressive episodes can affect your sleep cycles, leading to restlessness, insomnia or excessive sleepiness.

Behaviorally, in a depressive state, individuals experience more frustration and agitation.

Depression can influence your appetite (in either direction), your cognitive functioning (lack of focus), and your level of energy (fatigue).

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Okay, so let’s say you’re saying, “Check, check, and check.”

What’s next? Let’s explore some of the potential reasons why we get depressed.

7 common reasons for depression and frustration

Scan this list with an open mind and see which ones resonate with you. Often there are multiple factors that trigger our emotional states.

  • Repressed rage: When we are de-pressed, we are pushing down other emotions and feelings. The most common emotion that we push out of our awareness is anger and rage.
  • Unacknowledged envy: For many of us, envy silently eats away at our motivation each day. When we’re not conscious of our envy, it can quickly lead to depression.
  • Unmet basic needs: Abraham Maslow found that we all have basic human needs for safety, belonging, and self-esteem. When we don’t meet these needs sufficiently, we become neurotic. Depression and anxiety are common forms of neurosis.[2]
  • Life circumstances: If you’re going through a divorce or the loss of a loved one, depression and sadness is a common experience.
  • Something doesn’t go your way: You want something to happen—a promotion, a date, etc.—but it doesn’t happen. These circumstances often trigger frustration and can lead to depression.
  • Repressed desires: When we don’t get what we want, we get frustrated. When we don’t even acknowledge what we want, we get depressed. Sometimes these desires are reasonable; other times, they are tyrannical.
  • Living out of alignment: Perhaps you’ve made choices that defy who you are. Or, you’re behaving in ways that go against your personal core values. Making poor decisions and living out of accord with our values, is a sure path to depression and discontent.

What’s next? How do you get motivated when you’re depressed?

The standard approach: What not to do

When most people feel depressed, they try to “push through it.”

In a culture that has a bias toward happiness, we believe depression is a bad thing. If we have depression, we need to change it right away.

And how do we go about changing it? By using brute force—pushing ourselves to do that which we don’t want to do.

But here’s the most valuable lesson anyone can learn about their subconscious mind:

What we resist, persists.

What does this mean?

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Resisting depression or frustration will not only prolong its existence; it may even make it stronger. So, when we try to motivate ourselves through sheer will, we are feeding the very monster we’re trying to overcome.

The alternative approach: Self-awareness

Instead of trying to push through depression, learn from it. It’s there for a reason; a part of you is trying to tell you something.

Do you know what it’s trying to tell you?

Many times, just getting clarity on the source of the depression can reduce it if not release it entirely.

This approach is powerful, but there are two good reasons we don’t take it:

  1. It can be uncomfortable to face the truth behind our depression and frustration. And we often do what we can to avoid discomfort.
  2. The source of our depression and frustration isn’t always obvious. Without sufficient self-awareness skills, we may not be fully conscious of the cause of depression.

3 powerful approaches to overcoming depression

Martin Seligman is considered the father of positive psychology. Early in his career, he specialized in studying depression.

In his groundbreaking book, Learned Optimism, Seligman highlights that depression is a form of learned helplessness. Learned helplessness occurs when a problem appears:

  • Personal
  • Permanent
  • Pervasive

When these three Ps are present, we feel hopeless and get depressed. The methods that follow are designed to help shift you out of the feeling that your problems are personal, permanent, and everywhere.

I’ve come to appreciate the power of taking a multi-dimensional approach to things like depression. Different methods will work for different people, and at different times, so experiment until you find what works for you.

These approaches fall into three categories: mental, emotional, and physical.

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Emotional strategies for depression

If you’re aware of your depression and what’s causing it, you can try going deeper into the emotion itself.

Remember, depression is just a state. You’re not the depression itself.

Try to find the “center” of the depression, and you may realize that it has none. Then, the depression will disappear on its own.

Alternatively, you can express your depression and frustration. Go into a private space, like the bathroom, and talk to the depressed part in the mirror. See what it wants and needs. Often, merely allowing this sad part to express itself can resolve the depression.

Mental strategies for depression

You can also try a meditation technique. Access what’s called the Observing Mind—the part of you that can observe or witness your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Use this Observing Mind to simply watch the depression.

By observing your depression, it creates “distance” between you and this depressive part. And with this distance often comes a different perspective about your life circumstances.

Alternatively, go on Youtube.com and watch a few videos of individuals living in environments that have significantly fewer opportunities than you have. This contrast may reduce the perceived importance of the causes of your depression and frustration, allowing you to shift to a new mental state.

Physical strategies for depression

Some of the most powerful things we can do to shift out of depression and into a more empowered state are physical.

Here’s a list of things you can try:

  • Take a cold shower. Evidence continues to show that exposure to cold activates numerous brain functions that help alleviate depression.
  • Exercise. Numerous studies show that exercise helps reduce depression by increasing endorphins and getting us out of heads.[3] Exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes or more at least 3 to 5 times each week. What exercise? It doesn’t matter. Just move! The key is to find something you enjoy doing.
  • Trauma release exercises. Depression and chronic fatigue is often a result of emotions like anger, fear, and sadness getting stored in the body. Trauma release exercises[4] are designed to release these stored emotions.
  • Do something outrageous. Similar to taking a cold shower, try doing something outrageous—anything that “breaks your patterns,” as they say in neuro-linguistic programming. Push-ups, jumping jacks, or jumping rope can work. You can even try putting your head out the passenger window in a car.
  • Be mindful of what you eat and drink. When we’re depressed, we often seek to feel better by consuming foods and drinks that only add to the depression. Sugar and alcohol consumption will likely prolong your misery. Instead, eat foods that help fight depression.
  • Avoid social media. Research continues to link social media usage with an increase in depression and anxiety. This study, for instance, shows that the more people use Facebook, the worse they feel.[5]
  • Ground yourself. A grounding technique as simple as walking barefoot on the earth for 20 minutes once or twice a day can have a tremendous effect on our emotional wellbeing. How? Grounding is an easy way get out of our head and into our body. The more rooted we are in our body, the less rumination we experience, which can break the cycle of depression.

The best long-term methods to optimism

All of the above strategies can help you overcome depression and frustration, but the best long-term approaches to getting motivated in the face of depression are to develop your strengths and cultivate gratitude.

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Playing to your strengths

Seligman and others developed a free assessment to highlight your signature strengths. His research suggests that the best way to ensure happiness in the present is to develop yourself and play to your strengths as much as you can.[6]

Cultivating gratitude

Depression is largely the result of our minds fixating on what we don’t have. Gratitude is an expression of the opposite: by being grateful, we are acknowledging all of the things we have right now.

There’s significant evidence that maintaining a gratitude journal where you highlight three things that you’re grateful for each day can have a measurable impact on your wellbeing within 30 days.[7]

Final thoughts

So how do you get motivated when depressed or frustrated?

Remember, what you resist, persists. Trying to motivate yourself in the face of depression can potentially make the depression stronger.

Instead, accept what you’re feeling right now. But at the same time, you’re not what your feelings.

Depression and frustration may be experiences in you, but they are not what you are.

Understanding the real source of your depression can be infinitely more helpful than trying to “push through it.” Then, focus on things you can do to foster a more empowering emotional state right now.

Approach depression with the physical, emotional and mental strategies highlighted above and your motivation will naturally arise in due time.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Scott Jeffrey

Business Coach, Writer, and Mind Voyager

How to Get Motivated When Depressed and Frustrated How to Use Observational Learning to Learn Effectively What are MBTI Types and How Can They Affect Your Career Choices?

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Last Updated on January 18, 2021

30 Refreshing Routines to Boost Your Morning Motivation

30 Refreshing Routines to Boost Your Morning Motivation

Your morning motivation determines whether you can win the day. In 2016, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Ohio State University studied call center staff working for an insurance company[1].

They specifically looked at the mood of the call center staff throughout their working day. The three-week study discovered something interesting. Namely, staff who started the day in a bad mood usually ended the day in a bad mood. This was despite them receiving calls from positive customers throughout the day.

Staff who started their day calm or happy finished their working day in the same upbeat emotional state. Furthermore, the study found that staff with low moods had low productivity. Staff with elevated moods demonstrated high productivity.

As you can see from the above revelations, it’s vital that you start your day well with a great morning routine.

If you’re prone to starting off your day in a gloomy and stressed state, then you’ll be sure to benefit from the suggestions below.

1. Wake up on Time

Waking up on time (or waking up early) is critical to starting your day positively and keeping your sleep cycle in check. It will give you space and time to complete your morning routines, and you won’t need to worry about rushing around your home[2].

Keep your sleep cycle in check for morning motivation.

    If you often hit the snooze button, set your alarm and put your phone at least a few feet away from your bed so you have to get up to turn off the alarm in the morning.

    2. Open Your Curtains

    One of the first things you should do upon rising is to open your bedroom curtains to boost your early morning motivation.

    The human body clock depends highly on the sun and our exposure to it. When we wake up to sunlight, we will naturally feel more energized, and our body clocks will be set for the day ahead[3].

    3. Make Your Bed

    Remember your student days? Making your bed was probably the last thing you thought about when you were stumbling out of it in the morning.

    This habit may be okay for students, but if you want to accelerate your motivation and productivity, you should definitely make your bed.

    It takes less than a minute, and you’ll be rewarded by a tidy room and a feeling of self-satisfaction.

    4. Enjoy a Refreshing Shower

    I’m always amazed when people tell me that they didn’t have time to shower in the morning.

    A shower only takes 10 minutes or so, and it’s a great way to clean your body, and the perfect way to wake up motivated.

    5. Drink a Freshly-Blended Smoothie

    Every morning, I enjoy a freshly-blended, fruit-based smoothie. This consists of organic milk and a small portion of fruit, such as bananas, mangoes, or strawberries.

    It’s a superb way to kick-start your day with morning motivation. Not only does it taste great, but it’s also full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

    6. Take a 10-Minute Walk in the Morning Sunshine

    If you have a dog, then this will be an easy task for you.

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    However, even if you don’t own a dog, why not try walking for 10 minutes outside every morning?

    If you’re lucky enough to live close to a park, then you could walk around the park before going to work. Fresh air and exercise are an invigorating combination that will set the tone for your whole day.

    7. Check Your To-Do List

    Organized people tend to have to-do lists. It helps them keep track of what needs doing at home, work, and beyond.

    To-do lists can be paper-based, or you can use one of the many free apps that are available. The morning time is perfect for checking your to-do list and prioritizing items for the day.

    You may also find that you can tick off some items that you completed the previous day.

    8. Listen to Some Upbeat Music

    Music is a powerful mood changer. If you’re not a typical morning person, you can boost your morning motivation by listening to upbeat music.

    Simply try to choose music that makes you feel happy and lively. You could listen to this music while you shower, when you’re in your kitchen, or perhaps when you’re commuting to work.

    Here’re also some for your inspirations: 30 Inspirational Songs that Keep You Motivated for Life

    9. Complete a Mini Workout

    If you have a home gym, then spend 30 minutes each morning working out. This will rapidly wake you up and increase your mental well-being in the long term.

    If you don’t have a home gym, you can still do a mini workout. For example, try doing sets of push-ups and sit-ups on a yoga mat.

    10. Review Your Goals

    Early morning can be an excellent time for contemplation.

    While you may want to think about trivial things, successful people often use this time to review their personal goals. You can do the same.

    For instance, if one of your goals is to start your own business, then use the morning time to come up with ideas to help move you towards this goal.

    11. Pack Some Healthy Snacks to Take to Work

    You may have started the day with a healthy breakfast, but have you noticed how easy it is for our diets to go downhill from there!

    As soon as we arrive at college or work, we begin looking for the coffee. Not long after that, we get hungry and start seeking out cakes, cookies, and chocolate.

    Luckily, with a bit of preparation, you can avoid this situation. The trick is to pack some healthy snacks, such as apples, bananas, or nuts. These healthy treats will happily keep you going until lunchtime.

    12. Declutter Part of Your Home

    Unless your home is currently spotless and has nothing out of place, then you could spend a few minutes each morning decluttering an area of your home.

    Take your hallway, for example. This may have shoes and bags that could be tidied away in just a few minutes. With this bit of productivity, your morning motivation will skyrocket.

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    13. Meditate for 5 Minutes

    Many high achievers say that they mediate each morning. This gives them balance and poise before beginning their working day[4].

    Have you thought about trying meditation? Although there are different forms of meditation, the simplest method is to just close your eyes, control your breathing, and let your thoughts settle.

    Like most things in life, the more you practice meditation, the easier it will become for you.

    14. Stretch Your Body

    You may have woken up with a stiff neck, or perhaps pain in your back.

    Stretching for just a few minutes offers quick pain relief, improved posture and enhanced energy levels[5]

    Morning stretches for morning motivation

      You can also try these 17 Morning Stretches That Will Jumpstart Your Body and Mind.

      15. Read a Motivational Quote

      If you want to boost your productivity, then make a habit of reading a motivational quote each morning.

      To get you in the mood for adopting this behavior, I’ve picked out one of my favorite quotes for you:

      “Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.” -Og Mandino

      And here’re more: 50+ Best Motivational Quotes To Prepare You For Any Challenges In Life

      16. Drink a Glass of Water

      Hydration is essential, especially after hours of sleeping. Water can reduce calorie intake throughout the day, increase mental performance, and transport all the nutrients your body needs[6].

      Even if you’re a caffeine addict, try drinking a glass of water before you start on the hard stuff.

      17. Create Something

      Let’s say that you are a budding singer-songwriter. You’re not famous yet, but you want to be!

      Before heading off to do your current job, you could spend 20 minutes or so writing lyrics for a new song. Do this everyday for a week, and you’ll probably have enough lyrics for a whole album.

      Other ideas for creating something include putting together a bouquet of flowers, working on your novel, or adding the finishing touches to your latest artwork. You’ll be surprised by how much this helps your early morning motivation.

      18. Write Down Things You’re Grateful for

      It’s all too easy to take things for granted. We need to constantly remind ourselves of things in our life that we’re grateful for.

      A beneficial and rewarding morning practice is to write a list of things that you’re currently grateful for. These could be things such as your partner, your job, and your health.

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      Some people like to write a list each morning that includes everything they were grateful for from the previous day. Over time, you can develop an attitude of gratitude. Moreover, gratitude is an indicator of overall well-being in life[7].

      19. Play With Your Pets

      If you’re fortunate enough to have a pet, then the morning is the perfect time to have some fun with them.

      For instance, if you have a dog, they’re sure to like playing with a ball or Frisbee first thing in the morning. They’ll have fun, and you will, too.

      20. Listen to an Inspiring Podcast

      Podcasts are a great way to listen to inspiring speakers for some morning motivation.

      As they’re audio only, you can listen to them while making your breakfast, or even while you’re driving your car.

      Just imagine hearing expert tips on business, success, and well-being every morning. Before long, this precious wisdom is bound to sink into your consciousness.

      Here’re some podcasts recommended for you:

      21. Plan Your Day

      Self-help guru Alan Lakein famously said:

      “Failing to plan, is planning to fail.”

      Wise words indeed.

      To be successful in life, you must learn how to make plans and set goals. You can use a few minutes each morning to plan the day ahead. It’s a simple technique that offers a surprising boost to your daily productivity.

      22. Learn Something New

      Each morning is the start of a new day. Why not tap into this fresh energy by learning something new every morning?

      This could be something like a few words of a new language, a new guitar chord, or some facts related to your favorite basketball team.

      23. Enjoy the Quiet

      If you can get up in the morning before the majority of other people, you’ll be rewarded with peace and quiet.

      You can make use of this special time by perhaps reading a book or sitting in your garden. Let the quiet sink in before you get to the chaos of the day.

      24. Think of a Way to Help Someone Later in the Day

      Today’s society seems riddled with a me, me, me mentality.

      It’s important not to get caught in this self-centered trend. One way to do this is to take a few minutes each morning to think of ways that you can help other people later in the day.

      To give you an example, you may have a colleague who has a sweet tooth. You could decide to take some chocolates to work that you could share with this individual.

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      25. Go for a Swim

      If you like to swim, and there is a swimming pool nearby, then this is a wonderful way to start your day with some morning motivation.

      Swimming pools are usually quiet in the morning, so you’re likely to have loads of space for serious swimming, or simply having fun!

      26. Meet Some Friends for Breakfast

      Until I was in my 20s, I’d never thought about going out for breakfast with friends. However, I was fortunate to be introduced to this idea by a couple of American friends who were staying with me in London.

      I distinctively remember them saying, “Where shall we go for breakfast?” I was taken aback because I had always just had breakfast at home.

      I’m glad they persuaded me, though, as I loved having breakfast with them in a local café. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I now regularly meet friends for breakfast. If you haven’t tried it before, give it a go!

      27. Check Yourself in the Mirror

      I’ve heard people say that they don’t like to look in the mirror in the morning because they’re afraid of what they might see.

      I’m guessing that they probably look miserable and tired first thing in the morning, and want to avoid been reminded of this. It’s understandable, but I think mirrors are a great tool to use in the morning.

      Instead of being afraid of them, use them to check your appearance. You can quickly check your hair and makeup (for example).

      But more importantly, you can ensure that you’re looking alert, confident, and purposeful.

      28. Follow Steve Jobs’ Advice

      In a speech he gave at Stanford University in 2005, Steve Jobs revealed that he started each day by asking the following question:

      “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”

      He went on to say that, if the answer to the question was “no” for several days, then this told him that he needed to make changes in his life.

      29. Leave Plenty of Time for Your Commute

      Rushing to work is the cause of so much stress and anxiety. One of the problems is that most people seem to leave a set amount of time for their commute but don’t allow for any delays. When they encounter one, their morning motivation is destroyed.

      The resolution is simple: always allow more time than you need.

      30. Kiss Your Loved Ones Before You Leave the House

      Don’t be in so much of a hurry in the morning that you forget the most valuable people in your life.

      Whether it’s your partner or your children, be sure to hug and kiss them before heading out the door. Relationships are so important, so be certain to nurture yours.

      The Bottom Line

      Hopefully, the above list will give you plenty of food for thought.

      I recommend that you pick out a handful of the above suggestions, and make them a part of your daily routine.

      By building these new habits, you’ll find that your days start happier and stronger. You’ll also discover that you’re more motivated and productive than ever before.

      More Ways to Find Morning Motivation

      Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

      Reference

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