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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

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Reference

More by this author

Scott Jeffrey

Business Coach, Writer, and Mind Voyager

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Last Updated on July 22, 2021

How To Stay Motivated As You Build Your Business

How To Stay Motivated As You Build Your Business

Remember the day you launched your own business? You had spent months or years developing your idea. You may have sacrificed a steady job to become the master of your professional destiny. Having entrepreneur motivation was easy, natural, and energizing in the beginning.

So, why are you struggling to stay motivated now when you need it most? Your business, after all, isn’t going to build itself.

Nearly everything in life experiences cycles. The solar system, hormones, your washing machine—and yes, even motivation. Movement is inherent in cycles. If you stop moving, your business simply grinds to a halt, and you may find yourself looking for a job after all.

The mere threat of stagnation should be enough to get your entrepreneur motivation mojo back online. If that’s not enough, here are eight ways you can stay motivated as you build your business.

1. Recognize That Business Motivation Doesn’t Last on Its Own

Ironically, the first step in staying motivated is realizing that motivation doesn’t last—at least not without some effort. Think of the verbs associated with motivation, such as “incite,” “stimulate,” and “inspire.” They all speak to elevating something low.

Highs and lows, ebbs and flows, are all cyclical. There are days when you have so much you want to accomplish that you won’t have the hours. On others, you may struggle to even get dressed. As does every aspect of your business, motivation requires constant care and feeding. So, don’t despair during those times you feel bottomed out. Recall the almost manic thrill you get when your entrepreneur motivation seems to be unstoppable and concentrate on recapturing it.

Motivation neither just happens nor lasts. It takes focus, drive, and a conscious effort. When it lags, roll up your sleeves, choose a task, and get back to the business-building at hand.

2. Expand Your Network

No business or entrepreneur can operate in a bubble. Connection to customers, vendors, employees, and other entrepreneurs is vital to growing a business. It’s also motivational. I find that one of the things that makes me most energized about my business is the connections I make while networking.[1]

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Networking effectively is about give and take, which means you only get as good as you give. Be generous with your thoughts, ideas, and connections, and others will reciprocate.

These days, there are myriad networking channels to choose from. There are the tried-and-true conferences, industry and professional organizations, and even your local Chamber of Commerce. But the internet and social media have vastly expanded the opportunities to connect with other empire-building, ambitious people.

If you aren’t networking because you didn’t think it was worth your time, get out there. Not only will you pick up some great ideas, but you’ll also find yourself reinspired. Few things are as motivating as encountering other people’s enthusiasm for your business.

3. Focus on Your Goals

We all know that goals are important. If we fail to set them, how do we know when we have achieved something? In business, as in life, we need targets.

For me, having a goal focus is intrinsically motivational. Have you met all the business goals you set previously?[2] Then, it’s time to set some new and even more ambitious ones than before.

Keep in mind that business goals can be moving targets, as circumstances change and reality sets in. What you must avoid is allowing yourself or your business to be paralyzed by indecision.

As Yogi Berra said, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”

The mere exercise of setting goals is energizing, so use the process when you’re in a slump. Make sure you set realistic goals—neither too high nor too low. Once the big ones are in place, establish mileposts so you know your business is on the right path.

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4. Stay True to Your Mission (or Find a New One)

Unlike goals, the mission of your business should not be a moving target. While a mission can and should be reassessed periodically, it must, nonetheless, remain a constant for a significant period of time. That’s because it should be driving everything you do.

The world changes quickly. Customers, technology, markets, workforces, and supply chains are in a constant state of flux. In my business, the challenge has always been to respond to change while remaining true to our mission.[3] On this point, Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Concept is spot on.[4]

According to Collins, your mission can be found at the intersection of three key truths about your enterprise:

  1. What you’re deeply passionate about
  2. What you can be best in the world at
  3. What drives your economic or resource engine

You should find motivation in the mission of your business. If you don’t, perhaps you aren’t passionate about it, can’t be the best in the world at it, or aren’t making money delivering it. If that’s the case, find a mission that intersects, and you’ll rediscover your entrepreneur motivation.

5. Celebrate Wins and Learn From Losses

Too many times, business owners fail to celebrate wins and learn from losses. That’s unfortunate because both wins and losses are two well-known secrets of entrepreneur motivation. If you aren’t treating them as the motivators they are, you should be.

Go back to those goals you set when you started your business. Have you achieved them?

If you did, have you taken the time to celebrate those wins with your stakeholders? If you haven’t reached them, figure out why, make adjustments, and try to turn them into wins. Wallowing in losses instead of learning from them and moving on is a sure way to lose motivation.

Don’t forget to celebrate the small wins as well. In my company, we ring a gong every time we land a new client so the small victory reverberates through the office. Doing this builds our confidence, generates enthusiasm, and motivates our team to aim higher. I recommend finding your own way to acknowledge the small wins that are necessary to achieve those major victories your business needs to flourish.

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When a lack of motivation sets in, take stock of everything you have accomplished. Pat yourself on the back and bask in the glow of achievement. That pause may be all you need to motivate you to achieve more success.

6. Identify Your Disruptive Powers

When you launched your business, were you just joining the pack? Or did you want to fill a gaping, empty market niche? Odds are, you believed you had a solution to a problem that no other business was figuring out.

Take Uber, Netflix, and Blue Apron. They disrupted the taxi, movie, and food industries by putting a revolutionary spin on the traditional way of doing business. In doing so, they solved problems the market wasn’t even aware it had.

The business you’re building may not be the next Tesla, but that doesn’t mean it can’t disrupt an industry, a sector, or just your local business community. You might discover a new customer service paradigm or a way to use technology that no one else has.

You can’t be innovative without being motivated, and if you aren’t motivated, your business will only achieve the status quo. So, start imagining ways you can disrupt your industry to kickstart your motivation. Even little ripples can turn into serious waves.

7. Spend Some Time Away

Building a business is exhausting during normal times. Throw in the stress and radical changes accompanying a global pandemic, and life can become overwhelming. This can lead to depression, indecision, paralysis, or even sheer panic.

You can’t control the world, but you can control your response to what’s happening. Start by stopping your attempts to do it all and set some priorities instead. When overwhelmed with life, one of those priorities must be yourself.

Spend some time away from work to recharge. A bit of respite is the only way you can replace the energy and inspiration sapped by a turbulent world. Work to overcome the feeling that your business can’t run without you, especially when your lack of motivation isn’t doing it any favors anyway.

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A little rest and relaxation may be all you need to return to the office reinvigorated. If your break involves travel, exposure to different places and cultures might even spark new trains of thought. You will be motivated to pick up where you left off and get back to growing your business.

8. Remain Customer-Centric

Whatever widget or widget service you sell, you have customers. Your lack of motivation does a disservice to a market looking to your business for solutions. When your business motivation wanes, think of those customers counting on you to succeed.

Keeping your eye on your customers isn’t a distraction from building your business. The most successful companies in the world are extremely customer-centric. Think about Apple’s uncanny ability to anticipate customer needs or Google’s cloud-based growth stemming from empathy for the challenges facing their customers.

Perhaps, there is a relationship between your lack of motivation and customer neglect. Remaining vigilant about their needs will determine whether or not your business is successful. To conduct surveys, read customer reviews, and do market research to discover those needs. After all, if you aren’t solving their problems, what are you doing?

When the noise from the daily demands of running a business gets too loud, tune it out. Listen to what your customers are saying about you and what they’re asking for. Responding to them will require focus, as you are motivated by your dream to build a successful business.

Final Thoughts

Motivation is movement, action—a driving force of human nature. Although it waxes and wanes as naturally as the lunar cycle, restoring business motivation can require a concentrated effort. It’s an effort you’ll want to make because a prolonged lack of motivation is deadly.

If you lack the motivation to eat, you starve. If you lack the motivation to drive in your lane, you crash. If you lack the motivation to build your business, you fail.

You are obviously a highly motivated individual. If you weren’t, you never would have started a business of your own. Entrepreneurs are, at their cores, a rare and uniquely inspired breed.

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So, when your entrepreneur motivation flatlines, don’t give up. Whether the spark comes from a personal connection, a new goal, a brief vacation, or a customer comment, there are ways to get yourself back on the business-building track again.

Featured photo credit: Ellyot via unsplash.com

Reference

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