Staying Motivated through your Sadness

I think we all go through periods in our life when we feel high energy, motivated, and inspired. Then there are the times when we’re distracted, tired, and even depressed. I’ve also noticed there are times when I’m motivated in certain aspects of my life, but not others. Like I want to put all my time and energy into that one thing and struggle to find balance with all the other things that need my attention. It can be a struggle to get back on track. I feel this way now after coming off being sick. We’re mostly back to normal around here (except for this pesky cough which is determined to linger forever), but I definitely lost some of the drive I had before getting sick and haven’t yet managed to get it back.

This is also the time of year that I’m prone to start feeling a bit melancholy. I’ve never been diagnosed with depression or anything, but I’ve noticed the pattern that arises this time of year. It’s ironic considering Autumn is by far my favorite season and there’s plenty of things that bring me happiness around this time of year, as well. It’s complicated.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

But I’ve changed the way I think about these things even from a few years ago. There’s an acceptance that, yes, I will feel a little more down and that’s okay. I don’t need to be ashamed and I don’t need to pretend I don’t. For me, when I get into this mindset that I need to hide my sadness, it just gets amplified. I dwell on it more when I’m alone and it distracts me more when I’m supposed to have my ‘game face’ on. I don’t need to talk about it constantly, but I don’t need to try to keep it a well-guarded secret either. When it just is what it is, I feel like it has less control over me.

They say that, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” and this definitely has truth to it. For me, productivity is the biggest motivator I have. It’s hard to start because, well, if you’re not motivated to do stuff, it’s hard to start… doing stuff. But the thing is, I’m in a place in my life where I know what happens. I know I just have to start. I know if I set an alarm for the morning I feel ten times better if I get up right away than if I press the snooze button. I know if I push myself to work outside, I feel a wonderful calmness and peace once I start. So what I strive for, is the willpower and the mental agency to just start. The rest takes care of itself.

If this is something you’re struggling with, where even the smallest tasks feel like literally the last thing on Earth you feel like doing, there are different things you can try. We’re all individuals and obviously what works for me may not be effective for you. One thing that is simple as all get out, but really makes a difference for me is simply making sure I shower in the morning. When I’m sick (or just depressed) this is definitely something I don’t feel like doing. I just want to sit in my filth and be grumpy. But let me tell you, showering first thing in the morning and actually getting ready for the day gets me in a significantly better mindset from the get-go. Then I have a few small things I want to accomplish. You don’t need a to-do list that’s a mile long. Just a few small things, like: do the dishes, wash the bed sheets, or walk the dog. Small things that don’t take very long feel a lot more achievable and less intimidating when you’re not at your best. If you’re like me, once you start you’ll naturally start taking care of other things as well. If you’re not like me, well then at least you’ve gotten those few things not piling up.

It may seem cliche, but we all have our own mountains to climb.

The other major thing that affects me a lot is what media I’m taking in. When I was in high school I saw this movie, called Homeless to Harvard and the plot is exactly what it sounds like. The thing about this movie is it was based off of a true story. Watching this always motivated me to do my homework and work hard. I had no aspirations to go to Harvard and I certainly wasn’t facing any of the adversity that this woman had. But thinking about this person who worked so hard and showed such persistence just made me feel like I had no excuse not to do my best. When things came up and I lacked motivation I would think about that movie. So now when I feel down, I don’t want to watch things that make me feel hopeless for the state of humanity. I want to watch people rising above. I intentionally seek out the stories of people who have accomplished something inspiring. It may feel like watching someone do something amazing like climb Mt Everest or surviving some extreme situation has nothing to do with me waking up in the morning and taking care of myself and my home. But when I’m reminded what the human spirit is capable of, I remember that I am made of the same stuff as those people. If they can do that, I can do what I need to do. Everyone has a flame inside. I am no exception and neither are you.

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