How to Stay Motivated When Depressed

I struggle with depression and as a new entrepreneur trying to get a business off the ground, it can be pretty terrible to deal with.

I want to share my story.

Not just because I think it will help you get to know me (it’s good to be a little vulnerable every once in a while) but also because I hope this might help some of you. Some of the things my clients are going to be dealing with can be pretty tough too. Debt repayment, savings, lifestyle changes; it’s hard to stay on track, especially if you’re dealing with something like depression or anxiety on top of that.

That’s what I’m going to be talking about today. How to keep moving on with your goals when you just don’t think you have anything left to give.

Disclaimer: I’ve never actually been officially diagnosed with depression or any other DSM-5 mental health issue. I want to be clear on that, because I don’t want to misrepresent myself as someone who has experience with a diagnosis. I have seen a psychotherapist in the past, who did say I could have what’s called ‘High Functioning Depression’ but the ongoing therapy seemed to really help so we didn’t go too far into any medication options or official testing. Just so we’re on the same page, that’s where I’m at.

Tip #1: Remind yourself you’re a BADASS human.

I have this issue where I basically forget every good thing I ever did. Ok, that’s kind of a lie, but when I get in these depressive slumps, it’s really easy to just fall into that self-deprecating language like: “you’re not doing enough, you made a terrible choice, why can’t you just BE motivated” When I’m in these times, I forget a lot of stuff. Like, the amazing things I accomplished last month, last week, or even that morning!

Sometimes I’m so upset with myself that I haven’t done something yet (like write a YouTube script) that I forget I spent 3 overtime hours the day before creating all the instagram captions for the next week.

So, REMIND yourself. Right now, I’m video journalling. I’m trying to video journal when I’m happy, AND when I’m sad, so that I can look back and remember how I was feeling and how I overcame that thing. For example, last December, I felt pretty crappy about how I was treating my business. But, looking back I can see that I was just totally burnt out from my full-time job sucking all of my energy.

How can you do this?

Send messages to your future self. Yep! Film yourself saying motivational things, or record a voice note to listen to later.

It’s just for you, so don’t worry about sounding cheesy or stupid. Say something that you know you’ll need to hear.

I also like to use the app “ThinkUp” it lets you record affirmations to yourself, so you can hear them in YOUR voice.

Which, I’ll admit is a little creepy at first, but after a while you realize it’s a lot more impactful than just listening to someone else say them.

If you are totally freaked out by the concept of seeing yourself on film or hearing your own voice, you can also set little calendar reminders just at random times throughout the week or month that are just encouraging.

Sometimes, it will just be a nice reminder, but other times it will hit you in the exact moment you need it the most.

Tip #2: Have a support system

Talk to your friends, talk to your family. Tell them how you’re feeling.

They love you, and they’ll help you see things you can’t.

Like how much of a badass human you are! They’ll remind you of why you’re doing all of this and help get you out of the funk.

I love to save encouraging messages from my friends to read later too.

If you ever get a nice message from a friend, or a client or a random person on facebook, screenshot it.

Put it in a folder that just says ‘why’ or ‘happy things’ or whatever, and look at it when you’re feeling kinda shitty about yourself.

Tip #3: Do something that excites you

Now, if those first two steps got you motivated, AMAZING. But knowing how I deal with things and assuming you’re the same, you’re probably not there yet. So, this next tip is a little more actionable.

Do something that excites you.

This is something one of my mentors taught me. When she gave me this message I was feeling pretty discouraged about everything that was going on in my life and guilty that I wasn’t ‘just working through it’.

So she said “just start with something that excites you”.

And holy crap does this make a world of a difference!

When you’re procrastinating, or upset about something you can’t FORCE yourself to do work. Even if you do, the work isn’t great, and you know you’re just going to be more upset about not being good enough. But, think about something task-adjacent to complete. It doesn’t have to be the most complicated or productive thing. It can even be a REALLY stupid minuscule thing. (Like, if you’re not motivated at all to do a budget check-in when you really need to, try colour coding all of your expenses into categories instead!)

Like legitimately just colour code stuff for an hour.

Some may call it a complete waste of time, but if it gets you in that working mood and you’re actually doing something, you’ll feel accomplished and a lot more likely to be motivated to do the thing you’re dreading!

And, I know I just called colour coding exciting but hey. That gets me PUMPED.

Tip #4: Focus

My fourth tip is FOCUS. I LOVE the app called “TIDE”.

Basically, it sets a timer, for whatever amount you want, with background music like forest sounds, or a busy cafe sound, so you can ‘FOCUS’.

When I’m feeling extremely unmotivated, and like I can’t do anything, I’ll set the timer for 10 minutes. Or, even 5 minutes, and just DO a thing I’ve been dreading. 5 minutes isn’t that long. You can work up the courage to do that hated thing for just 5 minutes. If you get good at that, repeat it. Or, challenge yourself to make it 10 minutes, or 20 minutes.

You can even keep increasing the time until you get it done! It’s really helpful actually to just focus on that one task. To narrow in and see that clock countdown to encourage you to keep going.

Getting up the courage to work for 10 minutes is much easier than getting the courage to complete a whole task that might take hours.

Tip #5: Break it down

And finally, you’ve done all of the things on this list and you’re still struggling to stay on top of it, break it down. And then break it down a little more.

Break whatever the task is into tiny little minuscule pieces. As small as you can. And tackle one at a time. A little progress is better than no progress, and if all you can do is a small tiny thing all day? Well at least you did that small tiny thing.

I find when I’m in my depressive spirals of anxiety and self-doubt, it really hinders my ability to do ANYTHING. Which, of course, puts me down further into the spiral because I’m feeling guilty for not doing and therefore ‘BEING’ ‘enough’, and it’s way harder to climb out. So, I’ve found that it really helps to ‘keep my head above water’ so to speak, if I can tell myself “At least you did THIS”.

If I’m really struggling say to make a weeks worth of instagram posts and I’m getting really overwhelmed trying to figure out what I’m going to do, I’ll just make ONE.

When you can barely get out of bed to take shower, it’s pretty freaking difficult to do anything else, so just break it up as small as you can and do that tiny thing.

Be PROUD of yourself that you did that thing. Because if you’re really feeling that down, that one thing is HUGE.

Conclusion:

Accept yourself for who you are.

Some people just need a little (or a lot) of extra self-care and you’re ALLOWED to give yourself that.

You shouldn’t feel guilty for your feelings, or put yourself down because it seems like everybody has it together and you just can’t.

Obviously it’s much easier said than done, I’m a little bit of a hypocrite because I’m definitely talking to my future self here, but I think that’s important too.

It’s important to realize that there are different parts of us. When you’re in ‘the good times’, the confident times, the happy times, make memories.

Realize that THAT is your real brain talking and when you get into the depressive spirals it’s just your ugly brain monster wanting to keep you down. Be brave. Your ugly brain monster is going to tell you tons of terrible lies to keep you stuck. So remember your real brain instead.

Your real brain is where the motivation comes from.

Your real brain makes the goals and has all of the ambition and energy.

THAT’S the one you have to let in the driver's seat.

Alright thanks so much everyone for reading! If you liked this post, I’d like to invite you to join my Facebook group!

It’s an awesome and honest personal finance group where you can be motivated by your peers to reach all your money goals, it’s called Financially Naked with Ready Set Life. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/financiallynaked and I’d love to see you there!