A poor mental health comes with a host of unwanted symptoms and the biggest one that most experience is lack of motivation. The desire to action when you’re feeling like sleeping yourself into oblivion can be difficult and I know speaking from experience, that alone made me even more depressed.
Naturally being a pretty motivated person, it almost shook me a little bit to be face to face with this person I did not recognise. She was dull, lifeless and motivation was not in her vocab. Trying to put one foot in front of the other was a daily struggle and I was basically impressed I was making it through each day.
Looking back, I think there are a few things that need to happen when anyone is faced with this unfortunate situation. The first is acceptance and this stands for anything that comes your way in life. Learning to accept things as they are is so important because it means you’re also accepting yourself as YOU are now, even in the darkest of times. I think when someone goes through a hard time in their life and they don’t feel like themselves they almost dissociate from that person and begin to resent what that person represents, and I get it because it’s a natural response. As humans we don’t like to feel unhappy, we try everything in our willpower to avoid it and so when we feel it, a lot of the time it’s a danger zone and we go into crisis mode.
Learning to accept you aren’t feeling motivated is your first step! Own it, no it’s not great and you wish things could be different but thinking about how unmotivated you are compared to how you use to be is a recipe for disaster. Attention needs to be brought back into the now and dwelling over a past version of you and wanting it to “come back” is wasted energy, energy that can be put into the now and how you’re going to build yourself up and be strong.
I remember constantly beating myself up about the fact I was unmotivated and didn’t want to do the things I usually wanted to do. Go to the gym, go to work, take the dog for a walk, see my friends and family, everything felt like a chore and all I was thinking about was bed and avoiding the world. Pressuring the situation and making myself feel worse for not accomplishing general activities only amplified my symptoms. I was unwell, I couldn’t accept it and I didn’t want to. “Where had the happy go Lauren gone?”. Accepting my current situation, phase of life, whatever you want to refer to it as, would have given me the space to BE unwell. I’m not expected to partake in my regular activities when I am sick with the flu, so how come it was different when suffering with a mental health condition? Accepting you’re unwell is the first part, everything else follows from there because you’re finally being true to yourself. The universe can guide you from here.
Secondly, I think motivation is maintained when discipline is enforced. Motivation really is not a constant and by relying on it to keep you going, majority of the time the person will fail (I know, I’m sorry!). Discipline is what gets you moving, gets you on that road to recovery. Overloading your brain with all the things you need to get back into is stressful, unhelpful and in my opinion, only puts things off further.
Creating a steady routine will enable your body to adapt to regularity. When suffering with a poor mental health, the mind is craving stability because of all these unfamiliar emotions that it is trying to work with. I am extremely fond of; I like to call it “the 2-step wake up approach”. The first step is setting your alarm for the same time every single day and the second step is to have an activity to go to directly after. This could be literally brushing your teeth, going to make a coffee, going for a walk if you feel so inclined, whatever it is, get your body into a habit of knowing it needs to wake up at the same time every day and for a purpose. Even if your purpose is literally to wake up and have a cup a joe, it is going to open the space to include a third step, a fourth and so on.
Finally, motivation is not permanent and the sooner you realise this the better off you will be long term. Just like happiness comes and goes, as does our motivation. It is up to us to give ourselves a break and appreciate that our body is sending a message to our heart that we need rest. Don’t be so hard on yourself during this time, your body is craving self-love, if all you can manage to do right now is wake up, then sit with that, learn to be ok with it. The more resistant you are to your feelings or pushing yourself to feel something else, the less chance there is for growth and recovery. Remember that the universe has your back and right now it may feel like it is against you but in these dark hours, if you can look deep within, it is trying to show you something about yourself that it thinks is worth looking at. Your motivation will come back and then it will probably go away, it is life and you must accept life.