Medical and psychological materials note that there’s often a clear link between depression and a loss of motivation. If you’re in the “no motivation” mood, the thoughts below might clear up the problem.
Losing a loved one or a relationship, or moving to a new place can be stressful to the point that you feel listless. College students can feel lost and depressed when it comes to failing grades and frustrated goals. Job loss and retirement can lead to depression also. The writer of this article used to supervise medical records in a prestigious New York mental health facility, where she had medical file drawers filled with psychological records about deeply depressed recent retirees. The loss of work led to a depressing loss of identity. People tend to identify with what they do, not what they value.
The above scenarios, and others, can lead to a confused sense of identity plus the need to restructure your sense of self and your goals. Starting over is not simple, not fun, and not a clearly defined set of tasks to be accomplished. That sounds depressing and it is.
Many depressed and consequently unmotivated people find themselves in a rut watching too much TV, wasting time online, and losing interest in preparing satisfying meals let alone perking up with sensible hygiene and clean, flattering clothing. Bored? That’s a frequent symptom of depression. You begin to wonder “What is life about, anyway? I can’t achieve my goals. Damn, I don’t want to do anything anymore.” You reach a point when you don’t even know why you exist. That’s a depressing thought.
Let’s back up a bit and focus on the need to restructure your sense of self. Begin with the question “Who am I and what’s my purpose in life?” Yes, the answers can relight your passion for life.
Finding your purpose:
No matter the reason that someone feels depressed and/or unmotivated, a person tends to feel wistful for the individual whom they once believed themselves to be or the person they were becoming. Somehow, that sense of identity doesn’t seem relevant anymore. But it can be. Find out by identifying what has always bothered you about the world since you were a teen or even younger, the problems that you wanted to address and to correct, perhaps to end forever. Spend time on those thoughts and write them down, or record them verbally. Values matter.
Identify the skills that you’re good at plus the qualities that make you different from other people. Why have people complimented you? What makes someone remark that you’re special? Go ahead, write down those answers, or record them verbally, too.
Put the all the answers together and you’ll be closer to understanding the unique gifts that you bring to the world, insights and talents that other people lack. You’ll be able to realize “Who” you are, what you want to accomplish, and how you can do that.
Focus on activities which draw your attention and energies. What do you tend to find irresistible? Correcting injustices, preparing delicious foods, healing illness, providing helpful insights, building theoretical or physical structures that solve problems, etc. just might be what always motivated you. But, somehow, you failed to build on that realization. Now that you’re more aware of the reasons that make you want to get up each morning, focus on how to use your interests and skills to shape your productive future. Reboot. Your mood will lift in many ways from realizing what you exist for, why, and what you can do about it.
You might want to self-medicate your misery in order to feel less of it, but skip the booze, coffee, casual sex, and pills. They’ll cause side effects that bring on new problems and you have enough of your original difficulties to finesse. Put on your best exercise shoes and walk every day. Walk on errands. Walk on purpose. Walk on staircases instead of taking elevators or escalators. Move muscles. That gets your blood and some happiness-producing chemicals moving all over your body, including your brain. You might even find out that the old “no motivation” problem lessens or stops altogether because those chemicals are energizing you, your level of insight and your level of creativity. Solutions seem to enter your mind out of nowhere. You might feel enough enthusiasm to join a gym or to do more serious workouts at home. Play some baseball, basketball, go boating or hiking. Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of doing things that fill you with a sense of life. Keep that up and you’ll stop remembering when or why you felt “no motivation.”
If seeking out a therapist can speed up your recovery from depression and loss of motivation, find one who brings out your best qualities. They’re waiting for exposure.