Let me preface this post by saying that I am not a doctor. I merely have first-person experience with losing motivation. Honestly, my desire to avoid cleaning up my house is what is helping me rationalize that this post is more important. The irony, right?
1. Refer to Your To-Do List
After I had my firstborn, I had Postpartum Depression (PPD). I have all sorts of memories and feelings tied to those dark months. The funny thing is with PPD, or with any depression really, is that it wipes away a piece of your functionality. Most days I could not function past the daily chores of feeding a screaming baby, changing diapers, and feeding myself. But it was more than just not functioning, my brain couldn’t even process what it SHOULD be doing or getting done. It was as though depression had made me dumb. I was ‘depression dumb’. Shall we coin this term now?
My husband saw the situation for what it was and knew I needed help. I was losing ground fast. I was slowly forgetting how to do basic things, like shower regularly. At the time, he worked close to home and was able to come home for lunch. He left in the morning and gave me ONE chore to complete before his return for lunch. Just one.
We had a baby bottle warmer (you know how it is with your first child, right?). The water inside was needing to be changed. My one chore was to dump the water out and fill the cup back up. I didn’t have to clean it. I didn’t have to do any special treatment to it. I had to dump the water out and fill it back up. Guess what? I DID IT! I felt like I had conquered the world. I was given a task and I completed it. My husband was so proud of me. He sincerely congratulated me and I enjoyed the satisfaction of completing a task.
So, what does this have to do with referring to a to-do list or even getting motivated? One of the largest road blocks I face is battling ‘depression dumb’ (it’s already catching on, isn’t it?). I get in a funk and my mind goes completely blank on what I should be doing.
I create my To-Do List during those moments when my brain is actively thinking of all the many things that need to get done. I’m a wife and mother, there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done. Now with smartphones, I have downloaded a free app called Task List – To Do List. Since I regularly have my phone on me, it’s easy to update the list when the thought hits me.
It’s even more common that I have my phone on me when I’m avoiding life and getting lost in social medias. Anyone else out there a victim to the time-thief known as social media?
Those times when I sit there trying to forget all that should be getting done, I pull out the list and get a reminder of all the ways that I can actively engage in my daily life. I sometimes put the smallest of tasks on there just so that I can have the satisfaction of completing a task. Because sometimes you need to dump out the water and fill the cup back up and you have some added motivation.
2. Change of Position
I dread the idea of even having to do this one. This method of getting motivated is most needed for me when I’ve found myself wanting desperately to escape my downs through sleeping. The idea is that whatever position you are currently in when you feel yourself slipping deeper into the blues, you change it.
This suggestion was offered up once in a therapy session when I confessed that I was taking ridiculously long naps during the day. I wasn’t getting anything done and my kids were being baby-sat by the TV. It breaks my heart thinking about all that I missed during this bout of depression and how neglected my kids must have felt.
My therapist revoked me of my napping rights. I had to keep moving. Laying down was feeding the depression.
For others it may mean sitting down and taking a break. Some people lose sight of a healthy balance when they are constantly running their lives at a break-neck pace. Perhaps that person feels most down when they don’t have a moment to sit. Maybe they’re wondering what’s all the rush for and it makes them sad to think they’ve lost site of the quiet moments. Quiet moments are needed to reset the priorities of our motivations.
Simply put, change your position.
The past couple of days, I felt the signs of ‘depression dumb’ coming on. I was quickly losing motivation, functionality, and engagement in my world. Realizing I was withdrawing, I saw that I needed to reach out to my friends. Guess what? It turns out they were having their own struggles and unfinished tasks.
As I found ways to serve these friends, I noticed that my blues were dissipating and my functionality was returning. I was processing thoughts. I was useful for a moment or two. Service is an amazing blessing for all parties involved. It isn’t always the easiest to perform or even be motivated for in the first place, but it always brings about more good.
A fresh perspective, the joy in knowing you lightened a burden, and the break from the monotony can do wonders for motivating yourself with your own life.
4. Go for A Walk
You’re probably thinking what I’m thinking, “I’d love to go for a walk, IF I WERE MOTIVATED!” Agreed. This suggestion may need to go hand and hand with another suggestion from this list.
As a young girl, my parents would take me on walks at night. As I grew, the walks continued. Some of the greatest conversations I have had with my parents were on walks with them. When I got married, my husband and I would go on long walks too. I can recall countless times in all of these walks when I started the walk with nothing to say. By the end of the walks, I felt like I had accomplished world peace. Thoughts, ideas, hypotheticals, goals, and deep discussions were had on these many walks.
There’s something about getting that blood flowing that opens the mind and motivates the body to follow suit.
5. Play Music
This suggestion only really works if you enjoy music. I happen to love music. I happen to hate cleaning. But if I mix something I love with something I hate, usually the love wins out.
When my husband and I were first dating, I would ask him what he wanted to go and do. His response was often the same, “I could be shoveling shit against the tide and it would be fun if I were doing it with you.” Nothing says romance like a vision of shoveling shit with your mate. Amazingly though, it was a sweet point that he was trying to get across.
Doing something you hate, doesn’t have to be miserable. Add something you love into the mix to make the time go by faster. Adding laughter to a task would also serve as a great motivator for me. Perhaps that’s why the idea of shoveling shit with my husband sounds splendid. I know he would have me laughing the whole time.
6. Grab a Dr. Pepper
When all else fails, grab a soda. Certainly not advice received from a doctor, hence my disclaimer at the beginning.
In the 1950’s, Dr. Pepper’s slogan was “the friendly Pepper-Upper”. It certainly is friendly. I can vouch for that. When I drink it, I become more friendly. A friendly Sara is a motivated Sara. I like to drink my friendliness right into me.
So, there you have it; six ways to get motivated. Now, in my efforts to motivate myself to clean my home, I am going to combine suggestion 2 and 5 to start making things happen over here in our home.
What gets you motivated?