In the last 2 posts about exercise and depression, I discussed how to help depression. We talked about how exercise helps depression, why it’s important to exercise even if you take an antidepressant, and how to create a plan with achievable goals that are broken down into smaller action steps. Now its time to think about how to stay motivated when depressed. The motivation for exercise doesn’t come easily to many people. It is hard to get started with exercise but it also can be hard to keep going. Old habits can creep back in try to slow down your progress. Learn how to overcome depression and stay well.
In case you missed it, here are links to the previous posts:
- Treating Depression with Exercise
- Exercise and Depression: How to get started when you want to stay in bed
How to Help Depression: Give yourself a pat on the back
Feeling proud of what you accomplish will help you stay motivated. When you set up goals and action plans thoughtfully it’s easier to maintain motivation for exercise because the plan has achievable steps. Each time you accomplish your goal it will give you a boost that makes it is easier to keep going.
Make a big deal when you achieve the goal. Take the time to pat yourself on the back and say “I took care of myself today and achieved my goal of walking for 10 minutes! Great job!”.
If you feel good about what you are doing it is easier to keep building on your success and stay motivated.
When someone is depressed, it is hard to feel positive feelings and pride. If you feel like this, I want to remind you that it is still important to say positive things to yourself. Take the time to celebrate even when you don’t feel happy inside. This is how to overcome depression. The more you start to shift your mindset towards the positive the quicker you will begin to pull yourself out of the depths of depression.
Start to add more positive thoughts to your day by using mantras. Learn more about how to get started with these with 30 examples to get you going: 30 Healing Mantras for Depression
Motivation for exercise: Schedule it on your calendar
Plan out your exercise ahead of time. Is your goal to run 1 mile 3 times each week? Schedule it on your calendar and check it off when you are done. Make sure to keep putting it on your calendar week after week so that you stay motivated. Don’t let excuses win. Motivation is hard when you are depressed so it’s essential to plan ahead of time.
Don’t schedule everything else you need to do but leave out exercise if you want to stay motivated. Life gets busy and if it isn’t on the calendar it becomes an afterthought and feels optional. It will be harder to maintain motivation for exercise. Things that don’t make it to your calendar seem less important than the items that made it into the books.
I mentioned this organizing series in the last post too. These Bloom Calendars are perfect for someone who is depressed and trying to get motivated (or anyone trying to feel more motivated). Schedule your exercise into one of these calendars and use the motivational quotes and goal setting reminders to keep you going.
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This daily planner is designed to increase productivity and happiness and includes a habit tracker and gratitude journal. The one I linked to is not dated but you can also buy these specific to the year.
How to Stay Motivated When Depressed: A friend can make it easier.
Enlist the help of a trusted friend or loved one to make your plan feel easier to start and maintain. There are lots of people that struggle to exercise so it is likely you have someone close to you that will benefit from the shared commitment and motivation for exercise.
Pick your accountability partner wisely. It’s important to enlist the help of someone that will increase the chance you will meet your goals. You don’t want your friend to provide you more excuses to skip exercise than you give yourself. The ideal support person will not be someone who stresses you out or adds to the negativity in your life.
Find the right person and start this journey together. You can support and help each other to stay motivated.
Dr. Nadia Sabray’s wrote a great post on forming new habits and the importance of accountability partners: The Secret to Forming New Habits
How to Overcome Depression: Review the steps
Hopefully, after reading these posts you better understand how to help depression and the importance of adding in exercise to your treatment. If you haven’t already, sit down now and write your action plan, schedule exercise on your calendar, and get started right away. Use tools to help you stay motivated when depressed. Little by little chip away at the depression until you are recovered.
Let’s review these 3 posts about how to start exercising and begin to recover from depression.
Be gentle with yourself. Recovery from depression takes time. Remember that depression plays tricks on your brain and can convince you that it is best to stay in bed because nothing will ever get better. Don’t listen. Even if you don’t believe it’ll make a difference, take the steps that are healthy for yourself. They will pay off in the end. You are worth it so keep fighting!
Interested in reading more about how to overcome depression?
Visit my Mental Health Bookstore for recommended books about depression and other mental health topics.
Books to help you overcome depression:
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