Mental health challenges occur for a variety of reasons. The events that occur in your life can lead to depression, stress, anxiety, and other challenges that make it difficult to want to do anything at all. Short-term stressors are often easily managed, but some stressors such as (seasonal depression or trauma) are not short-term. Long-term stressors that extend for several weeks or months can inevitably wear you down, making you more susceptible to exhaustion, physical illness, and worsening mental stability, including worsening depression and anxiety. All of these challenges, and others, can lead to an utter lack of motivation.
We have all had moments where motivation is lacking or entirely non-existent. Finding the motivation to complete day-to-day tasks and remain engaged in family or personal obligations each day can seem daunting. Unfortunately, lack of motivation relates directly to challenges (or failures) in vital life areas, including cleaning the house, cooking dinner, paying bills, or focusing on work. In other cases, self-care needs, including focusing on physical and mental health and wellness, are put on the back burner when motivation is lacking.
Lack of motivation can prove dangerous for some people, especially when the only way to “find” motivation is through harmful or negative consequences. Having their power shut off, credit cards canceled, losing their jobs, learning of an illness that could have been diagnosed sooner, or other life challenges can spur motivation but often after it’s too late. Things get done, and tasks are accomplished in time, but there is generally a heavy physical and emotional toll beforehand.
The roots of decreased motivation can vary widely. Some people may experience trauma, depression, or other mental health challenges that make it difficult to focus on essential life tasks. For others, physical challenges such as chronic pain or illness lead to the inability to carry out certain tasks. If you find that you struggle to find daily motivation but do not understand why seeking help at a treatment center like The Los Angeles Outpatient Center may help you uncover the reasons behind your symptoms.
It is important to remember that what one person finds motivating may be different for someone else. It is vital to find the tools or “motivators” that work for you. In addition to therapy to learn more about the mental health factors that contribute to reduced motivation, there are a few self-care and lifestyle changes you can try to increase your motivation levels.
Engage in Positive Self-Talk
The brain believes what we tell it. In the book What to Say When You Talk to Yourself, author Shad Helmstetter provides a range of suggestions people can use when working to manage social anxiety and how to adjust their mindset when engaging in self-encouragement. Whether accurate or based on false beliefs, the ideas we follow or “put in our heads” often translate to core beliefs we carry with us into our daily activities.
Also called self-truths, these beliefs can be positive or negative, but either will have a significant impact on our motivations and opinions about what we can accomplish. Negative self-truths such as “I’ll never fit in” or “I can’t do that” have a detrimental impact on personal motivation. By learning how to turn your negative self-truths into positive ones and watch your motivation levels begin to improve.
Limit the Use of Wishful Talk
It is good to wish and even better to have dreams, but sometimes our wishes are very self-limiting and can impact our motivation. Limited wishes are those where we hope for a future state that will solve all of the problems we see with our current situation. Unfortunately, some of the things we wish for are not easily achieved or are even impossible to achieve. Wishing you were taller, younger, etc., are all unattainable wishes.
If you are a full-grown adult and only five feet tall, the truth is you are not likely to grow any taller as you age. Medical science says you are more likely to get shorter. If you are living or striving for the day that impossible dreams come true, it can have a negative impact on your motivation, often because you cannot see the positives in the goals or “wishes” you can and do achieve. It is hard to remain motivated for things that never seem (or can never reasonably) happen.
Focus On Your Accomplishments (So Far)
One of the biggest challenges to remaining motivated is the feeling that you aren’t getting anywhere. The belief that all the things you hope to achieve or become are impossible or beyond achievement can dramatically stifle motivation. As humans, we often measure our success by how far we are from our dreams or ideals instead of how far we have come in the pursuit of those same dreams and plans. This can not only kill your motivation levels but can also cause you to procrastinate or give up entirely.
Changing your mindset around how you view success can help give your motivation levels the boost they may need to move you forward. Don’t measure your success in generalities, measure in specifics. This will help you feel happier, more energized, and more motivated.
Set Measurable and Achievable Goals
Goals are an essential part of motivation because people often need something that drives their desire to succeed. It is easy to set lofty goals with the hopes of achieving them, but often, the goals we set for ourselves may be unattainable or unmeasurable. Your motivation levels will be better served by selecting specific, measurable, attainable goals. This will train your brain to focus on achievable things instead of those that are potentially out of reach.
If we see that we are making real progress towards our goals, it will often spur us to push harder to achieve them. Failure to see progress can often cause you to start comparing your success to those of others, which can immediately stop your motivation. This is not to say you should avoid setting high goals because you absolutely should! However, be sure to have a mix of goals to ensure you can see the benefits of goal setting and how far you’ve come in your accomplishments.
Remember that More Energy Equals Increased Motivation
Energy levels are a huge source of motivation. When we are excited about something, we are usually very motivated to participate. Think back to the last time you experienced a significant achievement. How did it make you feel? Most likely, your energy levels and motivation levels were very high, and you wanted to jump back in and do it again immediately! When we are highly energized about something, we are also highly motivated.
There are several ways to increase energy levels. First, be sure to get enough sleep and follow a healthy diet. Also, incorporating exercise into your daily routine can enhance energy levels as it will improve your physical health. Even simple activities such as walking, going for a hike, or going for a swim can help.
Engage in Self-Care
Mindfulness practices have been part of individual lifestyle choices since The Buddha first introduced them over 2,500 years ago. Mindfulness is defined as being present in our own lives. It is the process of shutting down the “noise” in the environment around us and opening our minds to greater awareness and growth opportunities. Mindfulness and self-care practices improve mental health while promoting physical health and overall emotional well-being. They can also help to calm the mind, which, in turn, helps alleviate anxiety and other emotions that may lead to a lack of motivation.
Self-care and mindfulness practices have been shown to alter how the brain operates. The brain itself is an organ designed to be shaped by experience and practice. Depending on one’s habits or beliefs, shaping can be positive or negative. For example, suppose you repeatedly engage in thoughts (and behaviors) responsible for ongoing depression or reduced motivation. In that case, you were unknowingly shaping your brain in ways that encouraged it to work against you. Self-care exercises allow you to intentionally reshape how your brain works and, as a result, change your thoughts and allow for greater control, awareness, and happiness in all aspects of your life.
Mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga, and other relaxation practices can all promote a sense of inner calm and stillness. Inner relaxation can also be attained through simple actions such as gazing at the night or watching the waves on the ocean. You could also immerse yourself in an activity such as gardening, painting, or playing music. The important thing is to find what works for you and use this when you need to go to a quiet place to still your mind and reinvigorate your motivation.
When you struggle with reduced motivation, it may seem impossible to pick yourself up and get things done. There are several reasons why your motivation may struggle. If self-care or lifestyle changes do not work, consider contacting a member of our treatment team here at The Los Angeles Outpatient Center. It is not uncommon for reduced motivation levels to evolve out of untreated or undiagnosed mental health concerns. Symptoms such as fatigue, depression, isolation, withdrawal, and others accompanying reduced motivation also occur with many mental health diagnoses.
Choosing to seek help at a treatment center provides the opportunity to learn more about why you feel unmotivated. At our Los Angeles area treatment center, we offer several therapeutic programs that can help you better understand your current mental health and learn more about coping and self-care techniques you can use to improve motivation and overall emotional and spiritual health. Let us help you find the most effective ways to get your motivation levels back!
Contact our admissions team today for more information about our programs.