View Full Version : Motivation advice needed

Denise in Michigan
08-19-2008, 06:00 PM
To make a long story short, there's not an area of my life that I don't need to make changes in. Everything from attitude and eating habits to job and family relationships. I'm feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed--it all needs work at the same time and I don't know what to do.

I've had a problem with low-level depression all of my life, and have responded well to medication and talk therapy. I am currently on medication and have been for 17 years. I'm sure that depression plays a role in my current inability to take action. My family doctor is kind of at a loss and says he thinks that more therapy is the next step, but I really don't want to talk.

I need practical suggestions for how to break out of this. What has worked for you?

08-19-2008, 06:48 PM

I'm not sure I can help with motivation as it is something that I lack. One thing that I have found helps is to look at the details rather than the whole. Even the smallest thing can change things for the better.

Make a list of everything you would like to change. Break those down into smaller goals. Figure out what you need to do to accomplish each goal.

For example, maybe you want to eat less junk food. Your list would look something like this.

1. Eat less junk food
- throw out any junk food in the house
- don't buy any more.
- buy healthier snack food (granola bars, fruit, yogurt, etc)

Give yourself a few weeks to get used to each change before moving on to the next. Once you've accomplished one goal, reward yourself. My suggestion is to pick something before you start that will keep you motivated. Something that you would be unlikely to buy or do otherwise. Like a really expensive yarn or a massage.

Just remember that you don't have to do it all and it's okay to slip up and have a bag of chips or a chocolate bar or whatever. You're allowed. I've heard that people who allow themselves a mistake every now and then are more likely to achieve their goal than people that don't.

I hope that helps.

08-19-2008, 07:34 PM
I agree with Jodi. You can't look just at the big picture of all that you want to accomplish. You'll get way too overwhelmed and end up not getting any of it done. At least, that's what happens to me.
Make lists, but break down each thing that you want to get done into doable items on your list. And don't make one big list. Again, way too overwhelming. Make a list for each area that you want to work on in your life.

I don't have a problem with depression, but I do have ADD without hyperactivity. That means instead of the classic hyper ADD person that you probably think of, I am sluggish and have a hard time starting tasks and sometimes finishing them. I make lists for everything in my life. Even housework. Something about seeing tasks written down makes me want to do it more.

08-19-2008, 07:51 PM
Try reading book "feeling good" by Dr. Burns. Read the section on doing nothingism.

Take Care

08-19-2008, 09:38 PM
There is a saying "Just do the next right thing" In other words, don't worry about the massive amount of challenges you feel you must confront, simply concentrate on doing the next thing in line. Don't worry about losing 30lbs, skip dessert at the meal you are eating. Don't worry about becoming a new person, concentrate on remaining positive in your next interaction. You are not in this boat alone. The best of luck.

08-19-2008, 09:47 PM
So here's my $0.02 and take it for just that ... for me personally I have a frustration journal. I mainly write in the middle of the night about all the things that keep me up or that I just can say out loud for one reason or another. Then I keep a running "to do" list. It includes everything I want to get done in a day or week. Personally, I really can't focus too much further ahead than a week or I get overwhelmed.
Concentrate on YOURSELF first and OTHERS second.
Make changes slowly
REWARD yourself - seriously - put stars on your calander when you check something off your list or meet your personal goal for that day - which can be as easy as call person x or eat only 2 scoops of ice cream or go for a 20min walk and do 15 sit-ups. When you get 10 stars take yourself out for a new hank of yarn or to a movie or have a glass of good wine.

08-20-2008, 10:43 AM
I found that some exercise helps me. I too struggle with motivation and SAD. My 2 dogs insist on a walk every day. I find getting out of bed pulling on my coveralls and going to the barn to feed the horses and then the dogs before I do anything else gets me started.
I then make my coffee and grap a travel mug and head up my hill for a half hour hike with my dogs. I love being out in the fresh air regardless of the weather and feel invigorated when I get back. If I wait to walk until later in the day I find that I find excuses not to do it and I spin my wheels and feel bad for not accomplishing much throughout the day.
As the others have said pick something to focus on and do that until it becomes automatic and then build.

Denise in Michigan
08-20-2008, 02:59 PM
Thank you all so much for the help and kind words--I'm at a standstill, a turning point, and I really need them.
You have posted some wonderful ideas here: make lists, focus on details, break things down into managable goals rather than "big picture" views, not trying to change everything at once, read helpful books, "do the next right thing", reward myself for reaching goals (I always felt great in school when I got a star!), start the day actively. I'm going to print out what you've written so that I can have your thoughts with me, can review and appreciate them, as I try to refocus and renew my life.
I can't express how much your experiences and advice mean to me.

Sunshine's Mom
08-20-2008, 03:48 PM
Thank you all so much for the help and kind words--I'm at a standstill, a turning point, and I really need them.
You have posted some wonderful ideas here: make lists, focus on details, break things down into managable goals rather than "big picture" views, not trying to change everything at once, read helpful books, "do the next right thing", reward myself for reaching goals (I always felt great in school when I got a star!), start the day actively. I'm going to print out what you've written so that I can have your thoughts with me, can review and appreciate them, as I try to refocus and renew my life.
I can't express how much your experiences and advice mean to me.

And also remember that you have loads of friends here that are happy to listen and cheer you on. :hug:

08-20-2008, 04:05 PM
My advice isn't really any different from what people have said above. I've probably had small bouts of depression because it goes hand-in-hand with something else that I definitely suffer from: anxiety. I use lists a lot because I'm motivated to cross things off as I finish them and writing things down that I want to accomplish helps me to remember to do them.

My thing right now is budgeting and paying down my credit card debt. With all of the numbers, it obviously helped to make a spreadsheet, but I also bank online, so now I can see exactly where my money should be and actually is all of the time. If you have any goals that you can quantify (weight loss, money, time spent on things you find worthwhile, etc.) that might also help. When you do well, you'll know exactly how well you did and you can be really proud of yourself. When you miss a goal, you'll know what to aim for next time or you will realize that smaller goals are needed.

It is all about breaking it down into smaller bits like everyone has said. When you do well with those small things, the big picture isn't so scary anymore! :hug:

Denise in Michigan
08-21-2008, 03:47 PM
Reading that I have "...loads of friends here that are happy to listen and cheer you on" brought tears to my eyes. I'm sure that many of us have spent our entire lives dealing with our most difficult problems alone; we don't know how to ask others about their experiences and strategies. I have found it so easy to type "I need knitting help with...", but the hardest words I've ever had to type have been in this thread.
Two concepts that everyone here has emphasized are breaking challenges down into smaller tasks and taking pride in progress toward goals. Today I take pride in having accomplished my first tasks: asking for your advice and realizing what a valuable treasure it is. Thank you, friends.

08-21-2008, 04:18 PM
:grphug: Having friends is one of the great joys of life. So glad we could be of help.

08-21-2008, 06:16 PM
Yes, we are here to be your cheerleaders or just to listen if you need to vent. :hug:

08-21-2008, 06:24 PM
I can sympathise so :hug:

I have low-level depression to (have had for as long as i can remember) which occasionally gets very bad. Motivation can be a big big issue.

When i see that i am getting into a rut, or possibly sinking into a low patch, i desperatly try and do somthing about it.
First, and one of the big things that helps is good food and pleanty of water. As much fresh fruit and veg as i can get and lighter meals things that feel and are full of goodness and energy. I avoid anythng that can be classed as comfort food.

For motivation i set myself goals. things like 'This week i will do 10 minutes of yoga every day' just small things and aparantly nothing to do with what i actually need to get done, but doing somthing and somthing small and easy just gives me a kickstart.
I also do two things which seem to contradict each other.
Firstly i set an alarm to make sure i am getting up and moving at a good time everyday and not stying in bed being lazy. I need to get into a routine of doing things.
Secondly i try and break up whatever routines i have so that i am not stuck in a rut. If i find that recently have been watching the same TV program everyday i will make sure that i do not have the TV on at that time. Even if i am not being productive, just doing somthing else reminds me that i dont have to be doing that at this time of day and the world will not end if instead i spend the time doing somthing (else which can be productive.

08-22-2008, 03:19 AM
i get low level depression and stress in a big way. i can so relate to where you are coming from.

what i do is make a goal list, so say by the end of the month i want to have changed 2 small things or 1 bigger thing.
you need to get yourself a reward structure though, i wont allow myself to buy any more yarn until i have achieved a goal. as i am an adict (like most of us i guess hey lol) its a huge thing for me.

i like to do excersise as that does make me feel better and clears my head when i start getting stressed about life.

you have loads of great friends here that will help you with anything and everything we can.
i do like the goal list because i have the aim to hit 1 of the 2 properly but try and get both done. i expect to fail on 1 though so i dont beat myself up if i fail at it.

its a horrible feeling when you get there :hug:

08-22-2008, 04:13 AM
Today I take pride in having accomplished my first tasks: asking for your advice and realizing what a valuable treasure it is.

There you go, a BIG first step!

I love being a part of this group, knitters are some of the friendliest people on the planet.

One of our good friends is a professional organizer, goes into folks homes and helps them out. It's mostly life counseling, which doesn't surprise me at all. Little by little, they chip away at the physical mess, as well as the emotions that led to it.

08-24-2008, 02:18 PM
Hi Denise. Whew, yeah. It's so hard to change. I've been really really trying to lately. I think the biggest thing well, this was put well by Sophie:

to try and break routines

I've found the thing that will have an effect big time is to do something completely new and different. Completely different! Even if you have to drive an hour or two to find it... I just joined a writer's workshop, writing memoirs. I didn't even want to go and sort of forced myself ten minutes before, I was just in a really bad mood.
I felt so good after those 3 hours with these other women. I'm going back, once a month. Someone famous ha said the best cure for depression is to go out and help someone else. (wish I could remember who that was) I've been meaning to do that for so long, some volunteer work. Esp with children or elders. Maybe you could look into that too. And something FUN. A dance class?
Something silly but fun. I think that would really help. Sometimes you have to just push yourself out the door and do the damn thing. ha good luck

Denise in Michigan
03-06-2009, 06:09 PM
I just want to say "thank you" again to the folks who responded to this thread. I review your words often...you have each helped me many times in the past seven months!

03-06-2009, 07:58 PM
Make a game plan and then follow it one step at a time, starting with what you know you can accomplish (eating healthier... trust me, that's huge right now after spending 4 days worrying my dh had a silent heart attack like they said at the ER and getting into our cardiologist.. read your sodium content!)

Sign up for a cooking class, you'll make some new friends and learn how to cook healthy.

When you get the urge for junk food, put that money in a jar that you've glued the lid shut, but put a hole in the lid just big enough to put money in. At the end of the month, look at the money you've got for YARN :) or something else you want.

Family relationships are what they are. You can only do so much so do what you feel you reasonably can and put the ball in their court.

Jobs... well, what do you want from life? what makes you happy? only you can answer those. Once you have that answered, come up with logical steps you need to take to accomplish those goals.

03-06-2009, 10:15 PM
I went through some rough times a few years ago with family and financial issues, that led to depression. I found that walking helped me more than anything else. I particularly like walking in state or county parks along the marked trails. I would repeat over and over to myself, "You are smart. You are strong. You are a good person." It may sound silly, but it really helped. If you are near Sterling State park, there are some nice trails there.

There have been some great suggestions for you in the replies. I agree too. Make small changes. Don't go for everything at once.

03-06-2009, 10:53 PM
You could be living in a van down by the river?

*Sorry, I didn't read thru this thread, it was just my need to make some smart a$$ comment that took over*

Denise in Michigan
03-07-2009, 02:48 PM
LilHuskies, you're right. One step at a time is the way to go; trying to change an entire life all at once is impossible. Did you get your husband in to the cardiologist? I hope things are going better.

Ladytruckdriver, your mention of walking in parks really hit home with me. Sometimes while driving, I realize how appealing it could be to just turn the wheel and slam into a solid object. I drive instead to a nearby park I've known well for over thirty years, and it feels like, I don't know...it feels like it's where I need to be at that moment. Thank you for your recommendation of Sterling State Park. I looked it up on the DNR website and it looks beautiful! No wonder you've found peace there.

JessicaR, thank you for your reality check. It's true that I have both challenges and unlooked-for gifts for which to be grateful. I can use both to grow.

03-08-2009, 10:40 AM
Denise, it is wonderful to hear that even though things are still tough you are making progress.
Little steps. :)

Im always amazed at how loving and sympathetic people on these boards are. I would like to add my thanks for not only being helpful but for also providing a space were we talk when we need to .

03-08-2009, 05:28 PM
I don't have any suggestions to add here. The ones given are good, especially walking the trails at the park (or just exercising in general). "Michigan" and "Sterling State Park" caught my eye here. I'm very close to SSP, as I live in southern MI! If you're near Toledo, Ohio (which is where I am), Wildwood Park in Toledo is absolutely GORGEOUS! In fact, I just took an hour-long walk there on Friday night.

If you need an ear, I'm here.

03-08-2009, 05:42 PM
For me, creative expression has always helped me to lift my head up and get on with life... whether that's pasting some pictures into a collage or painting or cutting with scissors... It's accomplishing something that makes you feel good about yourself and it doesn't have to be much for a start to get the ball rolling.
Knitting is doing it for me right now but before I used to do quilts with fabric bits, or paint with acrylics... - especially when you forget to follow the pattern and just go with your own ideas.
No one else has to see them. You aren't doing it for anyone but yourself.
If you don't feel like talking about it any more - try expressing it in 'art'... write poetry for instance...
Poetry is a great way to express how you are feeling. You aren't writing the stuff down to show anyone - or you could - that is up to you.. but the main thing is to get it all out. It's amazing how much better that can make a person feel.
Just getting outside is another great emotion lifter.
My Mama used to say - 'go hug a tree'. I don't suppose she meant I should hug a bunch of trees - she meant to feel the trees - their strength, their longevity... and a walk in the woods couldn't hurt.
Don't worry about what others think... listen to your own spirit - you may have been neglecting it lately and because of that - the body soon follows suit. It become sickly and tired... not a fun thing at all.
TEMA :hug:

03-09-2009, 09:09 AM
Have you considered getting a life coach? On another board I visit, one of the life coaches there recommended someone trained by this group: http://www.thecoaches.com/index.html There's a Find-a-Coach link at the very top of the page.

03-09-2009, 05:39 PM
I have had to fight depression for years. Something that my Dr. keeps an eye on is my Vit. D level. There is a link between your Vit. D levels and depression. Low D levels can equal depression.

You have gotten lots of really good advise, the one thing I would add is to have your Doc check your D levels.

Good Luck.