How to Get Motivated When Depressed: Practical Steps in Recovery

Depression is the most common mental health disorder around the world, and people in recovery are more likely to struggle with symptoms of depression as they make major transitions, such as leaving a treatment program and returning to their regular lives or trying to go back to school, start a new relationship, or deal with a trigger.

Depression can affect:

  • Appetite
  • Sleep 
  • Outlook 
  • Relationships
  • Self-esteem
  • Motivation 

How to Get Motivated When Depressed in Recovery

Everyone struggles with motivation from time to time, and when you are in recovery, it can be even more challenging because small changes or triggers can result in a flare-up of symptoms. So, how can you get motivated when depressed? Below are some practical steps you can use in recovery.

Break Up Big Tasks

When you are setting goals in addiction recovery, every task on your to-do list can feel overwhelming. Depression, stress, anxiety, and isolation don't help either. Getting started is often the hardest part, as the mind begins to ruminate over what might happen if the task is done or not done, how little time is left, and so on. 

You can tackle this by breaking any task into more manageable chunks. Even something as small as "doing laundry" can be broken into:

  1. Putting laundry in the washing machine
  2. Moving laundry to the dryer
  3. Folding laundry
  4. Putting it away

Or, even smaller, like:

  1. Putting laundry in the washing machine
  2. Moving laundry to the dryer
  3. Putting essential socks and underwear away
  4. Folding and putting away towels
  5. Hanging shirts
  6. Hanging pants

When you complete each small part in the sequence, give yourself a reward for reaching your goal. 

Listen to Music

Several studies have confirmed the different types of music can impact things like:

  • Tension
  • Mental clarity
  • Mood

The type of music you choose will also have a direct impact. For example, music with special effects like the sound of nature can increase mental clarity, relaxation, and caring while also decreasing sadness, attention, and fatigue. As such, music can alter emotional states and mood, causing immune and hormonal changes because of the profound impact on cardiovascular, immune system function, and neuroendocrine function.

Tip: Create a playlist you can turn to when you are feeling depressed. Start with songs that are slower and more relaxing and gradually increase to more uplifting and faster-paced songs to uplift your mood progressively. 

Be Active Daily

Depression can stop you from taking care of yourself through things like good diet, good sleep, and exercise.

No matter how you are feeling, regular exercise can relieve physical muscle tension and tackle struggles with recovery. Most people don't realize how much tension they hold in their bodies as they move through their day. 

It is important to be active every day and find an activity you like best. There is no single solution, so don't hesitate to try things like:

  • Taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator
  • Parking at the back of every parking lot and walking briskly
  • Swimming
  • Walking around the neighborhood
  • Doing jumping jacks in the living room for 5 minutes

Whatever you do, make sure you do at least one thing each day, even if it's only for a few minutes. If you need to, call someone else to support you by going for a walk with you. 

Incorporate Quality Time with Others

Depression can make you pull away from others, but that's the last thing you need.

Socialization is an important way to rebuild motivation in a practical way. While you might not have the motivation to do anything when you're depressed, sometimes knowing that someone else is coming over or relying on you to meet with them is enough to get you moving.

Tip: Make plans to spend quality time every week with friends or family. If you live with other people, like family or roommates, set a reminder to spend a few minutes together every day where you:

  • Talk about your feelings 
  • Share a trial and success from that day
  • Watch a movie
  • Play a board game
  • Cook and share a meal
  • Learn a hobby or skill
  • Take an online class

If you don't live near your friends or family, set up Zoom meetings or FaceTime them so that you stay connected. If you're struggling to reconnect with friends or family in your recovery, spend quality time with support groups or alumni groups from your treatment program. 

Overall, dealing with depression in recovery is normal, and there are an endless number of things you can try to boost your mood when you are feeling low. Not everything will work every time you are struggling with symptoms of depression, and sometimes, you may need to use more than one thing. What matters most is that you come at it from a place of self-love and compassion.

If you are looking to start your recovery journey at a trusted drug rehab in Reno, choose The Differents. We offer dual-diagnosis treatments that help treat addiction and mental health issues, like depression, simultaneously. Contact us today,.