Over 14 million American adults struggle with depression. It's not as simple as "getting the blues" now and again or feeling in a temporary slump. There are times when getting out of bed feels as difficult as an Olympic event; a fact that shouldn't be swept under the rug. But, it's important to keep moving forward, no matter how slowly that occurs.
Here are 10 ways to encourage yourself to get going, even when it feels like the hardest thing in the world:
1. Take baby steps.
On the days when it feels like a chore to move or breathe, even getting out of bed seems like a triumph. And really, it is. Take things one small step at a time, and don't worry about anything beyond the step immediately in front of you. Focus on taking a shower. Focus on getting dressed. Focus on showing up at work. Celebrate these milestones along the way.
2. Think of how much better it will be once it's done. If the task is something particularly dreadful, remind yourself that as soon as it's done, it'll be over and won't be on your plate anymore. It might not bring a wave of relief, but at least it won't be looming around.
3. Prioritize what you need to do. There are some days when there is so much to do, the weight of it can crush you. It's all too easy to become incapacitated by it and take a nap or get lost in Candy Crush, but try to organize that to-do list instead. Take care of the ones that absolutely can't be put off, that way it's not too big of a deal if you don't get to some of the less important ones.
4. Take a breather when needed. There will be times it's not possible to keep going and do everything in one shot. That's OK. Do what you can do when you can do it, and take a break when you feel overwhelmed. Slow and steady will win this race.
5. Try to take feelings out of the matter and get it done as quickly as possible. This one is incredibly difficult to do on bad days, but it actually does work to just get the ball rolling. On the days where even the most routine task feels really daunting, try to remind yourself that it needs to get done. You're not doing it because you want to, you're doing it because you have to. Acknowledge your personal reservations and then proceed as best you can anyway.
6. Ask for help.
If the task at hand is too much for you to bear alone — don't do it alone. Ask a relative, friend, or coworker to help you out if you feel like you need assistance. Asking for assistance not easy to do and it might seem better to just struggle along with what you're doing than to admit you're having trouble, but it's always okay to get the help you need.
7. Get some exercise. Though this can seem like a chore in itself, even taking a walk can boost brain activity, making it easier to deal with other tasks. Additionally, scientists have confirmed the identity of a hormone that makes you feel better after working out, so prioritizing exercise will help with other aspects of your life as well.
8. Give yourself a break. Everyone makes mistakes, but when someone is depressed or anxious, something small can quickly become an all-consuming nightmare. Sure, it's important to want to give your best all the time, but recognize that there are some days where your best is not going to be perfect, and that's perfectly okay.
9. Reduce stressful triggers. If a phone that constantly beeps with notifications from email and Facebook stresses you out to try and keep up with them, turn those settings off. If driving on a particular road into work feels like too much, try a new route. Identify things that make your depression or anxiety worse, and try to change the things you can.
10. Congratulate yourself for what you have accomplished. There are days where it's hard to put both feet on the ground and get motivated. Remember that doing something is better than doing nothing, and the something you did is worth being proud of. It's easier to tell yourself you can do something when you think of all the things you did do.
REMEMBER: Depression is a serious matter. If you or someone you know has expressed thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak to a trained counselor.
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