As the fall weather kicks in, shorter days and colder weather can affect our motivation. Weather isn’t the only factor that can make you feel less motivated – difficult life situations and/or mental health conditions can lead to feeling stuck and having low energy. However, there are ways to increase motivation. Find out more below!
How does loss of motivation differ from depression?
Depression and low motivation can share some similarities, but it’s important to know the differences.
A lack of motivation can look like:
Decreased interest in activities you would normally enjoy
Difficulty completing tasks because of reduced energy
Feeling generally apathetic about life
Relying on others to plan events
Having no desire for new experiences
Feeling depressed can include symptoms that last for two or more weeks:
Changes in appetite
Trouble with concentration
Feeling tired or low energy
Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness
With either experience, if you notice any changes that are impacting your daily functioning you may benefit from seeking help.
7 ways to increase motivation
1. Restructure your to-do lists
Having a long list of tasks to complete can be overwhelming and make you want to do nothing. Try cutting down your list to include only items that need prioritizing for the day and leave others for later. If you get through the shorter list and feel like you can do more, go ahead. If not, let yourself be okay with that.
2. Get some exercise
When you’re feeling low in energy it's because your dopamine levels have usually dropped. Going outside for some fresh air or engaging in a workout increases dopamine levels and leaves your brain feeling rejuvenated. This can help you focus on whatever needs to get done.
3. Treat yourself for working
You might feel more motivated if you know there is a reward at the end of a certain task.
For example, if you need to meet a work deadline, you might:
Work for 30 minutes, then spend 10 minutes on social media
Make yourself a warm tea/coffee or grab one to go during a work break
Eat your favourite snack after a period of working
Go on a weekend getaway once the deadline has been met
4. Prioritize self-care
Not taking care of your basic needs can add to the struggle with motivation. Make sure to get adequate sleep, eat well, and spend time doing fun things. Consider whether you are caring for yourself holistically – meaning physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
5. Practice self-compassion
Be kind to yourself if you don’t complete a certain task you set out to do. Putting pressure on yourself can further lessen motivation. Think about what you might say to a friend if they were in the same boat. It may seem easier to be kinder to someone else than yourself but being self-critical doesn’t help anyone. Using positive self-talk and affirmations are ways to be more self-compassionate.
6. Act like you’re motivated
Feeling motivated is just that – a feeling. You can never feel motivated all the time, so instead of waiting for the feeling to come up, act as if it has. Changing your behaviour can affect your emotions – starting a task without thinking about it too much might just increase your motivation.
7. Think about seeking professional help
If you notice that you have been lacking motivation for a while and none of the strategies you have tried are working, consider speaking to a professional. You may need to rule out any related health conditions with your doctor. Or in therapy, you may be able to explore what’s behind your loss of motivation and get guidance around finding alternate solutions.
Experiencing issues with motivation happens to everyone at some point and for different reasons. Just like any other emotional experience, it will pass. Acknowledging that the feeling is there and choosing how you respond to it is what’s important. So take your time to learn what works best for you and your circumstances.