How to Get Motivated When You're Feeling Down
Do you ever feel like you just can't get motivated to do anything? Perhaps it's because your brain is telling you that it doesn't want to. In this blog post, we'll explore the science of motivation and how to overcome procrastination in order to be more productive.
In order for us humans to function properly, our brains require a certain amount of dopamine from the body--a neurotransmitter that helps control moods and movement. The problem is that when we're not stimulated by new experiences or challenges, our brains start producing less dopamine--and therefore, lower motivation levels.
So if you find yourself feeling unmotivated, don't worry! It means your brain needs a little boost! We've got some tips below that may help you get that extra motivation sprout and put your brain back in the game.
The Different Types of Motivation
Depending on the situation, you'll have a specific motivation for a specific need.
Intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation
The two main types of motivation (intrinsic vs. extrinsic) is a distinction that has been widely studied in the areas of education, occupational and clinical psychology.
Intrinsic motivation is when one's motivational forces are driven from within, whereas extrinsic motivation is when one's internal forces are prompted by external factors such as rewards or punishments.
Intrinsic motivation is usually defined in terms of three main aspects: interest in the task, task experience (i.e., the knowledge that one is completing a given activity), and effort expended in carrying out or completing the task.
Examples of intrinsic motivation include:
participating in a bingo night because it's fun and you enjoy time with friends rather than doing it to win a prize.
Studying a new language because you like learning new things, not because you need it for your job.
Putting time and effort into an activity just for the sake of the experience.
People go to work each day with intrinsic motivation, such as having a passion or interest in their job and seeing that they are making a difference in helping others.
Extrinsic motivation (or external motivation) is often thought of as involving norms, expectations, or contingencies related to performance; however, some researchers distinguish between extrinsic motivation with external rewards and extrinsic motivation with internalized incentives. Internalized incentives are an individual's cognitive representation of reward expectations for particular performances or achievements. That is to say, they may be accessible to conscious awareness, but they do not need to be consciously maintained.
Examples of extrinsic motivation include exerting effort to obtain rewards or avoid punishments.
A common way that people motivate themselves is to set goals. Setting goals can help direct attention toward specific behaviours required to reach a goal which in turn increases motivation to perform those behaviours (if they are consistent with one's intrinsic agenda).
Another factor that plays into intrinsic and extrinsic motivations is what has come to be known as "flow." Flow is typically thought of as an optimal state of consciousness where one becomes totally absorbed in the activity at hand; intrinsic motivation helps fuel flow states by providing individuals with a sense of enjoyment and challenge.
If an individual is intrinsically motivated, they will engage in an activity because it is interesting or enjoyable. If a person has a high level of intrinsic motivation, they will be more likely to persist at tasks seen as instrumental to achieving a goal even when those tasks become difficult.
Motivational force can be measured along a continuum from intrinsic to extrinsic at either end of the spectrum. In other words, being more intrinsically motivated makes you more self-directed, while being more extrinsically motivated drives you to perform well for others.
When trying to get 'motivated,' it is important to know what type of language will help get you there. So try pairing these techniques with tasks that inspire each type of motivation.
Reasons you may lack motivation.
What are the common reasons why people lack motivation?
Motivation is not only necessary to get through the tedious tasks of life; it is an integral part of achieving personal goals.
Read over the list below to learn the most common reasons why people lack motivation. It may help you be more proactive in your decision-making process.
The stress and worry of everyday life can take a toll on your motivation. Anxiety can affect your memory function, cause you to worry, and contribute to feeling overwhelmed.
The most effective way to combat anxiety is through positive reinforcement of the mind. Try pairing your tasks with words you find motivating or encouraging. If possible, attempt these tasks when you are relaxed and free of stress.
If you are having trouble managing the anxiety in your life, consider making an appointment with a therapist or discussing it with a friend or family member.
The most common reason why people lose their motivation is that they have become burnt out. This can be due to job stress, taking on too many responsibilities or simply poor time management skills.
If you find that your motivation has been completely sapped due to being overworked, take some time for yourself. Leave work early or ask your boss if you can have a later shift. Take up a new hobby or spend time with friends and family members. These things will help replenish the enthusiasm needed to get through the rest of your day.
Remember - it is important not to neglect your health, so try making sure that you are getting enough sleep at night and taking care of yourself by eating well and exercising regularly. While this may feel counterintuitive, these things actually give you more energy which can be spent on doing chores, studying for school or even working longer hours when necessary!
Another major cause of loss of motivation is depression. If you find yourself feeling down for an extended period of time, it is important to talk to someone who can help you get back on track. You might want to speak with a family member or friend, or you could ask your doctor about counselling.
While it may be hard to sense when you're in the pit of a depressive episode, it is important not to ignore the warning signs. Paying attention to your mood and how motivated you feel can help you notice when something isn't quite right.
If you have poor self-esteem, it can be difficult to feel motivated because you are constantly questioning your capacity. How can you motivate yourself when you don't believe in your abilities and talents? Your self-esteem is determined by many things, including your parents' relationship, whether you felt loved as a child, your past experiences with school and work, the expectations of others on you throughout life, what you have accomplished so far, how well you feel that you have done, and your general life satisfaction.
If you have a negative self-image or think that you are not good enough, it may be an indication of low self-esteem. If this is the case, then try to work on building up your confidence by learning to appreciate yourself and what you do well. Find some sources of happiness, learn to love yourself, and do something that you love every day.
The best way to combat this sense of inadequacy is by pursuing things that make you happy and learning how to handle failure. By taking small steps towards your goal, you will see how capable you truly are.
Fear of success
For some people, the opposite problem occurs. They may be afraid of succeeding or achieving something great because they fear it will mean losing out on something else in their life. This could be relationships with friends or family members, personal time or even financial gain. It's important to find what is valuable to you that doesn't jeopardize other aspects of your life and then work towards finding a balance.
Sometimes, in order to move forward, you must let go of certain things. This can be very difficult when you are attached to something, but it will give you the emotional room you need to pursue what is important to you. Pursuing your goals does not mean that everything else becomes unimportant or less valuable. And success does not have to be measured in material gain. Take the time to step back and reevaluate what things are truly valuable to you, and then put all your effort into those areas that best reflect your values.
Lack of possibilities for advancement
If you feel like there isn't anywhere to go in your career, then you will certainly lack motivation. Consider whether or not your current situation allows for any potential growth opportunities down the road. Remember that even having a job itself is an opportunity; always speak positively about your work life and add new skills if necessary (even: add more than one) so that you have something that sets you apart from others.
Negative work culture
Culture shock is a real thing. If your company operates very differently from the one where you previously worked, it can be difficult to adapt and fully immerse yourself in what is expected of you. Company culture is important to your motivation because if your values are different from those of your employer, you will not be happy with where you are spending most of your time and energy.
Lack of quality sleep
It's a common problem: lack of time leads to a late night at work, followed by an early morning commute and poor quality sleep after pulling repeated all-nighters. When we are tired, our brains aren't able to focus on anything but sleeping or eating. Although setting priorities for yourself is essential in any person's life, sometimes simply prioritizing enough rest will make up in the morning much easier than trying to push yourself into doing something that you just don't have the mental capacity for.
To get motivated, prioritize sleep. It might be hard at first, but you'll see your productivity soar once your mind is rested enough to actually work!
Stress does exactly the same thing as lack of sleep: it prevents us from focusing on anything but taking a breather or relieving that tension. When you're stressed, your brain is focused on the stressor, not the task at hand.
Lack of knowledge on how to manage your time.
It seems that our brain is constantly fighting with itself: wanting either sleep or being productive forces you into a vicious cycle of going back and forth between sleeping and working, leaving no room for rest in-between. Luckily there are many apps that can help you prioritize your day by dividing monotonous tasks into categories such as 'work' or 'leisure' while improving your experience by adding psychological features such as 'privacy.'
Insufficient funds or resources
Unfortunately, there are other factors which can affect your ability to enjoy your free time. For example, insufficient funds or resources causes people to focus on the negative things in life rather than enjoying themselves. An easy way to get around this is by simply spending more hours at work - just remember that getting employed takes motivation!
Over time, people tend to forget about what they're working on, especially if it becomes a routine. To avoid this from happening, remind yourself of your goals by posting sticky notes or even updating an app on your phone. This way, you'll always know what you're doing, and it won't be lost over time.
Dwelling on past mistakes.
People make mistakes in life. Even people who are highly motivated make mistakes. What you want to do is learn from your mistakes rather than wallow in them. Everyone makes many mistakes over their lifetime, which lead to regret. The best way to avoid this suffering is by taking action when you think about it. Go back into that place where the mistake happened, analyze what went wrong and why it happened, then take steps to ensure that same mistake won't happen again in the future.
Most people get overwhelmed when they have too much to do, and it leads to stress, which leads to motivation loss. When you have too many responsibilities, break them down into bite-size chunks and prioritize accordingly. This way, you'll allow yourself to indulge in the distractions of life but with a sense of self-control!
The solution is simple: just don't take up responsibilities that you will no doubt fail at.
When we're constantly worrying about something, almost anything, it's impossible to have a good day. Stress accumulates over time and makes you feel physically exhausted from daily activities. Often times this is due to the lack of work/life balance or unreasonable expectations at work which lead to depression or anxiety disorder.
Lack of support network
It's very difficult to find the motivation to do anything when there is an absence of support. Without family, friends or emotional support, you won't feel like doing anything at all! Loneliness creeps in, and our health deteriorates. All problems seem insurmountable without anyone to give us a push.
When trying to get motivated, it's essential to judge whether your working conditions are healthy. If all you have is one task with no support, it's probably time to leave!
Too many times, I've seen people ask for support, and instead, they receive criticism. The build-up of negativity drains emotional energy, so be sure to surround yourself with positive people who really care about how you are doing.
The Science of Motivation
It's a beautiful Sunday evening when you're relaxing on the couch. You've been thinking about how much work is waiting for you the next day, and the task seems daunting. If only you could get yourself to do that work…enter... motivation!
Motivation can be an elusive creature — we want it, but we can't seem to find or harness it. So, what does research suggest we do to find and keep this motivational force?
The first step towards harnessing motivation is understanding where our own motivations lie along a continuum from intrinsic (self-induced) to extrinsic (other-induced). Being more intrinsically motivated makes you self-directed, while being more extrinsically motivated drives you to succeed because of the external factors (grades, money, success) you hope to gain. There are challenges with both types, but generally speaking, intrinsic motivation is seen as more conducive to long-term well-being and happiness than extrinsic motivation.
Self-determination theory research suggests that people who have their basic needs met are more intrinsically motivated, exhibit greater cognitive functioning & creativity, demonstrate enhanced health & well-being across all major organ systems, have better relationships & social networks and have higher degrees of self-acceptance/self-esteem compared to those who don't have their needs met. So... stuff like eating makes us happy! But what about other ways we can harness motivation?
If there are two types of motivation, it turns out that there are two categories of motivators too, that are associated with greater well-being, meaning & performance.
1) Intrinsic motivators - when you're driven by the desire to do something because it is inherently enjoyable/fulfilling in its own right. Activities where doing them makes you happy like running, baking cookies, and swimming.
2) Extrinsic motivators - you are driven by material incentives, like money or social rewards. For example, how your work gets better when someone tells you they love it, so you try to get work published for this reason.
So what can we do? What if we need a little push to get the ball rolling and take action in our lives?
Tips on How to Get Motivated
Motivation is a tricky thing. It's not the easiest to get, and it can be even more difficult to keep. But don't worry! We're here with science-backed tips on how to find motivation when you need it most.
A good way to get yourself motivated is to boost your self-esteem and feel empowered. Remind yourself of some past successes, even if it's as simple as passing a test at school or scoring a goal during a friendly soccer match with friends.
Self-affirmation is another effective tool when it comes to feeling motivated. Taking a few minutes to think about your best traits and reflecting on why you're awesome (hint: you are, no exceptions!) can help that motivation stick around for longer.
Share your goals with others.
Share your goals with those around you and ask for their support. This will help you stay motivated since you'll know that there are people on-hand who can provide the encouragement and support needed to reach your goals.
After all, who doesn't want to brag about their success? Not only that, because fresh eyes can tell you new things about your goal and inspire you to push yourself even further.
Take a break if you need one.
Studies show that taking regular breaks makes us more productive at work and boosts our energy levels. So once an hour, get away from your desk for 5 minutes. Stretch, meditate or even just write down everything you want to accomplish today on a notepad.
When we're truly motivated, it doesn't matter what triggered that inner fire inside of us -- we just want to keep going until we've accomplished our goal or until we're satisfied with the work we produced. If you find yourself burnt out after days of nearly single-minded dedication to achieving a certain result, take some time away from focusing on your task at hand so that you can gain a new perspective.
Fake it 'til you make it.
When we're down and out, our bodies release stress hormones like cortisol which can lower our immunity and actually cause us to feel even more unmotivated than we already do. So next time you find yourself in a slump, act like you're motivated. Stand up straight when you walk, tell yourself, "I can do this," until your mind starts to believe it.
Go on a cleanse.
It's no coincidence that you see several juice cleanses, superfood bowls and detox teas popping up everywhere nowadays. This isn't just about being trendy it's actually good for your health! Cleansing helps fight wrinkles, boosts energy levels and can even help heal pre-existing conditions like depression, acne and osteoporosis.
Plan out your day
BEFORE you start anything, make sure you know what's coming next and how much time each task will take. Having nothing planned will lead to getting distracted, which will snowball into even more distractions.
If you have a plan, you're more likely to stay focused on your goal. Keep yourself accountable by writing it all out on your calendar.
You can boost your motivation by giving yourself small rewards for completing tasks that may not seem like they require an incentive. This will help motivate you in the future when you graduate from larger tasks such as studying for exams or doing household chores.
Every time you accomplish a mini-goal (like studying for an hour), treat yourself to something nice (like watching TV.) Building in some positive reinforcement can go a long way when trying to get motivated.
If you're finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning, consider getting active! Starting your day with exercise will set you up to be productive all day long. You have more energy when you exercise regularly, so don't let your fitness slide.
You can start with simple exercises or stretches and work your way up from there. You can even exercise at your desk! Just squeeze five to ten reps of arm curls in whenever you have a free moment. You'll feel much more energized after just three or four weeks, so try to stick with it for the long haul.
Approach tasks with the expectation that they'll be difficult.
If you believe doing something will leave you feeling satisfied, then there's a good chance that you won't be motivated enough to do it. When tackling a new task or project, tell yourself beforehand how challenging it's going to be, and this will prepare you for obstacles on the way through.
Starts with inner dialogue
People don't accomplish much unless they're motivated to do so. And motivation is elusive, but there are things you can do to help nudge yourself along. It all starts with your inner dialogue; if you think something will be easy, it probably will be, and this will make prodding yourself forward much easier.
Take things one step at a time.
Don't overload yourself by trying to achieve too much in too little time! It can seem less daunting if you split up larger projects into smaller milestones, so the light at the end of the tunnel seems closer than before. This is another great tactic for motivation because even just crossing off your first milestone feels fantastic!
As you can see, there are many ways to get motivated. Try one of these methods and give it a chance for at least two weeks before giving up on it or deciding that it doesn't work. You may be surprised by the results! Which method did you find most helpful? Share this page with your family and friends.