How do you get things done when you’re feeling depressed, anxious or unmotivated? It’s hard enough for folks who don’t struggle with the depression or anxiety! If you’ve been in counseling before or not, I’m sure at some point in your life you’ve heard someone, maybe even your mom or spouse tell you “Just get up and do something. You’ll feel better”. Yes, this is typically said with good intent, but it does’t always help and sometimes, it can even make us feel worse. Most people know that getting up and exercising or doing some chores just DOING ANYTHING will probably make them feel better, but it’s… just..too…hard.
There are Solutions
There are tools that can get us back on our feet and out of our rut but it takes will and it takes effort. Let’s talk about what the hardest part of using these tools are first-you know, get it out of the way. So here it goes: you have to be willing to feel some discomfort in order to feel some relief. That’s it.
Let me explain
Example: You want to stay in bed because the thought of getting out of bed is so incredibly anxiety provoking that you avoid the anxiety by staying in bed. Your basically relying on your mood to make decisions for you. You’re what is called being “mood dependent”. You rely on your mood for guidance and chances are if you’re depressed your mood is telling you to do the opposite of what you should do.
Your behavior does not need to be guided by your mood. That’s pretty great news if you think about it! Just because your mind is telling you you’re sad, does not mean that you have to stay sad and engage in activities (or non-activities really) that are contributing to your sadness.
So What Do You Do?
You practice mood independence. This is where the discomfort piece I mentioned earlier comes in. When you don’t want to get out of bed, you can. There is a choice here. You can and should do the opposite of what your crappy mood is telling you to do. That’s the trick. The more you’re willing to be uncomfortable and do the healthy things you’ve been avoiding, the sooner you’ll pull yourself out of your rut. If you wake up tomorrow and you don’t want to get out of bed but you do, and you do something meaningful, responsible, healthy etc. you WILL feel better. Chances are you’ll have more hope that you’ll be able to do this again the next day and the next day so on and so forth. Some days it won’t be so easy and you’ll want to pull the covers over your head and avoid the day. And that’s okay. This stuff takes work. The idea is a simple one but it is certainly not easy.
You Do Not Have to Act According to How You Feel
You can not want to walk the dog and do it anyway. You can laugh with a friend when you’re sad. Your behavior can be totally different than your mood. Eventually your mood follows and gets used to living life with peace and enjoyment again.
One More Tool (my favorite)
Just imagine how you’ll feel after you do the very thing you’re avoiding. Is it worth feeling really uncomfortable if it means you’ll get to feel better? It’s worth a try.
Lindsay Melka, LPC
If you connected with this post and would like to speak with me please call 720-295-5490 or contact me here.