It’s a gloriously sunny Sunday, I have been awake for 3 hours, I am surrounded by half completed craft projects and ‘to do’ lists, I have a bored 10 year old who keeps asking me what we are doing today, and all I can think about is how much I miss my bed. I have just finished my second cup of coffee, had a wash and am fully dressed, ready to take on the world, but I can barely keep my eyes open.
I have always envied the type of people who are able to wake up in the morning, exclaim that they don’t want to get out of bed and ‘do life’, but are still able to push past their demons, get up and have a normal productive day. It seems I have become friends with a big angry demon who spends his time sucking all of the heat out of my body, puts weights on my eyelids, and quietly tells me how warm and cosy my bed is. ‘Theres no point in trying anything today, you will just suck at it. Go for a nap, it’s warm under the blanket.”
Trying to stay motivated is one of my biggest weaknesses. I am not lacking in ideas, for example I jotted down 6 new craft ideas and blog post topics yesterday. I seem to have a problem with execution. Having that final push to physically get yourself up, gather your materials and get started! Once I begin a project theres no stopping me, but that initial push is near impossible for me some days. I find myself sinking into a swamp of excuses; the house is a mess, I need to clean up first. My son will be home from school soon so theres no point starting a project. It’s too late in the evening so if I go to bed early I can get up and have time tomorrow (which never happens!).
I will warn you now, i’m not going to sit here and announce ‘Here are 10 simple ways to stay motivated’, because if I could do that, then I wouldn’t be writing this post. What I am going to do is tell you about a few of the things that have worked for me. On my bad days, there is not one single exercise that will get me out of my bed, but after many years of stress and worry, when these bad days come around, I have come to the realisation that being a person with depression, some days you just have to put your plans aside, have a ‘self care’ day, and make sure to try again tomorrow. On the flipside, if my brain is raring to go, but I just can’t get my body to catch up, I try a few of these exercises.
Get away from distractions
As mentioned earlier, I often use excuses not to start my projects, and those excuses are usually right in front of me; those dirty dishes, that pile of letters and bills that really need to be organised, the hall that badly needs repainted. If it is a nice sunny day, I put on my shoes and just go for a walk. I live beside a lovely canal and cycle path so walking around and soaking up the sunshine always tops up my vitamin D and gets me energised, this in turn gives me the energy to march straight back into the house, ignore all my distractions and get busy with my project. If it is a cold, rainy day (which is usually is in Scotland) I jump into the car and drive. Sometimes simply driving gives me a boost of energy, but if I have the time, I take my project with me, even something as simple as a pad and pen. I head to my favourite cafe, grab a coffee and gather my thoughts. Another very underused place is the library. It is the perfect place to rid yourself of distraction, it’s nice and quiet, theres plenty of inspirational books to read, and not a dirty plate in sight!
Yes, this is a strange one, at first I didn’t want to try it, I mean it literally sounds scary! Now I don’t mean quit your job and buy one way ticket to another country, perhaps set yourself slightly smaller goals, not personal goals that you can dismiss later on, but plan a date for an event, or confirm you are going to create or finish something on that date, plaster this all over your Facebook, tell your friends and family. This will give you the push to get it done as you know people will be expecting to see results. I have recently given myself a deadline. I have signed up for a four week crafting masterclass at my sons school. I will be responsible for coming up with four different craft projects and must teach and guide each class through my tutorials. This idea has me rather terrified, but I know I must plan ahead, get my materials, organise each class and be ready by a specific date. I know the feeling of accomplishment will be spectacular once I am finished, and these little kids are excited about me showing them a ‘really cool’ craft project, so I can’t give up on them.
Being inspired has two different outcomes. I fall for the negative outcome a little too often. If I have an idea for a project, but not sure the best way to execute it, I turn to the wonderful world of the internet. This can open a Pandoras box of self loathing and makes you want to give up doing anything remotely artistic. If I am in the ‘wrong’ mood, seeing similar artists, or artists I follow on Social media can cause me to compare my work to theirs, and of course their work is always a million times better, which forces me into the dark and seedy cave I now call ‘WHATS THE POINT?!’ (We will discuss this mysterious and downright awful cave at a later date). Positive inspiration comes from your own personality. Pick your favourite song and blast it as loud as your neighbours will let you. Don’t pick a song that will get the emotions bubbling, play one full of energy, that is silly and is your private guilty pleasure. My ‘pump up’ song is ‘I wanna Dance With Somebody’ By Whitney Houston!
Do you have a favourite movie or tv show? If you have time to watch it, even your favourite scene, it can get you energised and motivated to tackle anything. My motivational movie is the Wonderful French film ‘Amelie’. It always leaves me feeling elated and inspired. If you don’t have time to sit and watch an entire movie every time you lack in motivation, keep a reminder of your favourite quote or line by making a print from it. Hang it in your living room or frame it on your desk. I was given a mini cinematic light box for Christmas and I display my favourite inspirational movie quotes or music lines in it, so every time I pass it I can remember that scene or sing that song all day to keep me upbeat.
Switch off the internet
As previously mentioned, sometimes the internet can be a cruel and dark place if you are not in the right frame of mind. We spend so many hours on our phones catching up on social media that any free time we may have is lost. I’m sure you have convinced yourself many times “I’ll get started once I check my Facebook” but sure enough, two hours later you’re on Wikipedia reading all about the inventor of the stapler. If you have a project in mind, and you can admit to yourself that you don’t need internet to complete it, then switch your phone off, or if you need your phone, simply turn Wifi off! I will admit I am guilty of wasting so much of my time looking up things on my phone rather than getting my own project done, I now have set times when I turn my Wifi off during the day, keep the tv off and simply play my music while I start crafting.
These exercises will not guarantee 100% motivation, and they don’t work for me every day. I have tried a number of other exercises in the past but I found that they didn’t fit my personal needs. This is what is so beautifully twisted about having a mental illness. If you say you have depression, people assume you are sad. Even other people who suffer from depression may think that you feel the same as them, that you have the same mental triggers as they do, what may cheer me up might make another persons mood worse. So what I am saying is that just because some of these exercises might not boost your motivation, others might. It is all about trial and error. What is paramount is that you must make sure to reward yourself and take note when you discover something that helps you keep going, because it might just make those really bad days a little easier to cope with. I would like to note here that this post took me four days to write, I had many distractions, many moments when I wanted to delete this entire post, but I persevered, and now I feel a sense of accomplishment when reading it all back. Taking breaks and acknowledging your self doubt is encouraged, you just need to pluck up the courage and tell your doubt to take a hike!
Do you have any exercises to help you get pumped up? Are there any projects or processes that help dig you out of a dark place?