Most of my tips focus on the part of my dysthymia that bothers me the most—my inability to focus. These things make it hard for me to do Anything unless I know I’m on an extreme deadline, so I put a lot of thought and energy into working around them. Also, whether you take all or none of these into consideration, remember I’m not a doctor, and I’m not You, and these are just things that work for me. If I were a Youtuber, I’d have some chime-y royalty free music playing right now. But I’m not. So just imagine it.
- Write lists. Or fill out a calendar. And put it somewhere you’re always going to see it and put Everything on it. Brush your teeth, change your shirt, do ten minutes of stretching, check up on your village in Animal Crossing. Even when I have zero motivation to do anything, and I get tired even considering things I enjoy doing, I feel compelled to accomplish things if I have them written down. I would rather feel exhausted and know I got something done than feel exhausted and guilty because my to-do list is staring back at me.
- Find a whole lot of mindless hobbies that you can do while doing other stuff. Like, for example, cross stitching or embroidery. I cross stitch while I’m watching TV and while I’m catching up on lectures for school. Having something to do with my hands makes me less likely to give up when something fails to grab my attention.
- Get a real plant to take care of. This ties back into the “writing lists” thing. Aside from the fact that it becomes something more to motivate yourself with, it also becomes a way for you to break up your regular schedule and give you something to look forward to. I keep a little bamboo plant (though it’s not so little anymore) and I water it every Thursday morning. When Tuesday rolls around and the week seems like it’s taking too long, I remind myself that I only have two more days before I have to water my bamboo, and that sort of pushes me along.
- Consolidate. If you have a desk, bring the things you usually need at your desk (a notebook, chargers, pens) there, and keep them in arms reach. I’m less likely to put something off or give up entirely if it’s Right There.
- Snack. Snack snack snack. This is important for me because I forget to eat/put off eating for large periods at a time because eating means Effort on my part. To supplement that, I keep a packaged snack or two in my working area And I put “eat something” on my daily to-do as a reminder.
- Buy some candles of varying scents and/or invest in a diffuser and various scented oils. As much as I love candles, a diffuser is also a good idea because it gives you an idle task—you have to remember to fill it with water. I picked up my diffuser at Walgreens for like 12$. It can get plugged right into a USB port on your computer usually, more expensive ones have lighting options, and a variety of scents can give you a boost of motivation. It can also be a treat for yourself, like “If I finish xyz, I’ll turn my diffuser on”.
- That being said—Find ways to treat yourself. Putting in effort and receiving a reward for it is the best way for me to be motivated, even if it’s small rewards. Even if those treats are simple ones, like getting a cup of hot cocoa in exchange for showering or ordering something online in exchange for checking the mail.
- Find music you like and play it all the time. This seems sort of obvious—most people listen to the music they like often—but when I need to work on something, I get a tiny bit of motivation from having my favorite Spotify playlist on in the background, even if it’s quiet.
- Separate where you work from where you have fun, even if it involves the same things. I play a lot of games online, but I also work and do school from home, and the act of transporting my laptop from my bed or couch—recreational spaces—to my desk—my work station—helps to ease my mindset from “I can do whatever I want” to “Okay now I’m Working”.
- Be easy on yourself. It’s cliché to say you’re your own worst critic, but it’s also true. I spent (and spend) a lot of time beating myself up over things that I do that other people don’t even bat an eye at. And it’s easy to fall into a toxic mindset and discourage yourself from anything and everything. At the end of each day, think about a mistake you’ve made, and forgive yourself for it. A small kindness like that, from you to yourself, can make a big difference.
And that’s all I have for now, I think! Ten tips for on dealing with dysthymia or a general lack of motivation.
Be sure to check back later today for another Shattering Stigmas post, and, if you haven’t yet, consider reading the posts from the past days as well!
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