Counselors hear it all the time — “I want to make changes, but I am not motivated.” In order to improve your life and your mental health, you need to put in the effort. A little work can go a long way to a happier, healthier you.
Making the change
So how do you get motivated to take charge, to make the change?
Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Educate yourself on the human brain: The same way the brain produces adrenaline when faced with trouble, it also releases happy hormones like serotonin and dopamine. These hormones are important in creating feelings of internal satisfaction. They are designed to relieve stress and enhance pleasure. These hormones are released through light to moderate exercise, interaction with friends and family, and certain foods. By taking action to release these hormones you will feel more motivated to accomplish goals and desires. Start small with some light exercise, healthy foods, or a date with a friend.
2. Stop the adrenaline dump: Rather than entering freak-out mode when you realize your bills are late, or you haven’t cleaned the house in weeks but you are having people over tonight — do a little bit at a time. By making small changes such as paying your bills as they come in, or cleaning 10 minutes a day to keep up with chores you will be helping your brain to release dopamine more often.
3. Be aware of your perceptions: If you are thinking about an activity with dread, you are less likely to be motivated to get it done. If you start looking at it from a different angle you will help yourself become more motivated to accomplish the task. For example if you think about a workout as being exhausting then you probably won’t do it, but if you think about how good you feel when you are done or how productive the rest of your day is if you get up early then you will be more motivated.
4. Be honest with yourself: Our brains are powerful tools. Rather than digging in your heels thinking about how dreadful it can be to wash the dishes or clean the toilet, tell yourself how it really is. Pick up the sponge, get out the soap, and get it done. Chances are it is not nearly as bad as you made yourself think it was.
5. Be thankful: Gratitude can be a wonderful thing. Rather than getting mad at your children for tracking mud through the kitchen, be thankful you have them and they are healthy enough to run through the mud. Be thankful to have food to dirty your dishes. Be thankful to have a home that needs to be cleaned. Be thankful for your body’s ability to exercise. Appreciate yourself. Take care of you.
Becoming motivated may seem like a daunting and overwhelming task but after that first step it gets easier. You have the ability to be the change you want in your life.
Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC
Alison is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice for women with three locations in Lancaster County, PA. She is passionate about reducing the stigma related to accessing mental health services. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.