How to Get Stuff Done When you are Feeling Depressed




A therapist once told me that I have, “a high tolerance for depression.” I wish I’d asked her what she meant; at the time I assumed that she was saying I was accustomed to feeling depressed because I was surrounded by family members suffering from mental health issues. Perhaps she meant that depression was normalized in my family. I suppose I’ll never know why she said it, I think I didn’t want to ask her because I didn’t really want to know.

The truth is that I do feel depressed on occasion. I’ve been seeing therapists regularly for many years to heal my childhood traumas. I’ve turned out to be a highly functioning, hardworking and caring adult. Becoming a mother has brought a lot to the surface from my difficult childhood. Sometimes I don’t feel like doing the things I need to do. Especially when there are big and uncertain changes happening in the wider world.

Recently, I’ve been struck with a distinct lack of motivation or energy for doing much, particularly the daily chores to maintain my family life. My last blog post was about how we get motivation from self-care. I’ve found that even with increased self-care, that alone doesn’t always bring the motivation I hope for. Sometimes I need more.

The good news is that you can do what needs to be done, even when you don’t want to. Here are some ideas that help me when I need to get stuff done, but I’m not feeling it.

Notice your warning signs.

We all have habits that we either take up or stop when we start to feel depressed. I exercise less, and eat more. It gets harder to fall asleep. I stop meditating. I don’t reach out to friends. Basically all the things that I need to do to feel well, physically and mentally, I stop doing. What are your signs? If you can notice them it will help in you to stay mentally strong. The first step is to notice, to become aware. With practice you will be able to notice and make a different choice about how you respond to your thoughts.


Put your energy where you have influence. 

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey writes: “proactive people focus their time and energy on things they can control. The problems, challenges, and opportunities we face fall into two areas–Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence.” When you start to get overwhelmed by the world, take a step back and remind yourself to focus on the things you can take action on. This practice will help you use your limited energy wisely. The good news, for those of us on the KonMari journey, is that creating the home environment we want is largely under our control.



Interrupt your negative thought cycle.

Once you are aware of your negative thoughts, take action. The mindfulness practice of R.A.I.N is key. Recognize the negative thought as it occurs, Allow it to be as it is, Investigate how your body feels and Nurture yourself with acceptance and kindness.


Don’t wait to feel motivated.

When you feel down, the motivation you are hoping for is not going to magically show up. You have to force yourself to take action, to do the thing you don’t want to do. Tune out that voice that tells you to keep sitting on the couch. Turn on positive, high-energy music to get moving. Remind yourself that you’ll feel better once you’ve accomplished the task. Celebrate each accomplishment.

Shrink your to-do list, then start with the easiest thing.

Your “to do list” is probably too long. Look at what has to get done today, and what can wait. Get rid of everything that is non-essential. Do the easiest thing first. Learn to say, “no” to additional invitations and responsibilities, even the ones you want to say, “yes” to. It is important to be realistic about what you are capable of doing so you don’t overwhelm yourself.

Take decision making out of the equation.

Write up a weekly schedule and set up each day in advance. Establish your routine and don’t question it when you are feeling down. If you are doing the KonMari Method, you can schedule an hour a week to the do small subcategories to keep up with your progress.

Treat yourself with loving-kindness.

Talk to yourself as you would to a dear friend. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to them. The more loving you are to yourself, the more able you’ll be able to do.  And more importantly, you’ll feel better. Treat yourself with loving-kindness, and you’ll forgive yourself for not getting everything done.

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Find Your Motivation

00Featured news, KonMari Method, Motivation, Self careTags: , , , , , , , , ,

MotivationI’ve been staring at a blank page for over a month trying to write about finding your motivation. The irony is that my motivation took a dive after researching how people stay motivated for my Simplicity & Joy Course. What I found really shook me up. It turns out that motivation is really about self care. Now that I’m a mom I don’t feel like I have time for much in the way of self care, and moms need it the most. What I found out, and what I realized, is that to create a joyful life we must care for ourselves first.

My plan for the workshop was to have a list of all the things people can do to stay motivated to complete their home tidying project. My initial list included practical actions such as: create deadlines; use a checklisthelp others; remember why you started; schedule swaps/yard sales or donation pick ups, etc. After completing it, I had the sense that something was missing. There was some key element, some catalyst that was not there. So I decided to dig a little deeper.  I came across a list that, as it’s final entry, had a phrase that struck me: practice extreme self care.

This phrase really made me think.  I started to notice how rarely my cup is full enough to give as much as I do. So I decided to act: instead of writing about motivation, I focused on taking care of myself.

For example, I’m finally going to cash in the gift card for a facial that my husband got for me for Mother’s Day.  Up until now, I’ve felt too busy to use it.  But no more- I’m going to take care of myself, too.

The things we do to take care of ourselves don’t need to be extravagant.  They can be small and simple.  The other day I was preparing food for my daughter’s summer camp lunch. While I carefully sliced the apples and put cinnamon on them I thought: “how lovely it would be to be so well cared for.” So instead of just taking the other half of the apple to work with me unsliced and not cinnamon adorned, I cut it up for myself and added the sprinkles of cinnamon. Such a small gesture of self care felt lovely.

But even these things are not enough.  Self care, at it’s core, is about healing our hearts. And to do this, I’m going to the local Hand in Hand parenting support group.  At this group parents take turns completely listening to each other talk about the joy, hardships and heartaches we are facing.  It is not easy to do – we deeply feel and express our emotions – but it is powerful medicine. I come home to my family more capable of being the mother and wife that I want to be- calmer, kinder, patient and a little more playful. The group meets weekly and if I miss a gathering I really miss it!

So with this in mind, I decided to create a new list.  This list is designed to build the foundation of your motivation.  It will serve not only to get you going, but to sustain you – to keep you motivated to reach your highest potential.

Self Care for Motivation

Sleep – I know it’s hard, especially with young ones, but when you have enough sleep you have energy and can function. Your overall health depends on having enough sleep. Everything in life is better when you feel rested.  Do whatever it takes to get enough rest.

Meditation supports a sense of well-being in many ways. It can help you to let go of negative emotions and positively transform your dysfunctional thinking- making space for a joyful mind!  Find a meditation style that you are comfortable with and meditate daily.

Nature – Take time to get outside and into nature. The fresh air, the green and blue, and the pure beauty of the earth helps put things into perspective.

Connection with others makes life meaningful. The more connected you feel, the happier you are. Meet a friend for tea or make that phone call you’ve been meaning to make. Reach out to your people and feel the love.

Support –  Knowing you are not alone, that you are loved gives you strength to move through the joys and heartaches of life.  Find a support group online or in person. Notice the people who lift your spirits and hang out with them more.

Emotional release heals your heart. So you can heal the world. Find what moves you- a tear jerker movie (Steel Magnolias always gets me), a therapist, a support group. Let the tears flow.

Play helps you lighten up and be in the moment- to let go in the best way possible. There are a million ways to play. Dancing is one of my favorites- I’ve been loving the Michael Franti station on Pandora lately- great positive vibes!

When my husband wants to go mountain biking or mushroom hunting, I do whatever I can to make it happen because I know when he has taken care of himself he is way more awesome to hang out with-he is happier and healthier, and that affects everyone around him. I can see that clearly with him and I feel it for myself, but am still working on letting go of my own blocks around taking time for myself. Note to self: Stop feeling guilty for making time for you. It helps to know that my daughter is watching and learning from my actions.  I’d like for her to see me taking care of myself (and being way more awesome to hang out with, too)- so she’ll know how it’s done.









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