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How do you force yourself to do things you don't want to do?


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So if you're depressed I'm sure you've experienced the catch-22 of knowing you need to do things that will help (exercise, diet, socializing, etc), but suffer the lack of motivation and withdrawal that makes those things a million times harder!

 

I've been depressed for soooo long and tried so many things that don't work, which just brings me down more...

 

I desperately want to do these things:

  • Eat better
  • Get more sleep
  • Exercise!
  • Socialize

 

I *know* all these things have a lot of potential to help me feel better. But it's a Sisyphean struggle. Some days I'll get enough motivation to eat a little better or exercise. But it's either occasional or at best maybe a few days or a week and then I'm either too tired, find excuses, or just flat out say f*** it.

 

The sleep thing is probably the worst. I am always exhausted, whether I'm on medication or not. There's a couple problems: when I do get 8 hours of seemingly good sleep, I'm still exhausted. And the worst part... I work late and come home exhausted; if I just GOT IN BED I'd fall asleep right away. Not only can I not get myself to bed, it's getting worse. The more I tell myself I need to get to bed, the later I stay up, intentionally, almost like I'm doing it to spite myself. 

 

Anyway... anybody have any success or strategies to form better habits?

 

I feel like the biggest hindrance is that I'm SO DAMN TIRED. But my efforts to sleep more are totally backfiring...

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Can you set a bed time and some rituals leading up to it (ie. wash face, brush teeth, get pjs on, etc)? 

 

To get myself to do things I don't want to do but should, I remind myself of the benefits of doing said activity and then I try to reward myself for doing the activity.  I remind myself that I should feel proud that accomplished my goal.  I also think about what happens when I don't do the activity and "give in" to the depression.

 

So if you go to bed on time tonight, figure out a reward for yourself and be sure to pat yourself on the back a lot.

 

It also helps to tell other people about your goal to further hold yourself accountable.

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Reward yourself when you do something on your to-do list.

 

Lets say you plan to do laundry every other sunday. You feel unmotivated and kind of tired, but! If you know that if you do your laundry, you will allow yourself a new song purchase on iTunes, a prepaid movie, a new video game from steam, etc

 

Lets say you need to go to the gym every other day. You feel fat, uncomfortable, and ashamed. Reward yourself by taking a hot epsom salt bath. Go on a guys/girls night with your friends. Buy a new article of clothing that makes you look HOT. 

 

Its easier if you have a weekly planner and plan your stuff week by week. Make sure to reward yourself, even if its just buying a cup of coffee or chap stick 

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oh boy i hear you... especially "The more I tell myself I need to get to bed, the later I stay up, intentionally, almost like I'm doing it to spite myself."  sleep is my biggest issue right now, almost exactly as you described it.

 

i know there are strategies out there for healthy sleep hygiene, some of them being having a set bed time, no naps, no caffeine or alcohol 4 hours before bed, use the bed only for sleeping (and *ahem* other things meant for the bedroom heh), keeping the bedroom dark and quiet (no stimulation), use whatever relaxation techniques that work for you.  i am a total fail at these things.  but i am sure they work for people.

 

what i learned in therapy is to break down big goals like eating right, or sleeping right, or exercise or socializing into very small goals that are easier to achieve.

 

let's say you want to eat better.  instead of telling yourself "no more junk!  i am eating right from now on!", try something smaller.  changing your eating habits is a huge goal.  so maybe you could decide something like "two times this week, i am going to eat a meal with vegetables in it".  pick which days, and which vegetables.  then at the end of the week, you can congratulate yourself on having done that!  and if you don't meet that goal, you can think about what got in your way at the time (like you were too tired to cook, or didn't get to the grocery store), and try again next week.  or revise the goal to something that takes your time and energy into consideration.

 

the "small goals" leading to the big ones can be applied to just about anything.  just be sure not to make the goals too big.

 

this week i'm working on the socializing one.  my goal was to invite one new person for coffee (just invite, don't have to actually do it this week).  and i did it!  :)

 

i'm sure other folks will have good ideas for you too.  best of luck!  (if you learn how to break the bad sleeping habits, let me know!)

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Arrgh, I'm another one with a very very similar sleep problem.  And a long history of failures at improving it.  I agree that the fatigue just makes everything else harder too.  

 

Food-wise, I allow myself moderate amounts junk food to avoid feeling more depressed by feeling deprived or punished.  But no more than one item per "type" at a time.  If I have a bag of gummy bears, no new chocolate this week.  If I buy a box of cheez-its, then no chips or french fries until after the crackers are gone (hopefully it lasts more than a couple days!)  I try not to have more than one frozen pizza, mac & cheese, or instant ramen in the house at a time.

 

I try to keep reasonably healthy "quick foods" around.  Especially stuff with a decent shelf life since I'm an inconsistent eater.  Plain nuts and dried fruit, oatmeal, apples & PB, individually wrapped baked sweet potatoes, canned lentil soup, hummus and baby carrots, a couple boiled eggs in the fridge, water bottles in the fridge with tea bags hanging in them, a container of pre-chopped and cooked veggies for throwing into scrambled eggs or on top of the ramen, pasta, or potatoes.

 

Basically I set it up so that if I really really really have to have junk then I'll have to leave the house more often for it.  If apathy and agoraphobia win that battle of evils, then oatmeal and eggs are readily available.  Same goes for my office food stash.  

 

When super stressed or depressed, nothing really tastes great or seems worth the effort.  So before I knew to actively work at this I used to subsist on ridiculous things like nothing but saltine crackers, gatorade, and instant coffee for days at a time.  

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I figure out what is ESSENTIAL TO ME:  for example, I've never been one to ignore hygiene, or whatnot..... Or my kid.

I make sure I perform one of those essential tasks, and then add others, in the order of what I think will help (often, for me the first one is exercise, etc), going very slowly.   And yes, rewards can be good motivators.   But for me, I have a grit my teeth and do it mentality and I make myself do it NO MATTER WHAT.


I don't quite know how I do this, other than making it NOT OPTIONAL in my mind.

Anna

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I figure out what is ESSENTIAL TO ME:  for example, I've never been one to ignore hygiene, or whatnot..... Or my kid.

.

.

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I don't quite know how I do this, other than making it NOT OPTIONAL in my mind.

Yeah, this reminds me that I skipped mentioning that figuring out what is essential on a personal basis is definitely key.  For me adequate food situation and somehow managing my job make slogging through everything else more possible.

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Thanks for the replies :)

 

I probably should have mentioned I also have ADHD! I hate to use it as an excuse for anything, but it just makes it a little bit harder to do anything routine, organized, or consistently. I really can't think of a SINGLE thing that I do routinely, with one exception... when I'm in the shower, I have a very particular sequence I do things in. Ha, normal maybe, but not considering the disorder elsewhere. My hygiene is awful sometimes; I don't shower, brush my teeth, wash my face, etc., on anything CLOSE to a regular schedule or pattern, and often I'll skip one of many of them.

 

I don't know, the more I think about it, I think it's some kind of psychological problem of a different kind, of a coping strategy issue or something. Sometimes I blame it on laziness, but often it's much more deliberate... like going out of your way to get junk food? As lazy as I am, sometimes I'll do exactly that. Just the other day after thinking about the healthy things I was going to eat, I thought, "F*** it", got in the car, went to the store, and bought cookies and doughnuts.

 

It's like my inner child has grown into a rebellious teenager who pops up and sabotages my efforts just to prove she can.

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