My anxiety wants me to fail. It makes me second-guess myself, my ability and my likelihood of succeeding. Even whilst writing this article, the doubts and worry about failing, about my writing not being good enough, makes me want to stop typing and crawl into bed with some Netflix instead.
Being plagued by anxiety means that any small setback is blown up into mountainous proportions and the failure seeps into all other aspects of my life.
This means I quickly lose motivation for things, because the fear of doing badly means that doing nothing seems much more appealing. Too many questions of "Who cares?" and "Why bother?" are quite exhausting.
This isn't ideal when I am in the final semester of my final year of university. Therefore, I'd like to share a few pearls of (attempts at) wisdom, in the hope that these steps to staying motivated may help you out when anxiety tries to thwart any productivity.
1. Try and stay away from social media
It's difficult to stop yourself from scrolling through your Instagram feed yet again. You know you've just been here, and that it makes you feel worse when you're in a bad mood, but that doesn't stop you. It's a vicious cycle of using social media to distract myself, then feeling even worse when I see all the fun people are (supposedly) having whilst I'm sat here feeling shit. So, if you want to get that motivation back, throw your phone away for a while.
2. Avoid comparison
There's not much else that can fuel my anxiety and negative thoughts more than comparing myself to others who seem to really have their shit together and to be flying ahead in their goals whilst I'm here struggling. So, avoid concentrating on others as much as you can. The truth is, it's all swings and roundabouts and you may have failure after failure whilst your friends or co-workers seem to have nothing but good news. Remember that someone else's success doesn't equal your downfall.
3. Try exercising
I know, this is in no way the first time you've heard that exercise is great for improving your mental health. The endorphin release gives you a great serotonin boost, and the monotony of it gives your brain something to focus on besides intense worry. Still, don't try and force yourself to the gym if you know you will hate it. Yoga is my current tipple. It's something you can do in the comfort of your own room and is amazingly therapeutic for both your mind and body.
4. Lie in bed and do nothing
This may sound counter-productive to motivation, but hear me out. We all need duvet days. Give into that self-indulgence, and watch some trash on Netflix or read a book. If you have that constant negative conversation in your head of how 'lazy' and 'unproductive' you are, tell it; 'so what?' We shouldn't have to be hyper productive at all times. Being stressed or down means our brains are working at half capacity so accept that today, it's just not going to happen. Like the *ancient* proverb states: "Why do today, what you can do tomorrow".
5. Remember why you want to get that thing done
Try to tap back into why you want to feel motivated and achieve your goal. Change the conversations from 'because I have to' to something more specific. I want to write more articles because it's cathartic for me and I want to make a career from it, which means I need as much practice as I can get.
6. Listen to some feel-good music and make yourself sing to it
80's classics, Motown, the sass of Destiny's Child; we all have certain music that is guaranteed to lift our spirits. If sickly sweet or overly happy music makes you feel a bit ill, stick on something sad instead because this can bring comfort and lower anxiety for certain people.
7. Talk to someone who makes you feel better
Don't be afraid to ask for help, or just tell somebody you need motivating. From friends, relatives or support networks such as Samaritans; there's always someone who wants to listen to you.
8. Do something monotonous
Cooking, showering, washing your clothes or doing a food shop are all tasks that give you mind a break whilst you focus on the small steps at hand. Do your best to focus intently on the action, the senses around you. Giving your mind this rest will often leave you feeling more mentally refreshed and ready to be motivated.
Most importantly, reward yourself when you crush anxiety and step out of the comfort of depression and get something done, however small.