Six Ways to Motivate Yourself to Move When You’re Feeling Down

Six Ways to Motivate Yourself to Move When You’re Feeling Down

Tamar Parmet

Tamar Parmet

Tamar graduated from Brandeis University in 2017 with a background in behavioral neuroscience research. After graduating, Tamar worked on several translational research studies examining the various underpinnings of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) at Boston Children’s Hospital. Here, Tamar helped develop a successful yoga and mindfulness program for IBD patients. She is excited to potentially improve patient quality of life through utilizing various non-traditional therapeutic approaches. Currently a Master of Social Work student at Boston University, she hopes to soon pursue a PhD in clinical psychology. Tamar plans to research the intersection of mental and physical health focusing on life-threatening illnesses. 

Six Ways to Motivate Yourself to Move When You’re Feeling Down

Share
No
Tamar ParMet Exercise Mental Health

Evidence-based research has consistently found that physical activity can improve emotional wellbeing and alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, depression or mood dysregulation can impair an individual’s ability to motivate themselves to engage in physical activity. 

The good news is that you are not alone if this is something you have experienced. In a recent study, we interviewed 77 women ages 21-34, who are currently engaged in physical activity, including yoga, cardio-based exercise, and resistance training. 

Here are six tips that we compiled from our focus group data when we asked our study participants how they have successfully motivated themselves to move during times when they felt the most down or depressed. 

1.    Set small attainable goals.
While establishing goals can be helpful for driving motivation, at times if the goals are too lofty, they may feel overwhelming or too intimidating. Many women in our study shared that starting small can be one of the best ways to motivate movement. Start with a 10-minute walk, or a 10-minute stretch, and see where that takes you! 

2.    Find an accountability buddy.
During emotionally challenging times motivating oneself to do anything can be hard and many cope by isolating. Another way to begin engaging in physical activity and to break out of the isolation bubble, can be to find an accountability buddy. Choose someone whose presence brings you joy and partner up to engage in movement. Our participants shared that during times when they couldn’t motivate themselves having another person to rely on made all the difference. 

3.    Find the setting that is right for you.
Our participants shared that various exercise settings, whether it be the gym, the yoga studio, or at home, could trigger varying types of emotions. For example, many women expressed that yoga offered a safe space, freed of judgment and filled with body positivity, whereas other settings, like the gym, made some individuals feel pressured to look and move in a specific way. When thinking about re-engaging in physical activity, find a movement setting that will lift you up. 

4.    Choose a form of movement that suits your emotional needs.
In our study, participants reported that various types of movement have differing impacts on emotional states. For example, yoga can soothe and relax whereas cardio-based exercise can be more energizing. On the other hand, resistance training can be empowering or grounding. Note what your specific emotional and physical needs are before selecting a type of movement. If you are feeling depressed maybe a short burst of yoga could provide a soothing internal sanctuary. 

5.    Connect to a community.
Surround yourself with other like-minded women that empower you to meet your goals. In this day and age, it is easy to become sucked into toxic exercise culture. Many of the women in our study expressed that engaging with a community of nonjudgmental women made a big difference for them in finding an exercise regimen that worked. This could come in the form of joining a running or walking club or trying out a new yoga or group fitness studio. 

6.    Create a sustainable routine.
It is easy to stay inside or in bed when feeling depressed. Many of our participants shared that creating a routine that was sustainable played a key role in motivating them to become active during emotionally challenging times. Once you find a type of movement that suits your emotional needs, consider integrating it into your daily or weekly schedule and stick with it! But be kind to yourself and know that healthy habits are dynamic and that if the routine you create stops working that it is ok to change it up. 

Tamar Parmet

Tamar Parmet

Tamar graduated from Brandeis University in 2017 with a background in behavioral neuroscience research. After graduating, Tamar worked on several translational research studies examining the various underpinnings of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) at Boston Children’s Hospital. Here, Tamar helped develop a successful yoga and mindfulness program for IBD patients. She is excited to potentially improve patient quality of life through utilizing various non-traditional therapeutic approaches. Currently a Master of Social Work student at Boston University, she hopes to soon pursue a PhD in clinical psychology. Tamar plans to research the intersection of mental and physical health focusing on life-threatening illnesses. 

ADAA Blog Content and Blog Comments Policy

ADAA Blog Content and Blog Comments Policy

ADAA provides this Website blogs for the benefit of its members and the public. The content, view and opinions published in Blogs written by our personnel or contributors – or from links or posts on the Website from other sources - belong solely to their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of ADAA, its members, management or employees. Any comments or opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors only. Please remember that the open and real-time nature of the comments posted to these venues makes it is impossible for ADAA to confirm the validity of any content posted, and though we reserve the right to review and edit or delete any such comment, we do not guarantee that we will monitor or review it. As such, we are not responsible for any messages posted or the consequences of following any advice offered within such posts. If you find any posts in these posts/comments to be offensive, inaccurate or objectionable, please contact us via email at [email protected] and reference the relevant content. If we determine that removal of a post or posts is necessary, we will make reasonable efforts to do so in a timely manner.

ADAA expressly disclaims responsibility for and liabilities resulting from, any information or communications from and between users of ADAA’s blog post commenting features. Users acknowledge and agree that they may be individually liable for anything they communicate using ADAA’s blogs, including but not limited to defamatory, discriminatory, false or unauthorized information. Users are cautioned that they are responsible for complying with the requirements of applicable copyright and trademark laws and regulations. By submitting a response, comment or content, you agree that such submission is non-confidential for all purposes. Any submission to this Website will be deemed and remain the property of ADAA.

The ADAA blogs are forums for individuals to share their opinions, experiences and thoughts related to mental illness. ADAA wants to ensure the integrity of this service and therefore, use of this service is limited to participants who agree to adhere to the following guidelines:

1. Refrain from transmitting any message, information, data, or text that is unlawful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, that may be invasive of another 's privacy, hateful, or bashing communications - especially those aimed at gender, race, color, sexual orientation, national origin, religious views or disability.

Please note that there is a review process whereby all comments posted to blog posts and webinars are reviewed by ADAA staff to determine appropriateness before comments are posted. ADAA reserves the right to remove or edit a post containing offensive material as defined by ADAA.

ADAA reserves the right to remove or edit posts that contain explicit, obscene, offensive, or vulgar language. Similarly, posts that contain any graphic files will be removed immediately upon notice.

2. Refrain from posting or transmitting any unsolicited, promotional materials, "junk mail," "spam," "chain mail," "pyramid schemes" or any other form of solicitation. ADAA reserves the right to delete these posts immediately upon notice.

3. ADAA invites and encourages a healthy exchange of opinions. If you disagree with a participant 's post or opinion and wish to challenge it, do so with respect. The real objective of the ADAA blog post commenting function is to promote discussion and understanding, not to convince others that your opinion is "right." Name calling, insults, and personal attacks are not appropriate and will not be tolerated. ADAA will remove these posts immediately upon notice.

4. ADAA promotes privacy and encourages participants to keep personal information such as address and telephone number from being posted. Similarly, do not ask for personal information from other participants. Any comments that ask for telephone, address, e-mail, surveys and research studies will not be approved for posting.

5. Participants should be aware that the opinions, beliefs and statements on blog posts do not necessarily represent the opinions and beliefs of ADAA. Participants also agree that ADAA is not to be held liable for any loss or injury caused, in whole or in part, by sponsorship of blog post commenting. Participants also agree that ADAA reserves the right to report any suspicions of harm to self or others as evidenced by participant posts.

RESOURCES AND NEWS
Evidence-based Tips & Strategies from our Member Experts
RELATED ARTICLES
Block reference