How Mental Health Affects Your Motivation

When you physically don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, it’s actually more of mental phenomenon than a physical one. Of course, there is the possibility that you had a strenuous workout the day before and therefore are so sore you can barely move. Usually, though, the saying of not being able to get out of bed in the morning is directly tied into mental health. So, what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? Motivation is a tricky concept because it can be fleeting. One second you can be super motivated to get a lot done and the next minute all you want to do is sit and relax. Motivation is more than just getting out of bed in the morning though. It’s also about your dreams, goals, and passions in life. Mental health has a drastic effect on one’s motivation, so if you’ve been having really high or really low motivation lately, your mental health may be the culprit. 


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What is Motivation?

Motivation essentially refers to explaining the “why” behind the things you choose to do, or not to do. Whether someone does something good or bad, there is usually always a reason or a motivation behind it. Other words for motivation could be “motive,” “incentive,” or “drive.” When you really want something, you’re often motivated to get it for a certain reason. Motivation drives people to do both really good and really bad things and it’s up to every individual to decide what they’ll do with theirs. 

Examples of Motivation 

In your career

Are you motivated to become a CEO? To start and run your own nonprofit? Whether you’re wanting to build something new or climb the corporate ladder, many people are motivated to grow their careers because they desire more money, want to give back, or like leading a team of people to accomplish something.

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On a sports team

You might be motivated to build muscle and get faster in order to go to the National competition, compete at the Olympics, or win a huge trophy. Or maybe you just want to beat your personal records. Whatever the reason, you show up to practice and work hard because you want to be successful.

In your educational pursuits

Do you desire to find the cure to cancer? Or do you want to teach high school English in a foreign country? Educational goals inspire people to study late into the night, take on internships and read as much as they can. These people realize that all the blood, sweat, and tears now will be worth what they’ll get out of it in the end.  


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Mental Health and Motivation

Motivation isn’t always natural to everyone and can actually be very difficult to have. This is especially true for those with mental health disorders. Whether you have depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, or some other disorder, it can be hard to have goals when all you want is to feel better. A lot of your focus goes into just trying to survive, or at least feel better when you have a mental health disorder. So, when people talk about future plans, goals, and what motivates them, it can sometimes be hard to relate. This is completely normal when you live with a mental health condition and nothing to be ashamed of.

The Paradox of Motivation

As it turns out, sometimes you have to first take action in order to have motivation, not the other way around. If you find yourself just wanting to stay in bed or feeling generally apathetic about your future goals and plans, you may consider making yourself do things even when you don’t feel like it. Scientific studies have shown that taking action can actually lead to motivation, while inaction leads to even less motivation. So, the next time you’re feeling down or unmotivated, think of those things you wish you had motivation for, then try doing them anyways. Even if you go to try studying and just can’t find the energy to do so, at least you tried. The more you do the things that either scare you or that you don’t have the motivation for, the easier it will hopefully become over time. 

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If it’s been a while since you’ve had solid goals or plans in place, try making a list of things you’d like to work towards. Even if you aren’t motivated to do anything, there are probably things you wish you were motivated toward. Write those down and post them somewhere you can see them every day. It’s okay if your motivation isn’t natural; sometimes it takes some time to grow it. If you or a loved one has a mental health disorder and doesn’t seem motivated in life, give plenty of grace to them. It’s hard enough experiencing a mental health condition, but with time, support, and a little bit of action, anyone can get back on their feet again. 

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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