Have you ever had those days where even making your bed feels like climbing Mount Everest? Many of us find feeling overwhelmed a more and more common state of being- with our jobs, the house, the kids, and what about all those goals you wanted to achieve, but now are on the back burner because life got in the way?
Don’t get me wrong- the productivity mindset can be a trap. We do not need, nor is it optimal, to be productive all of the time. Because of a little thing called balance there is a need for downtime and play or work time. That being said, if the downtime seems to be needed more and more and more and..
There are a couple ways to increase motivation naturally. Check it out:
- Achieve a small goal.
Something simple like making your bed, brushing your teeth, or putting in a load of laundry can help spark the production of dopamine- the brain chemical responsible for motivation- in your brain. Purposely putting small things on your to-do list, and then getting it done, can actually help you manage the big ones a bit easier. Plus, you know that feeling of using a permanent marker to cross something off the list? Oh, yeah!
BONUS: Still feeling overwhelmed about that big task/project/what-have-you? Set a timer and tell yourself you will just work on it for ten minutes. Once the ten minutes is up, you can choose to stop if you still want to. Chances are this will be enough time for your brain to produce some of that dopamine and the will to finish the task may show up!
Wait, am I really suggesting that you stop what you’re doing, take a pause/rest, and that will help you be more productive and get things done? Yes, I am. The benefits of meditation are numerous, but for the purposes of productivity, meditation can help with that overwhelmed feeling. To do so, take a few quiet moments, close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so, and just begin to focus on your breath. No particular fancy way. (Yes, you are doing it right.)
After let’s say, three, five, or nine breaths, take a moment to just notice the thoughts that are floating around your brain space. When we are overwhelmed, our brains can often feel like snowglobes all shaken up. However, when we slow down and give our thoughts time to settle, we can start to sort out what thoughts really need to be there, and moreover, what thoughts we want to be there.
If the thought-thing isn’t your thing, that is a-okay! Even just the moments of breathing can help your body self regulate emotions and settle feelings of overwhelmedness. Who knows? Maybe the dopamine levels have been there all along, but just some big feelings have gotten in the way.
While exercise is often times more linked with serotonin, there are some indirect links to dopamine production from exercise as well. (For example, see #1 on this list). However, in the long term, consistent exercise can help brain functioning and emotional regulation overall, so perhaps consider making exercise a part of your routine to not only help your physical body, but your emotional self as well.
4. Check your sleep.
Have you been sleeping enough? Too much? Sleep is a delicate balance (like most other things in life!), but luckily, sleep can be adjusted quite easily.
If you find your sleep is restless or not enough, consider making it a priority to sort it out. Low amounts of sleep can reduce overall dopamine production, and increase cortisol levels (AKA the stress hormone!). More stress and less motivation? No, thanks!
5. Talk to a professional.
Increasing motivation can be a goal to talk to a therapist, nutritionist, and even your primary care doctor about. Low dopamine levels can be symptoms of other imbalances that can be resolved. Whether it be something emotional getting in the way of your productivity, a imbalance of vitamins and minerals in your body, or some other physical cause, your goals are more than worth it to set up an appointment and resolve what’s been going on. You deserve productivity and rest time- you deserve balance in your life.
BONUS: Check out Nourish Your Mind’s offerings from trained clinical therapists and integrative nutritionists to help you achieve all you can.
By: Rachel Spear, LMSW
To set up an appointment with a Nourish Your Mind Specialist call (845) 547-0479 or email [email protected]