9 AMAZING Ways to Stay Motivated and Beat Depression!
9 Scientifically Proven Ways to Stay Motivated and Crush Depression Naturally.
It’s Not What You Think…
Whether you simply lack motivation, suffer from depression or are crippled by anxiety; I understand how you feel. Finding motivation and keeping a positive and focussed mindset is not easy on the best of days, never mind the bad days. Depression and no motivation go hand in hand, when you’re depressed you have absolutely zero motivation and sometimes just getting out of bed seems like climbing a mountain.
In the fitness industry most gurus and experts talk about training, nutrition and supplements when it comes to achieving your goals. However, they miss a key ingredient to success, the MIND! It’s easier said than done applies here nicely; it’s all good if you know what to train in the gym and what to eat to be healthy but if you don’t have the motivation and the right mindset, it will all fall apart very fast. If you’re looking for how to stay motivated and just generally feel more positive, you’ve come to the right place!
Being mentally motivated, positive and focussed for me is a top priority. I run a very busy business where I do most of the work myself including packing orders and writing training plans, I have to constantly be in top physical shape and we’ve just welcomed our first baby son to the family.
Needless to say, I have a lot to do and a fair amount of stress and responsibility; I can’t afford to have an off day. If you know my story, you’ll know that I’ve also suffered from mental health problems including anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). With Unchained Muscle being busier than ever and with a baby on the way I found the added stress was exasperating my OCD and I found myself feeling down, tired and just not motivated. Rather than giving up, I decided to find ways to get myself back motivated and mentally stronger.
I’ve done countless hours of research into motivation, psychology, biology, nutrition and even meditation in the aim of finding ways of controlling my mind and developing a mindset that is positive, focussed and strong.
Want to know the best part?
I’ve found what works! Although like everyone I still have the occasional down day, I’m in an extremely positive place, overflowing with motivation and crushing my goals like never before! I’m here to share my findings so you can find the motivation and mental well-being to achieve everything you’ve dreamt of. Here are my top 9 ways that I’ve learnt from experience and from research.
In no particular order, but this has to come first since this blog is primarily about fitness! You can fight depression with exercise, and it is undoubtedly one of the best ways to improve your mental and physical well-being. It may be tough to start your workout but as soon as you get going, I bet you’ll suddenly find the motivation to keep on pushing and love every minute of it.
It gets better:
There’s a tonne of scientific research to show that exercise is very effective at beating depression naturally. There’s a biological reason for this, it’s what makes exercise addictive; exercise causes our bodies to produce natural painkillers called endorphins. Endorphins bind to opiate receptors in the brain and make us feel amazing, happy and motivated not to mention relieve pain. The highly addictive drug heroin as well as other opioid based painkillers bind to these opiate receptors, which is what makes us feel high and euphoric but also makes these substances highly addictive. Exercise is a fantastic way to get a natural high and generally it’s never a bad thing to be addicted to exercise!
Most research seems to suggest there is no best exercise for depression, both cardio and lifting seem to produce the same neurological response.
After a hard training session, whether it be weight training or cardio, I feel insanely motivated after to get things done and that motivation can carry me through the rest of the day. If you’re feeling down, get to the gym or go for a run and after I can guarantee you’ll have a completely different outlook on life.
I’ve recently taken up meditation and it’s massively helped me reduce my stress and anxiety. When you’re anxious and stressed about something, it’s extremely difficult to stay focussed and motivated on what matters.
Meditation is a vast topic with thousands of years of history. If you’re interested in trying meditation, research and read as much as you can; it’s not easy and having the knowledge about how to practice it properly will increase your chances of success. Many people try it and give up way too quickly before they can reap the rewards, much like fitness, meditation is a lifestyle that requires commitment and consistency.
Meditation is starting to become more accepted in the western world and research is beginning to show that meditation for stress and anxiety can be very effective. There are many different types of meditation and you’ll need to find which one is best suited for you. The best meditation for anxiety seems to be mindfulness.
Mindfulness is being aware of what you’re doing; most mindfulness meditation will focus you to be mindful of your breathing. You simply focus on each breath, in and out and try to become fully aware of all the sensations of your breath and keep your mind clear of other thoughts. Your mind will inevitably start to wander, and the aim is to gently bring your awareness back to your breath and repeat this process until you’re finished. It’s been shown that just 10 minutes a day of mindfulness meditation can be very beneficial for fighting anxiety and improving your mood.
For further reading on meditation I recommend The Little Book of Mindfulness by Dr Patrizia Collard and Waking Up by Sam Harris.
Unfortunately we’re not machines, much to my annoyance I’ve come to realise I have to give myself a break. Motivation and willpower will dwindle after a while and there’s nothing you can do about it. I’ve tried to sit down and work on a business project for ten hours straight and it doesn’t work, by about five hours I’m feeling shattered. This is particularly relevant if you’re interested on how to stay motivated to study.
To work or study productively and positively you must give yourself a break not to mention a good amount of sleep. When I find my motivation starting to dwindle and I start losing focus, I immediately take a break, I get myself something to eat and do something relaxing. After an hour or so, I’m raring to get back to work.
Here’s the deal:
Trust me I’ve tried staying awake for 24 hours plus and working non-stop, in the end you’ll burn out and end up feeling tired and depressed. We’re not machines and nothing can compensate for rest and sleep, you’re never going to have an unlimited source of energy and motivation, so don’t pretend that you do.
4) Optimise testosterone
This is for the men out there but it’s important to mention. Research is beginning to show a strong link between low testosterone and depression in men. Low testosterone comes with a host of consequences which include depression, lack of energy, decreased sex drive and loss of motivation.
Testosterone seems to affect how our bodies produce the neurotransmitter serotonin. Men with low testosterone seem to produce less serotonin in the brain. Serotonin regulates our mood and low serotonin makes us feel low and depressed. A specific class of antidepressants called SSRIs specifically increase serotonin in the brain by preventing the reuptake of it in the synapses.
Men with low testosterone need to get their levels up to a normal range. Your doctor will test your levels for you and discuss possible treatment options if they are very low. However, there are many easy natural ways that are scientifically proven to increase your testosterone levels. I wrote an entire article about 11 Essential Foods Proven to Skyrocket Your Testosterone, check it out and you’ll have your testosterone back up in no time.
Me and my team also wrote a complete comprehensive guide on how to drastically increase your testosterone and other anabolic hormones through scientifically proven advanced training, diet, lifestyle and supplementation methods. Grab yourself our No.1 best-selling Anabolics Unchained Plan HERE. This is currently on offer with a massive 60% discount for this month only.
If you’re a man looking for how to beat depression, seriously consider that maybe you have low testosterone.
5) Get outside
This is a simple one, but it works. Staying inside the four walls of your home will eventually get you down and you’ll lose perspective on life. Get out and go for a walk, go to the shop or meet a friend. It’s simple and requires so little effort but it works straight away. If you’re looking for how to fight depression, even doctors will tell you to get out of the house!
We are not built to live inside, sitting at a desk all day or enclosed by a cubicle, our ancestors were outside hunting and gathering. Depression is far more prevalent in modern times and in first world countries. Many experts believe this is because modern life is not suitable to how we’ve evolved. We’ve evolved to be active creatures not to be sat at a desk all day staring at a computer screen.
How to stay motivated at the gym is one of most common questions I get asked; my response is to get some headphones and listen to whatever music gets you pumped! In my opinion, a good tune and beat gets you far more motivated than any stimulant packed pre-workout.
This is hardly a surprise because a vast majority of us love listening to music. Just look around your local gym and I guarantee you’ll see most people wearing headphones as music is one the best ways to stay motivated during your workout.
Our brains are wired to process music from birth, music is food for the soul and science is backing this up. When we do something that we enjoy such as eating or having sex, our brains release the neurotransmitter dopamine which makes us feel good and positively reinforces that behaviour.
This is crazy:
A recent study using a combination of PET and fMRI scanning techniques showed that music also floods our brains with the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter dopamine! Dopamine is specifically involved in reward and motivation behaviours which explains why music is so motivating.
Music therapy for people suffering from depression is now becoming popular and the results are promising. Even without looking at the research, I know first-hand that nothing motivates and lifts my mood like music does.
If you’ve read this far you’ve probably realised that our mood and motivation is largely governed by chemicals in our brains called neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.
But here's the kicker:
Neurotransmitters are made from the nutrients we get from our diet!
You can easily fight depression with food, you just have to know which nutrients are essential to regulating your mood. This is a vast topic that is beyond the scope of this article, so I highly recommend you research this further, but I’ll give you the basics.
Omega-3, found in oily fish (salmon) and some nuts (walnuts) is essential for brain health. Scientists have found that societies that don’t eat enough omega-3s have higher rates of depression. Omega-3 is also essential for heart health, healthy cholesterol and helps with weight loss and testosterone production.
Carbohydrates are linked to the mood-boosting brain chemical serotonin; carbs seem to help our bodies produce it, this can be why some people get depressed and anxious on low carb diets. The key is picking the right sources of carbohydrates, you don’t want to be eating sugar that will mess with your blood glucose levels. You want to be eating slow releasing complex carbs (grains, rice, oats) that will slowly release glucose into your bloodstream at a steady rate without a crash.
The amino acid tryptophan is a building block to serotonin, tryptophan is found in all animal proteins so be sure to be getting a decent amount of protein in your diet. Tryptophan is also found in raw chocolate!
Most experts believe that the best diet for depression is the Mediterranean diet as it’s rich in omega-3s and other essential fatty acids. It’s also full of fruits and vegetables which are rich in B vitamins that are essential for energy.
A lot of the nutrients mentioned above can also be obtained from supplementation. There are also some great supplements for motivation and depression that you can’t get from your diet.
Getting an adequate amount of omega-3 from food is not easy and it’s sometimes not possible to be eating a portion of oily fish every day; an omega-3 supplement such as cod liver oil is a great option.
Tryptophan as I mentioned earlier is an amino acid that’s an essential building block to serotonin. You can buy tryptophan powder or capsules if you think that you may not be getting enough. This is a good option if you don’t eat much animal protein as you may be deficient in some essential amino acids.
Stimulants such as caffeine can give you a good boost in energy and motivation. However, if you’re sensitive to stimulants and prone to anxiety caffeine can be detrimental to your mental well-being. Anxiety can be controlled by careful dosing of stimulants and using low doses to stimulate you but not cause panic. If you’re a very anxious person then it may be wise to completely cut out caffeine and stimulants, you may feel much better for it.
One of my personal favourite supplements for improving my mood and motivation is Inositol. Inositol is a vitamin like substance that’s shown promise in helping with anxiety, panic attacks, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Although more research is needed before we can say for certain; but personally, I’ve found that it improves my mood and improves my symptoms of OCD.
Green tea or it’s more powerful cousin matcha green tea is a great energy and brain booster. Firstly, it’s an insanely powerful antioxidant, 100 times more powerful than vitamin C or E! Antioxidants protect our cells from free radical damage which is essential for a healthy brain and body.
Green tea is also a natural source of caffeine but contains a small amount which can be useful if you’re fighting anxiety. Green tea is also rich in a compound called L-theanine which has repeatedly demonstrated benefits on mood and cognition. Research has shown that the combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves mood, memory and concentration but the L-theanine blunts the overstimulation of the caffeine.
What’s the bottom line?
The bottom line is the combination of L-theanine and caffeine in green tea will improve your mood, motivation and energy levels but won’t make you feel jittery or anxious as caffeine alone would.
Finally, a controversial mention but I need to talk about the very interesting plant kratom. This is for informational purposes only and I do not recommend using kratom if it’s illegal in your country.
Kratom is a plant that is very similar to the coffee plant and is packed full of a variety of alkaloids. Kratom leaves are dried and powdered to be taken as supplements. The alkaloids in kratom influence the opiate receptors in the brain, the receptors that when stimulated make us feel happy and numb physical and emotional pain. There are many different strains of kratom each with their own unique profile of alkaloids.
White kratom is similar to caffeine and give us an energy boost but without the jitteriness. Red kratom relaxes and calms us and is particularly effective for anxiety. Green kratom provides a unique blend of energy and relaxation. Many bodybuilders looking for how to stay motivated to workout turn to green kratom to give them the motivation to power through tough workouts.
Kratom is addictive as it can dramatically improve your mood which makes it one of the most popular supplements for depression. It’s been used in the eastern world for thousands of years but it’s gaining popularity as natural painkiller, mood lifter and cognitive enhancer in the west.
Kratom will give you huge amounts of motivation within 20 minutes of taking it and has shown promise for treating conditions like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); but it is addictive. Since it’s addictive some countries such as Thailand have banned it and other countries won’t allow you to import it. Make sure you check your countries laws and research it for yourself before you consider using it.
9) Write down your goals
As humans when we make a physical and public commitment to something by writing it down, we feel a greater sense of obligation and motivation to complete that task. Robert Cialdini refers to this as the commitment and consistency principle of persuasion in his best-selling book Influence. You can use it to persuade yourself into getting things done!
Whenever I want to get something done, I write it down and I instantly feel a greater sense of motivation to complete that task.
It gets better:
You can take this one step further by making it a public commitment by telling your friends and family or posting it on your social media. I create checklists for everything I plan on getting done and it’s amazing how powerful of a motivator it is! It’s one of the most simple but best ways to stay motivated towards your goals!
Well done! Way to go! You’ve made it to the end and now have 9 powerful techniques on how to motivate yourself and stay positive! What’s your favourite way for how to get motivated? Drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you!
If you suffer from depression or any mental health problem, I understand how hard it is to stay motivated and not everything I’ve suggested may work for you. Please, if you’re suffering, talk to your doctor and get the help you need.
If you want to support Unchained Muscle and those suffering from mental health problems, grab yourself some of our Break the Chains charity apparel HERE. Up to 20% of ALL sales on the Break the Chains clothing range is directly donated to the mental health charity Mind.
Want to learn more secrets? All our Diamond and Obsidian tier fitness coaching comes with a FREE Unchained Mind Plan! The unique mindset enhancement eBook teaching you how to motivate yourself, stay positive, crush depression and anxiety and form unbreakable successful habits using scientifically proven psychology and biology, all exclusive to Unchained Muscle®! All our fitness coaching services come with full money-back guarantees!
For even more information on beating depression, anxiety and other mental health problems check out our YouTube video series called Breaking the Chains on Mental Health! Remember to subscribe!
Break the chains that hold you back!
Richard Ahern is the CEO of Unchained Muscle®, fitness model and REPS certified trainer with 10 years of training experience and a background in biology and chemistry.
1) What exercise is best for depression? https://www.cbhs.com.au/health-well-being-blog/blog-article/2017/10/02/what-exercise-is-best-for-depression
2) The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20350028
4) What are the symptoms of low testosterone? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322647.php
5) Why Listening to Music Makes Us Feel Good https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/your-musical-self/201101/why-listening-music-makes-us-feel-good
6) Depression and Diet https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/diet-recovery#3
7) Effect of Green Tea Phytochemicals on Mood and Cognition https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312134830_Effect_of_Green_Tea_Phytochemicals_on_Mood_and_Cognition
8) Can You Use Kratom for Depression and Anxiety? https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/kratom-for-depression#takeaway
9) Commitment and Consistency http://www.influenceatwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/CommitmentandConsistency-spooky.pdf