How to Get Motivated When Depressed: A Comprehensive Guide for Business Women

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Major depressive disorder impacts approximately 16.1 million American adults, a staggering figure that underscores the prevalence of depression in the U.S. today [1]. For many, particularly business women, the challenge of how to get motivated when depressed becomes a significant hurdle, impacting both personal well-being and professional success. Recent studies have indicated a correlation between emotional exhaustion at work and an increased likelihood of depressive symptoms, highlighting the need for strategies that address motivation within the context of depression [2].

This guide sets out to provide comprehensive strategies aimed at business women struggling with depression, offering actionable advice on how to find motivation when depressed, how to increase motivation, and ultimately, how to motivate oneself when navigating the complex interplay of mental health and professional life. From setting achievable goals to incorporating self-care into daily routines and creating a structured work environment, these tips on how to get motivated to work when depressed serve as a roadmap for fostering resilience and maintaining momentum, even in the face of setbacks [1][2].

Recognizing the Impact of Depression

Depression is a complex and multifaceted mental health disorder that disproportionately affects women, presenting unique challenges and symptoms that can significantly impact their personal and professional lives. Understanding the nuances of how depression manifests in women is the first step toward addressing and overcoming the lack of motivation often associated with this condition.

  • Prevalence and Causes:
    • Depression affects millions globally, with women being twice as likely to experience it due to factors like hormonal changes, stress, and trauma [1].
    • Specific life stages and hormonal shifts, including puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can trigger depression in women, making it crucial to recognize these potential risk periods [2].
  • Symptoms Unique to Women:
    • Women are more prone to experiencing symptoms such as anxiety, guilt, sleep disturbances, and mood swings, which can complicate the diagnosis and treatment of depression [2][5].
    • The presence of physical symptoms without a clear cause, such as aches, pains, headaches, and digestive problems, alongside traditional symptoms like persistent sadness, irritability, and thoughts of suicide, underscores the complexity of depression in women [7].
  • Impact on Motivation:
    • Depression’s hallmark symptom of a persistent lack of motivation affects daily activities and professional responsibilities, leading to a detrimental impact on work performance and overall quality of life [4][8].
    • Recognizing the signs of depression early and seeking appropriate treatment, which may include medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both, is essential for managing symptoms and preventing complications [4].

Understanding these aspects of depression is crucial for business women who are navigating the challenges of maintaining motivation and productivity in their professional lives while dealing with depression. Recognizing the need for targeted strategies that address these unique challenges is the first step toward fostering resilience and achieving professional success despite the hurdles posed by depression.

Setting Achievable Goals

To foster motivation amidst depression, especially for business women, setting achievable goals is paramount. This process involves a systematic approach that ensures goals are not only set but are realistically attainable, thus enhancing motivation and focus. Here’s how to approach this:

  1. Start with New Goals:
    • Set new goals: Begin by identifying new, achievable goals that reignite your momentum and focus. It’s essential to ensure these goals are meaningful and aligned with your personal and professional aspirations.
    • Breakdown of tasks: Divide these goals into smaller, manageable tasks. This breakdown simplifies the process, making each step seem less daunting and more achievable.
    • Connect with your ‘why’: Every goal should have a clear purpose. Understanding the ‘why’ behind your goals keeps you focused and minimizes distractions. Engage in exercises that help you discover this ‘why’ to maintain a clear vision of your objectives.
  2. Strategize and Schedule:
    • Realistic deadlines: It’s common to overestimate what can be achieved in a given timeframe. To counteract this, add a 25% buffer to your estimated deadlines. Utilize tools like Due or Todoist for reminders and to stay on track.
    • Focus on continuation: Rather than aiming for constant improvement, prioritize continuing what you’ve started. Viewing goals as a continuation of past efforts can lower the psychological barriers to getting started and make tasks feel more achievable.
  3. Overcome Obstacles:
    • Past failures: It’s crucial to acknowledge that failure is a part of the process. Instead of dwelling on past setbacks, focus on celebrating small wins and understanding the lessons they offer. This mindset shift helps maintain confidence and motivation towards achieving new goals.
    • Celebrate small achievements: Recognizing and celebrating each small step forward builds momentum and prevents feelings of being overwhelmed. This approach encourages a positive outlook and reinforces the progress being made towards larger objectives.

Incorporating these strategies into your daily routine can significantly impact how to get motivated when depressed. Remember, the key is to set realistic, meaningful goals and break them down into manageable tasks. By focusing on continuation, acknowledging past lessons, and celebrating every small win, you can navigate through depression with renewed focus and motivation.

Building a Supportive Network

Building a supportive network is a cornerstone for maintaining motivation, particularly when facing the challenges of depression. This network can consist of personal contacts like friends and family, as well as professional connections such as mentors, peers, and support staff. The deliberate construction and nurturing of these relationships can significantly impact one’s ability to stay focused and motivated. Below are strategies and steps to effectively build and maintain a supportive network:

  • Identify and Seek Support:
    • Personal Network: Engage with friends, family, or mentors who understand your journey. Share your struggles and achievements with them for encouragement and advice [9][15].
    • Professional Network: Pay attention to relationships with managers, peers, and support staff. A supportive work environment fosters motivation and can help you navigate through challenging times [9].
    • Entrepreneurial Network: For women entrepreneurs, joining associations like the National Association of Women Business Owners offers product discounts, conference invitations, and a peer network. Creating a small group of like-minded entrepreneurs for mutual goal support is also beneficial [10][11].
  • Networking and Relationship Building:
    • Social Clubs and Events: Join local social clubs or groups, such as the Union League for “Young Friends” memberships, to expand your personal network. Hosting dinners or happy hours allows you to meet potential clients, employees, and friends [11].
    • Professional Associations and Conferences: Participating in conferences, panels, and joining professional organizations can introduce you to individuals in your field for collaboration and idea exchange. Seek out collaboration opportunities and find mentors who encourage authenticity [11][12].
  • Maintain and Evaluate Your Network:
    • Continuous Evaluation: Identify the people in your current network and assess the quality of each relationship. Determine if there are gaps and seek new connections to fill those. Be proactive in maintaining your network by staying in touch, offering support, and being a good friend. Remember, networking is a two-way street [13].
    • Be Open and Supportive: Don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed and be there for others in their time of need. Surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate you. Be open to new experiences and opportunities that come your way [13].
    • Adaptation and Letting Go: Networks evolve, and so should your approach to maintaining them. Let go of relationships that no longer serve you and continuously look for new, enriching connections [13].

In essence, building a supportive network is not just about expanding your list of contacts. It’s about creating meaningful connections that provide mutual support, encouragement, and opportunities for growth. Whether it’s through personal relationships, professional associations, or entrepreneurial groups, a strong network is invaluable for navigating the challenges of depression and maintaining motivation in both personal and professional spheres.

Incorporating Self-Care into Your Routine

Incorporating self-care into your routine is vital for maintaining balance and motivation, particularly when navigating the challenges of depression. Here are practical strategies to integrate self-care seamlessly into your daily life:

Physical and Mental Well-being:

  • Regular Exercise: Engage in activities such as walking, yoga, or any form of exercise you enjoy. Exercise not only improves physical health but also has a positive impact on mood and stress levels [3].
  • Healthy Eating: Prioritize a balanced diet rich in nutrients. Good nutrition supports brain function and overall well-being [3].
  • Adequate Sleep: Ensure you get enough restful sleep. Quality sleep is crucial for emotional and mental health [3].
  • Mindfulness and Meditation: Dedicate time for practices that enhance focus, reduce anxiety, and improve emotional regulation. Even a few minutes a day can make a significant difference [16].

Taking Breaks and Enjoying Leisure:

  • Scheduled Breaks: Incorporate regular breaks into your day to step away from work-related tasks. Use this time for activities that you find relaxing or enjoyable, such as reading, gardening, or simply being outdoors [17].
  • Limit Screen Time: Set boundaries for work communication and social media usage, especially outside of work hours, to reduce stress and promote a healthy work-life balance [17].
  • Nature Time: Make it a non-negotiable part of your day to spend time outside. Whether it’s a walk, a meal, or sitting in a park, connecting with nature can significantly enhance mood and overall health [17].

Setting Boundaries and Practicing Self-Compassion:

  • Work-Life Balance: Clearly define work hours and stick to them. Avoid checking work emails or accounts during personal time to prevent burnout [17].
  • Self-Compassion: Be gentle with yourself, recognizing that it’s okay to have off days. Practicing self-compassion can increase motivation and resilience [3].
  • Micromovements: Integrate small movements throughout your day to relieve tension and improve posture. These can include stretching, rolling your shoulders, or simply moving more during the day [17].

In summary, incorporating self-care into your routine involves a holistic approach that nurtures your body, mind, and spirit. By setting achievable goals for self-care, taking intentional breaks, and practicing self-compassion, you can enhance your well-being and motivation. Remember, self-care is not a luxury but a necessity for success and empowerment in both your career and personal life [15].

Creating a Structured Work Environment

Creating a structured work environment is vital for enhancing productivity and motivation, especially when navigating through periods of depression. Here are some effective strategies:

Optimize Your Work Schedule

  • Divide Work into 90-Minute Chunks: Break your workday into three 90-minute sessions with at least 30-minute breaks in between. This structure is proven to improve productivity and maintain high levels of focus and energy throughout the day [16].
  • Set Clear Working Hours: Establish a routine by working from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, ensuring you do not take calls outside these hours. This helps in setting boundaries and prioritizing tasks [16].
  • Email Templates for Boundaries: Use drafted email templates to politely decline requests that demand your time or energy in ways that are not aligned with your goals, helping to maintain these boundaries effectively [16].

Workspace Management and Productivity Tools

  • Arrange and Declutter Your Workspace: Keep your immediate workspace organized by decluttering, avoiding sticky notes, and adding items that motivate you. A tidy workspace can significantly boost productivity [9].
  • Invest in Effective Tools: Tools that make work more efficient are worth the investment. Whether it’s software to manage tasks or ergonomic furniture, these can lead to a more productive work environment [9].
  • Routine Establishment: Incorporate routines for start-up, mid-day reset, and shut-down. These routines can help maintain focus and enhance productivity by structurally dividing the workday [9].

Creating a Positive and Supportive Work Environment

  • Empower Employee Choice: Allow employees to choose their work environment based on their preferences for temperature, noise, and light levels. This can lead to improved performance, satisfaction, and productivity [22].
  • Supportive Policies for Women: Implement policies that offer flexibility for parents and caregivers, establish clear work hours boundaries, and provide mentorship and peer support. An inclusive and safe workplace with clear paths for career growth and benefits tailored to diverse needs can foster a structured environment conducive to productivity [25].
  • Streamline Processes: Reduce unnecessary meetings and streamline processes to create an efficient work environment. This promotes relaxation and productivity, setting a positive example for the team [19].

By implementing these strategies, business women can create a structured work environment that not only caters to their professional needs but also supports their mental health, thereby enhancing motivation and productivity even when faced with depression.

Using Positive Affirmations and Visualization

Utilizing positive affirmations and visualization techniques can be transformative, especially for business women navigating the complexities of depression and motivation. Here’s how to effectively incorporate these strategies into your daily routine:

Positive Affirmations:

  • Crafting and Utilizing Affirmations:
    • Write affirmations that reflect your goals, abilities, and the positive mindset you wish to cultivate. Ensure these are in the present tense, first person, and positive form to foster a sense of immediacy and personal connection [27].
    • Regularly engage with your affirmations by reading them aloud or in your mind with conviction and enthusiasm at least twice a day. This repetition reinforces their power, gradually reshaping your thought patterns towards positivity and empowerment [27].
    • Tailor affirmations to various aspects of life, such as self-love, confidence, career success, and overcoming challenges. Making them personal and specific enhances their relevance and impact [29].

Visualization Techniques:

  • Detailed and Time-Based Visualization:
    • Engage in detail-oriented visualization by incorporating elements such as colors, sizes, shapes, and textures. This detailed approach makes the visualized outcomes more vivid and attainable [28].
    • Practice time-based visualization by imagining the successful achievement of your goals. Rehearse scenarios in detail, including the steps taken and the emotions felt upon success, to enhance the realism and impact of the visualization [28].

Combining Affirmations and Visualization:

  • Integration for Enhanced Impact:
    • Pair each affirmation with a corresponding visualization. For example, if your affirmation is about achieving a specific career milestone, visualize yourself in that moment of success—feeling the joy, hearing the congratulations, and seeing the results of your hard work [28].
    • Engage all senses and emotions in the visualization process. By doing so, the experience becomes more powerful and realistic, deeply embedding the desired outcomes in your subconscious [28].
    • Incorporate these practices into your daily routine, using them as tools for motivation and positive change. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, during breaks, or before bed, find times that work for you to consistently apply these techniques [26][28].

By consistently applying positive affirmations and visualization techniques, business women can create a fertile ground for motivation, resilience, and success, even in the face of depression. These practices not only help in rewiring the brain towards more positive thought patterns but also in manifesting the desired outcomes through focused intention and emotional engagement [26][27][28].

Prioritizing Tasks and Delegating

In the journey toward enhancing productivity and maintaining motivation while dealing with depression, prioritizing tasks and delegating effectively emerge as pivotal strategies. Here’s a structured approach to implementing these strategies in your professional life:

Identifying Tasks for Delegation

  1. Conduct a Task Audit: Begin by assessing your workload to identify tasks that can be efficiently handled by others. Look for administrative tasks or those that require specific skills that match your team members’ strengths [30][34].
  2. Match Tasks with Team Skills: Align tasks with the skills, strengths, and current workload of your team members to ensure you’re delegating to the right person [30].
  3. Empower through Trust: Once a task is delegated, trust your team members to complete it autonomously, allowing them to make decisions and solve problems. This not only empowers them but also fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility [30].

Effective Delegation Practices

  • Clear Communication: When delegating, it’s crucial to communicate the task, expectations, and deadlines clearly. Providing necessary resources and support sets the stage for success [30].
  • Feedback and Recognition: Regular check-ins to provide feedback and support are essential. Recognize accomplishments and offer constructive feedback to encourage improvement and build confidence [30].
  • Overcoming Gender Role Expectations: It’s important to acknowledge and navigate the additional challenges women may face due to traditional gender roles and expectations around caregiving and nurturing, which can sometimes hinder the delegation process [30].

Prioritizing Tasks

  • Utilize the Eisenhower Matrix: To effectively prioritize tasks, employ tools like the Eisenhower Matrix to categorize tasks based on their urgency and importance. This helps in focusing on what truly needs your attention [31].
  • Set Clear Expectations: Clearly defining what needs to be achieved with each task ensures that efforts are directed efficiently and effectively [31].
  • Adapt and Learn: Continuously refine your approach to prioritization and delegation based on feedback and outcomes. This iterative process ensures that strategies remain effective and aligned with changing needs [31].

By embracing these strategies, business women can navigate the complexities of managing a workload while dealing with depression. Effective delegation not only frees up valuable time for high-priority tasks and self-care but also enhances team productivity and morale. Prioritizing tasks ensures that energy is invested in the most impactful areas, fostering a sense of accomplishment and progress.

Seeking Professional Help if Needed

Seeking professional help when experiencing depression is not only advisable but often necessary to navigate through the condition effectively and maintain motivation. Here are some steps and resources to consider:

  1. Recognizing When to Seek Help:
    • Persistent low motivation for several weeks [3].
    • Experiencing signs or symptoms of depression that persist or do not go away [7].
    • Significant stress or anxiety caused by setbacks [3].
    • Symptoms such as lack of interest in things you enjoy, difficulty concentrating, inability to enjoy things, changes in sleep patterns, and changes in appetite [35].
  2. Finding the Right Professional Help:
    • Therapy and Counseling: Ideal for exploring thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and developing coping strategies [6].
    • Medication: May be recommended for managing symptoms effectively, especially in moderate to severe cases [6].
    • Combination Treatment: Often, a combination of therapy and medication offers the best outcomes [6].
    • Resources for Finding Help: Utilize helplines, disaster distress helplines, and the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for immediate support [6].
    • Types of Treatment: Familiarize yourself with the various types of treatment available, including counseling for related conditions and medications for substance use disorders, to understand all options [6].
  3. Employer Support and Awareness Initiatives:
    • Right Direction Initiative: Offers tools for employers to raise awareness about depression, promote early recognition of symptoms, and reduce stigma in the workplace [4].
    • Employers are encouraged to support early identification of depression and improve access to care, highlighting the importance of workplace mental health [3][4].
    • Awareness efforts include promoting Mental Health Awareness Month and participating in initiatives like the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative and National Prevention Week, which provide resources and webinars on prevention and recovery [6].

By understanding the importance of seeking professional help, knowing the signs that indicate it’s time to reach out for support, and being aware of the resources available, individuals can take proactive steps towards managing depression. Employers also play a crucial role in supporting their employees through awareness and access to care initiatives, creating a more understanding and supportive work environment.

Maintaining Momentum after Setbacks

Maintaining momentum after setbacks is essential for women entrepreneurs to continue pursuing their dreams and achieving success. Implementing specific strategies can greatly assist in this process:

  • Learning from Setbacks:
    1. Analyze What Went Wrong: Take a step back to understand the factors contributing to the setback. This analysis helps in identifying areas for improvement [1].
    2. Identify Areas for Improvement: Once the contributing factors are understood, pinpoint specific areas where changes or improvements can be made. This proactive approach prevents the repetition of similar mistakes in the future [1].
  • Celebrating Progress and Seeking Inspiration:
    • Celebrate Small Successes: Acknowledging and celebrating even the minor victories along the way can significantly boost confidence and motivation. This practice helps in maintaining a positive outlook towards achieving larger goals [2].
    • Learn from Others: Look for stories of successful women entrepreneurs who have faced and overcome adversity. These stories can serve as a source of inspiration and motivation during challenging times [3].
  • Practical Strategies to Increase Motivation:
    • Nature Walks: Regular walks in nature can rejuvenate the brain and increase motivation, providing a fresh perspective and energy to tackle challenges [3].
    • Pairing Tasks: Combine a less enjoyable task with something you enjoy. This strategy can make the task more pleasant and increase motivation to complete it [3].
    • Rewards for Working: Implementing a system of small rewards for starting or completing a task can provide the necessary motivation to take action [3].
    • The 10-Minute Rule: Allow yourself to stop a task after 10 minutes if it feels too daunting. Often, the hardest part is getting started, and you may find the motivation to continue once you’ve begun [3].
    • Consistent Action Leads to Motivation: Remember that motivation often comes after taking action. Making action a habit can create the motivation needed to keep moving forward [5].
    • The Feeling of Accomplishment: Experiencing the feeling of having completed something can serve as a powerful motivator for future tasks and challenges [5].

By integrating these strategies, women entrepreneurs can effectively maintain momentum after setbacks, ensuring continuous progress towards their goals and aspirations.


Throughout this comprehensive guide, we explored various strategies aimed at empowering business women to find and sustain motivation amidst the challenges of depression. From recognizing the unique manifestations of depression in women and setting achievable goals, to creating a structured work environment and prioritizing self-care, each strategy plays a crucial role in fostering resilience and promoting professional success. Moreover, the importance of building a supportive network, employing positive affirmations, and seeking professional help when necessary emphasizes a holistic approach to managing depression and maintaining motivation.

In closing, it’s clear that while the journey through depression is deeply personal and can present significant hurdles to staying motivated, especially in the demanding world of business, there are actionable steps that can be taken to navigate this challenging landscape. By integrating these strategies into daily routines and professional practices, business women can not only overcome the barriers posed by depression but also thrive, achieving both personal well-being and professional excellence. The guide serves as a testament to the power of resilience, structured support, and targeted action in the face of adversity.


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