Mental Health: Motivation and mental wellbeing

Celebrate each achievement even small wins

As discussed in previous articles, mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a meaningful contribution to their community.

What motivates your behaviour?

Why do you do what you do?

What keeps you moving towards your goals?

Motivation is essential to maintaining our mental wellbeing and to setting and achieving our goals in life.

Types of motivation

Motivation is generally described as internal or intrinsic or external or extrinsic.

  • External/extrinsic motivation is motivation or drive to achieve our goals that comes from external rewards such as praise, accolades, social recognition and avoiding punishment or embarrassment. Fear sadly is also a powerful extrinsic motivator.
  • Internal/intrinsic motivation is motivation that comes from personal values, a sense of meaning and purpose and achievement and working towards personally constructive goals. However, internal guilt, a sense of shame and perfectionism can be negative, internal motivators.

Benefits of motivation

When we are positively motivated we are more energetic and more driven to achieve our goals. We will be more productive and efficient.

We will be more focused and determined. When we are motivated we are less stressed, less anxious, less prone to excessive worry.

What can demotivate us in life?

There are many challenges that can lead us to become demotivated in life including:

  • Discouragement and disappointment when the reality we are facing in life falls far below what we had expected
  • Disillusionment when what we have envisioned for ourselves and dreamed about seems unattainable
  • Distractions particularly from technology and excessive social media use can result in little or no motivation
  • Exhaustion and burnout can occur when we overextend ourselves or we become overstressed we can lose our motivation
  • Self-doubt and loss of courage particularly in the aftermath of a setback can also result in a sense of demotivation
  • Depression, part of the core symptoms of depression is a loss of motivation and drive

How can you build up positive, internal motivation?

  1. Look for meaning and purpose in what you do or do work that is meaningful and has a sense of purpose. Always figure out and remember why you are aiming at a certain goal and how it speaks to your personal values and beliefs. Meaningful work inspires us and motivates us.
  2. Simplify your goals and break them down into attainable steps
  3. Celebrate each achievement even small wins
  4. See any failures or mistakes as part of the learning process
  5. Speak life to yourself and into your situation
  6. Build a support network of people around you who will keep you accountable but also to encourage and support you.

If you think that you or someone that you know maybe struggling with mental health challenge, please contact your nearest health care provider and get help.

  • Dr Chido Rwafa-Madzvamutse  is a consultant psychiatrist. Feedback on WhatsApp: +263714987729)

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