Personal Productivity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people wanting to improve their personal productivity. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I feel like I am always low on energy, my mood is always sad. I feel depressed all the time and I feel like blood rushing through my veins. I know this is all because I keep failing at all the things I do and right now, I am committing career suicide by working where I work now but it can't be helped for reasons I am not going to mention here.

So my question is how do I make myself feel better? my financial/career crisis are not going to be over soon so until then how do I make myself feel better or should I just go ahead and bear it until all this is resolved?

share|improve this question
It will be hard for us to help you here, as your question is rather unspecific. Generally, sports and sunlight have an antidepressant effect, so think about going for a run every day before work. If that does not help, your best bet might be to see a therapist and work through any issues in depth. Good luck. – Stephan Kolassa Apr 2 '14 at 13:16
@StephanKolassa Thank you for your response. Due to my mad working hours and routine, unfortunately I don't have time to take a walk everyday. And as per my financial condition, I can't afford a therapist. Although I am taking a anti-depressant "Lexotanil" every other day which helps me to some extent but I hate taking it as sooner or later it will become my need and as my job requires a fresh mind everyday, I shouldn't be taking anti depressants. – NewbieProgrammer Apr 2 '14 at 13:23
Therapy for depression (if you require it) does not necessarily mean medication. There are therapists out there that take cases on a pro bono basis. If you think therapy may be right for you, just call a few therapists and ask whether they can refer you to sources of information about something like this. Self-help groups may also be an option. – Stephan Kolassa Apr 2 '14 at 13:28
up vote 15 down vote accepted

Life is more than just money. And energizing yourself can be done in multiple ways.

I will go through several of them so you get an idea of the methods out there. Mind you, though, that motivation is a rather personal concept. Hence I can only help you on a global level. Finding out what really motivates you, I cannot help you with. It's a personal journey that sometimes takes a long time to achieve.


Life will inevitably make you fail over and over again. You will make mistakes. Everybody does. But you must find the beauty in not willing to give up. Just keep trying and trying and trying.

There's a simple rule for this: if you refuse to give up, you must eventually succeed.

By taking a small 10 minutes each morning to walk around your block and think of the hardship you are facing, you can achieve this mindset. After all, what is an obstacle but a destraction from your goals?


Another thing that may motivate people is partaking in an activity that they enjoy a lot, before or while doing an activity they don't enjoy. A good example of this is coffee. If you enjoy good coffee, making a good cup of coffee right before you start working, can put you in the right mindset.


One of the most remarkable methods of provoking happiness and motivation is forcing a smile on your face. According to this article by the Scientific American, smiling can reinforce and even drive your emotions. So if you have to do something you don't like, just force that smile on your face. Make yourself smile thinking of that great beer you are going to devour when you get home or just smile because of the stupidness of the activity.


Running, as a sport, is a great way to feel happy. Ever heard of a 'runners high'? It is caused by the release of endorphins in the brain. These little opioid peptides literally 'pep you up' as they target the same part of the brain that a romantic relationship can trigger. You can read more about this in this article by the New York Times.


Yes, Love is the best antidepressant there is. So love more! That's really all there is to say about it. Spend more time with your loved ones or find a partner. More info here


Did you know that you can only get a mental burn-out if you don't like what you are doing? Let me repeat that:

Did you know that you can only get a mental burn-out if you don't like what you are doing?

It is actually impossible to lack energy when doing something you enjoy extremely.

Let me tell you a story of a guest-lecture I had by a millionaire. This millionaire had motivated many people over the course of his career. One of his main points was that: you must find that something that makes you tick. You must find your talent. That which makes you get up in the morning. That which keeps you going.

This multimillionaire was once giving this same lecture to a group of Engineers in NY and one of the Engineers objected: "Sir, I don't have any special talent. I just go to work and that's it." But the multimillionaire responded: That's impossible and I will prove to you why. Tell me of a time you were proud of yourself! The Engineer thought for a moment and then shared the following story:

On one day I came home from work and I found my car totally destroyed at the front. I was very upset because I had just gotten it repaired a few days back. I didn't want to go back to the repair shop again, so I decided to fix it myself. I pushed the car into my garage and took out my laptop. I found all the blueprints of the exact model and then brought out all my tools. I ended up working on the car all night long. When morning struck, my car was repaired. I pushed it back outside and got in to drive to work. My neighbor came out and asked: "What happened? I thought I saw your car was destroyed yesterday?" The Engineer explained that he had repaired it himself and the neighbor was astonished.

The multimillionaire continued: "And did you go to work?". The Engineer responded: "Why of course, I felt so good about my accomplishment and I wanted to tell my colleagues about it". "But weren't you tired?", asked the multimillionaire. "I didn't even think about being tired at the time. No I don't remember being tired."

Now I ask you:

Do you think this was due to the Engineer's great set of tools or due to his passion and talent for working with mechanics? And why didn't the Engineer feel tired?

This real-life example is applicable to you too: you also have something that you are passionate about. Maybe you still need to find it, but everybody has it.

And when you find that which makes you tick, you will have much more joy and satisfaction in your life. And you will feel much more energized, just like the Engineer.

Also read this answer.

Quick motivation

Quick motivation can be gained by watching motivational movies. I can recommend the following:

You could, for example, watch a small YouTube movie every morning at breakfast.

Thorough motivation

The best motivation is self-confidence. And there's one book which is really great in giving you that (if you read it the correct way): The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino. This book will, supposedly, take you on a journey in which you will find yourself and your motivation.

Don't ponder

Just don't. Pondering about what could happen will not get you anywhere. Rather focus on the here and now. Enjoy moment to moment. Life's too short to live in the future.

Reject negativity

No negative movies. No negative music. No negative activities. No negative people. No negative thoughts. Simply reject it and you will feel much happier!

As a final note:

Most important of all, remember that motivation, happiness, sadness, stress and all emotions are merely chemical reactions in your brain.

And you know what:

You can control those reactions!

It's all in your brain. You have the power to feel sad. You have the power to feel happy. It's merely a game of mindset. You set your mind to happy, you are happy.

And eventhough that last lesson seems useless, if you learn to control it, it's the best method there is.

Good luck. We all know you can do it. And deep down inside you know yourself that you are powerful beyond measure. You can make it. You already have all the weapons you need. Now go and fight!

share|improve this answer
I think, perhaps - that this answer belongs in a new-age bible. – rm-vanda Apr 2 '14 at 22:51
@rm-vanda: I'm just trying to help. – Jean-Paul Apr 2 '14 at 22:52
And you've done very well ! – rm-vanda Apr 2 '14 at 22:52
No, I sincerely meant that this should be published and held in high esteem as a canonical answer to this general type of question. In fact, it should just automatically be added as an answer whenever someone tags a question with 'motivation' – rm-vanda Apr 2 '14 at 22:56
@Jean-Paul thank you so much for such a detailed answer and I agree with rm-vanda that your answer should be published somewhere! Thank you for taking time out to write such an answer. The rule that you mentioned if you refuse to give up, you must eventually succeed. was packed with so much punch that it really really got to me. (I would have voted you up if my reputation allowed) – NewbieProgrammer Apr 3 '14 at 4:31

One thing to keep in mind: Many medical issues have depression as a side effect: thyroid or adrenal deficiencies, diabetes. You can for example google "chronic fatigue syndrome" and find lists of issues that are a possible cause. If all of them have been tested negative, the doctor will call it CFS.

I would suggest the following order: Go to an endocrinolgy expert and let them check all of your hormones, guess is on thyroid because I know of 4 friends already who have been diagnosed and treated successfully with the missing thyroxin.

If the endocrinologist(?!) fails and you can afford it, also try the anti-aging docs like Hertoghe in Brussel, they don't just look into the blood valeus, but also consider symptoms, so chances are higher you will get the right therapy even if it is not perfectly visible to a normal doc, let's say for TSH the normal healthy value is around 1.0, then with 2.5 you could get treated while the standard doc will send you home because it is in the normal range of 0.5-4.0, which is just crazy, but that's modern medicine.

If that fails too, it might be still a medical issue, but one you cannot find a solution. Then there is nothing wrong with trying to find a different solution like psychotherapy and psychopharmaca. In our country there is difference between doctors of psychology and non-doctor psychiatrists. Make sure you get a real doctor, who could also prescribe medicine if needed, or you might get stuck in talk sessions because that's the only thing the non-doctor is allowed to do. Talk can be efficient, but is important to understand when it's not, that's why you need the experienced doc.

That's both the medical part, once fixed you have the potential fight your depression, the other problem will be habits you have collected during your depression and that you might wanna get rid of again.

There are many different ways of treatment and you might get stuck with a bad way if you believe the wrong people. Keep an eye on how much you actually improve, 5% better is good for a short term measure, let's say a talk session, so if it keeps getting better this way after each session that is good, but if it stays around 5% after a longer time that is bad. The people I know with thyroid problems say they got to 80-100% of their old selves.

As you might have realized, I don't like the talking stuff, but you should just try out different things and see what works for you. It doesn't matter if it makes empirical sense, you might be just different from the average person and need a different treatment.

Wish you the best!

share|improve this answer
Mary Shomon seems to be the guru for thyroid stuff: – user16246 Oct 30 '15 at 16:50
And the accepted answer from Jean-Paul is why so many struggle with it, because healthy people only have solutions that work for healthy people .. just saying ;) – user16246 Oct 31 '15 at 1:35

Diet diet diet.

Stop eating all sugary foods, any fat except if animal fat, butter or tropical plants, and there's a good case to be made to avoid grains, especially wheat.

Instead, eat minimally processed foods like meat, fish, eggs, lots of veggies (raw or cooked) and fresh whole fruit. For recipes, search for Paleo, Primal or (my favorite) Don't worry about weight - if you're hungry, eat. It's very hard to gain weight on vegetables so load up. For snacks, consider boiled eggs.

Try that for 30 days and if you still feel low on energy/motivation then there is something severely wrong with you and you need medical help. Perhaps you have thyroid issues, allergies or a chronic infection.

You have nothing to lose here - this is a cheap intervention with lots of people reporting improvement in energy and health, and you can know if it's for you in only 30 days of eating yummy food.

share|improve this answer

Depression is a real thing. Sure, everybody has down spells now and then. But some people have depression for long periods, and no amount of wanting the depression to end will solve it. For those who have not experienced depression, it seems like you should be able to just "think" yourself out of it. But that isn't always possible, and can sometimes make the person with depression think they just "don't get it", and feel even worse about themselves.

If you are actually depressed, and contemplating doing anything drastic, please get immediate help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Being depressed is not being weak. It's a medical condition, and should be treated as such. It's easy to feel defeated and isolated when you are depressed. The best way out is to remember that you are not your depression. You are depressed. And there are professionals who can help you with that.

Ask for help. When you are depressed, that can be a hard step to take. But it's the best thing you can do. If you don't want to see a doctor, talk to a friend. If you are depressed enough that you don't feel you have friends, find a counselor. If you can't afford a counselor, look for free local depression meet-ups or group sessions. Often hospitals will have these.

When you are depressed, failure can be soul-crushing. When you are not depressed, failure is a great way to learn and grow. When you are depressed, most of the things that those with positive outlooks laud as opportunities can seem like impenetrable barriers. Remember, it isn't you. It's your depression. It may be a part of you, today, but it doesn't need to define you. Take the first step, starting talking about it, and start looking for tools. Therapy, therapeutic pharmaceuticals, friends, hobbies, whatever it takes. Yes, it can be scary. But aren't you worth it? Well, if you're depressed, you may not think so. But trust me, you are.

It would be great if there was an easy fix for depression. For many people, there just isn't. But if you take the first step, many of the next steps become easier. Day to day life may become easier. Work may become more enjoyable. Or maybe not. But if you don't do anything, if you still continue to think that "I am depressed" rather than "I am suffering from depression" and start working to diagnose and reduce that suffering, it's unlikely anything will get better.

Remember. You are not your depression. You are depressed. And the best way to tackle this, or almost any other project, is to gather a great team around you. Get help. And then start taking the next steps. And take more steps. And eventually, hopefully, you'll start enjoying the walk.

share|improve this answer
Thank you so much for such a helpful answer! Much appreciated. – NewbieProgrammer Apr 12 '14 at 4:28

I've been struggling with depression too, for the last 10 or so years. Medication does help. So does therapy. Talk to your doctor.

Other than that, my advice is to enroll on a gym (near your home/work) where you pay by the month and can go any time you like.

A simple 5-minute walk on a treadmill will give you extra energy.

Other one: showers, shaving and dressing well. If you go a day or two without taking a shower, grow a beard and/or wear "sleeping clothes", you will feel like crap and then everything else (productive things) take on a whole "why even bother?" tint.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.