23 Ways to Get Motivated To Study When Depressed

Depression, either mild or severe is a common mental disorder that is triggered by traumatic events. Some people are depressed without even knowing it!

Lack of motivation is a simple symptom of depression, however, not all states of demotivation are as a result of depression. There could be other causes such as tetchiness, restlessness, fatigue, lack of appetite, lack of sleep, and amplified need for more sleep.

You just need to ensure your current state of mind isn’t affecting other significant aspects of your life.

  • Are you struggling to study with little or no interest?
  • Do you find yourself restless while trying to study?
  • Do you lose concentration easily?

If you ever find yourself in a state of depression as a student, here are a few tips to get you motivated to study.

1. Define your goals

Often, people have low morale while studying because they do not have a goal in mind. Examination, test or a presentation are good goals but they are too generic in nature.

Defining your goal in such a way that is specific will help you so you follow through. “I want to have a distinction in a particular course” is more like it. Another example is  – I want to study the first five chapters of this handbook.

Make your goal as specific as you can and you will begin to notice an internal motivation and drive. One of your goals could be to maximize graduate opportunities abroad after your first degree. This video below will give you some insights.

2. Make your goals realistic

A mistake that often causes depression is not setting a realistic goal. Ideally, your study goals should be achievable within a time frame.

The easiest way to go about being motivated to tackle a big study goal is to break it down into smaller, manageable goals. You will get motivation as you achieve them step by step.

Finishing a chapter gives you the drive and satisfaction to go for another chapter. By tackling and achieving the small goals, you, in turn, get motivated to attempt the next goal for the course, semester or year.

3. Have a routine

"23 Ways To Get Motivated To Study When Depressed

There is no way you can break something you don’t have. Before you can do something consistently, you would have had a routine. The motivation you get from the accomplishment of your daily routine habitually reduces the chances of depression.

Routines can have checkmarks so you know the task you have completed and the task you have to complete. This will keep you motivated to finish them. You will be motivated to study once you have made studying part of your routine and you have accomplished the task preceding the study.

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4. Move with like minds

Being around like minds will ensure you get you to do more of that thing. You will study more when you are amidst the people studying.

You just have to be careful to be in a group that studies more than you currently do because if they study less, you will be influenced to study less too. Do you wish to increase your GPA this semester? move with people that want to do that too.

5. Know what depression is

It is a state. As you study, you must know this that you are not abnormal, you are just in a state of depression.

A good thing about the state is that it changes! So with this awareness, you know that you can change from that of depression to a state of motivation.

You can also speak to an academic counsellor to help you overcome.

6. Meditate

You may ask how I expect someone depressed to meditate?

Well, what I would like you to focus on is your thoughts, feelings, and emotion. This way, you can make deductions about the cause and possible solutions.

Meditation puts the cause of the depression into perspective and allows you to see your depressive part in a new light. Once you discover the problems, it’s easier to focus on getting a lasting solution.

7. Break your pattern

Often depression is caused by a particular event or thing because it is repeated so many times or because it has been sustained for a long time. To motivate yourself to study, you might need to break those patterns once in a while.

Do something out of your routine. As I do say “surprise yourself”. Do something outrageous or something you have not done before.

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8. Change the battleground

An eagle that wants to have a snake for dinner will not fight the snake on the ground but pick it up into the air where the snake does not have power and the eagle has all the advantages.

Playing to your strengths should be your major focus every time as you plan to study. If it is an event that will make you depressed, find a way to prevent it. If it is a place, then leave the place or don’t go there. Find a better place that will not bring memories of past depression. Be where you are at your best.

Read: 40 easy ways to actually love yourself more

9. Go physical

Psychological or emotional mediation can also be used to alleviate depression. There are a lot of physical activities that can be done to change that state of depression and get motivated to study.

You could take a shower to calm your body and reduce the stress on your brain and body. A cold shower is usually preferable as exposure to a little cold (air, water) helps the brain function better. You are more likely to get motivated to study when your brain isn’t stressed out.

10. Swim

You don’t necessarily need to stay in water for a long time. It might just be a five to fifteen minutes swim to regulate your body temperature and get your mind off the things that depress you.

If you cannot swim, there are a whole lot of other physical activities to motivate you and reduce depression. Just read on.

11. Physical exercise

23 Ways To Get Motivated To Study When Depressed

Physical exercise can help alleviate depression, from ordinary jumping to a more complex physical exercise. Apart from making you get out of your head, it also increases the release endorphins (pain relief).

You can slot in exercise between your study times. Five to ten minutes of exercise break is enough to motivate you to study more and reduce your chances of slipping into depression.

12. Go for a walk

You can clear your mind with this simple exercise. Walking helps the mind to clear the clutter and refreshes you. If you feel you are getting depressed to study or while studying, just take a walk. It can just be a stroll in the garden, park or along the street


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13. Avoid social media

One of the major causes of pressure nowadays is social media, especially among youths and teenagers. Don’t get me wrong, social media has its advantages but research continues to link the use of social media to depression. Apart from that fact, more time spent on social media means less time studying. The chances of depression and anxiety increase with the time spent on social media.

14. Socialize with other excellent students

While social media might cause depression, socialization doesn’t. In effect, socialization alleviates depression as long as it is spent with positive people.

If you can just get positive-minded people to study with, you’ll be more motivated to achieve your academic goals.

Volunteering to teach others and getting the help you need at the right time will also improve your mood and motivate you to study. Staying around the right people reduce the chances of depression.

15. Do not resist

The radical thing a lot of people do when they are depressed is they try to resist the depression. Meanwhile, resisting depression only prolongs its existence as it is said that what you resist, persists.

Resisting depression gives more power to it. So to get motivated to study when you’re depressed, do not push through using sheer will. Instead, find a solution to the problem causing the depression.

16. Check your diet

23 Ways To Get Motivated To Study When Depressed

Your diet affects your emotions and state. As your food and eating habits can get you into a state of depression, it can also get you out. You should change your eating habits if you find yourself depressed to study.

Some of the things you should steer clear off are alcohol consumption, stimulants, and sugar. While these foods might make you feel good for a while, they sure don’t remove it.

Depression returns with full force as the effects of the food and stimulants wear off. To help yourself a great deal, eat lots of fruits, vegetables and water.

17. Get enough sleep

You can be less motivated to study when you are deprived of adequate sleep.  Your brain needs to rest to replenish your energy when you’re physically drained.

You need adequate sleep at all times because too much or too little sleep can affect your mood. Get enough sound sleep & you can be motivated to study more.

18. Self-awareness

Most of the problems people have will be solved if they could give a little more attention to their personality traits. Learning more about yourself, what you can handle, your limits, weaknesses and strength might just be what you need to snapback.

Additionally, people feel sad easily when they have inadequate knowledge about their stance. Know more about yourself and be sincere with your chosen path. Then you will find an internal motivation to face anything that comes your way.

19. Get help

23 Ways To Get Motivated To Study When Depressed

Getting out of depression on your own as a student can sometimes be difficult or challenging. At this point, you should get help. “A problem shared is a problem half solved.” You can reach out to friends and family members or professionals.

Therapist and professional counsellors have a lot of experiences that will help you overcome your current situation. Getting to talk to someone sometimes is enough to alleviate depression and asides from that, you could also get the help you need to study.

Professionals could help you with the treatment of depression with a combination of Psychotherapy and medication.

Examples of medication that should be used only when prescribed by professionals are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs), tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors.


20. Don’t overschedule

Too much of anything is not good. Make your schedule simple enough that it does not stress you out. Scheduling should simplify your life, not complicate it. Maximize your time effectively to ensure you follow your schedules.

If it is just five tasks that you can accomplish, do it and congratulate yourself. A nice schedule is enough motivation to study on its own.

21. Equip yourself for motivation

As you try to alleviate depression, you should also focus on equipping yourself to be motivated. Get resources you need to regain motivation.

These include inspirational quotes, videos, and books. You are what you feed on. Feed your mind with positive thoughts, stay around positive places and interact with people that make you feel good.

An example is Angela Duckworth’s Grit: The power of passion and perseverance

22. Cultivate cheerfulness

You already know that a place cannot be void, at least not for long. If you remove weeds from your garden and you refuse to plant anything there, that weed will take over again.

As you try to eliminate depression, if you do not replace it with cheerfulness, gratitude, and happiness, you might soon find yourself in depression again. Cheerfulness, happiness and gratitude are attributes that naturally eliminate depression.

Gratitude is needed to keep you motivated to study. So, cultivate such attributes by staying around positive-minded people. Don’t think about your existing problems. Think about the worse problems you do not have.

23. Pomodoro technique

This technique will help you through your studies without overwhelming you. It allows you to have scheduled breaks and tends to help you focus the more on the study.

This is a simple technique:

  • Choose one topic to work on
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes (or x minutes)
  • For 25 minutes give 100% attention to the topic (no cell phones or outside distractions)
  • After the timer goes off, take a 15-minute (or y minutes) break! (you can do as you please for 15 minutes or y minutes)
  • When the 15 minutes (or y minutes) is up, set another 25-minute (or x minutes) timer.
  • Continue until you finish the topic.


Now you know that the depression you are currently feeling is just a state and it is not permanent.  You also know that understanding the cause and tackling it is better than pushing through it. 

Alleviate depression with the tips listed above and your motivation to study will naturally follow. It may seem hard at first but if you persist, you will realize that your sense of motivation is growing gradually.

When you overcome that phase, you automatically have a mastery of strength that allows you not to fall into that trap of depression again. Then you can also help others to overcome such situations.

Good luck as you study more.

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Post Author: Opeyemi Sowade

Sowade Opeyemi is a systematic, cooperative and collaborative thinker, oriented to follow procedures. He is patient and listens to others carefully, genuinely interested in their ideas, opinions and information.

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