Continuing with our theme of what helps keep us physically and mentally healthy during the more challenging winter months we wanted to post some ideas for what helps keep motivation high.

Our “self –talk” – what we are saying to ourselves in our heads – can boost or kill motivation. For example, if I plan to go for a run at lunch time, my thinking can either help me get out the door, or keep me inside. Try “I’m too busy and too tired to run today”, vs. “I really don’t’ feel like doing this but I know I’ll feel good afterwards”.

Useful self-talk or helpful thoughts are the encouraging “you can do this” ones, a bit like having a supportive coach on your shoulder. They cheer you on, help you celebrate your successes, and importantly, help you to bounce back and keep on going when you get stuck.

Optimistic thinking is a style of thinking that is particularly useful for improving motivation. Optimism means remaining hopeful, even when things feel challenging and focusing on small successes. Optimism isn’t blindly thinking positive however, “I can do this, no matter what”. Positive thinking can be hard to believe. Optimism in action is acknowledging that something might be difficult but looking for ways forward.

Going back to the getting out for a run example here’s how optimism might look in action:

View the inaction as:

  • Temporary – I haven’t done very well with getting out so far this week, but I can make some changes and do better today and tomorrow.
  • Specific – my motivation to run is low because I’m busy and it’s cold outside, I can plan my schedule to create some time and wear more layers so I stay warm.
  • External – most people find exercising hard in the winter; it’s not just me!

Experiment with different self-talk to see which styles are most helpful for you. If you get stuck talk with someone you trust to get more ideas.

We are keen to hear your ideas!