By Mary Ellen Copeland

Recovery from severe and persistent psychiatric symptoms is a daunting task. You may often feel like giving up, like it's not worth the trouble. All of us feel like that from time to time. It is important to remember that this is absolutely normal. What can you do to motivate yourself when you feel this way?

Remind yourself that it is normal to feel unmotivated from time to time -especially when you are working on something that is very hard, when progress may be slow and when you feel that you often have setbacks.

Remember that people who experience psychiatric symptoms take back control of their lives and go on to do the things they want to do and be the kind of person they want to be. It may help to think about people you know or have heard of, even famous people, who have overcome difficult symptoms and gone on to live healthy lives.

Take small steps. Big change doesn't happen overnight. If you have trouble looking people in the eye, and today you looked one person in the eye, that's great. Maybe you feel anxious when you ride the bus and today you rode the bus for two blocks. That is a major achievement.

Spend some time writing your goals. What do you want out of life? How can you best achieve that? Develop a time line for meeting both your short and long term goals. Make sure they are your goals and not goals that someone else has developed for you. Share your goals with your close supporters. Ask them to encourage you as you work to meet these goals.

Give yourself a reward for each accomplishment, even the smallest things. Some examples of simple rewards are: a pat on the back, half an hour reading a good book, taking a short rest, calling for a chat with a good friend, or renting a video for yourself.

Spend some time each day doing things that are easy for you to do, as much as you need to. Don't spend all your time trying to do the hard stuff. Clean out one drawer. Wash the kitchen sink. Take the dog for a walk. Sew on a button. Write one letter or answer one e-mail.

Do things that make you feel good about yourself. Take good care of your personal hygiene. Do something you really enjoy. Do something special for someone else. Tell someone else they are doing a good job. Tell your supporters how much you appreciate their help.

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