Featured Image: Finding Motivation To Get Outside With Low Mood And Depression: Inspiring Women, A Podcast and A Bucket List

Finding Motivation With Low Mood Or Depression

It’s Hard To Get Outside When You Have Low Mood Or Depression

Low mood or depression affects everyone in different ways, but, sadly, it can be a serious barrier to enjoying the great outdoors for many of us.

It’s no easy task to find ways to activate your motivation with low mood or depression, so what can be done about it? A good start is to acknowledge the serious effort it takes to put your hiking boots on, let alone get out of the door. The voice in your head says ‘what’s the point, it’s too much effort’, but if there’s no point in anything you might as well go for a walk! And if you suffer from mild to moderate depression it’s possible it will help speed your recovery.

Me And My Low Mood

I’m going through a period of persistent low mood and I’m doing all I can to fend it off, because I don’t want to slide into another bout of chronic depression. (Clinical or ‘chronic’ depression is periods of serious depression over long periods of time.) And, I thought it might be helpful to share a couple of inspiring things that motivate me to get outside, when it’s the last thing I want to do.

There’s Something Here For You, Even If You DON’T Suffer From Low Mood or Depression

For whatever reason you’re seeking motivation:

You'll find links to some positive, inspirational women in this article that I hope will motivate you to chase your dreams, get outside and get hiking.

What follows is a personal story. It’s about trying to counteract my internal negative thoughts by surrounding myself with external positive inspiration. And there’s one source of inspiration I find particularly helpful at the moment: The Tough Girl Podcast (and a bucket list!).

Tough Girl Podcast, Tough Girl Challenges

Getting Outside When You Feel Low Or Depressed

Surround Yourself With External Positive Inspiration

My Nocturnal Thoughts

This is where I’m at. It’s 3:25 am, I can’t sleep and I’m ruminating about my life. I’m getting old. It was my birthday recently and I was 55. Which is Scary Shit. I’ve never felt so anxious about a birthday before. I know I’m not your average 55 year old in terms of physical health and fitness, I don’t even look my age. Apparently. (No grey hairs yet, thanks to the fabulous ginger gene.) But it’s weird when you begin to notice your face is lined and you’re not even smiling.

I worry about acknowledging how old I am, because I think people won't want to talk to me any more

I identify with active women in their mid thirties and forties and I think they’ll think I’m about to hang up my hiking gear, when all I want to do is ramp it up. My life isn’t finished yet: my life has barely started. I lost at least 10 consecutive years to depression (and plenty more before that) and I want those years back. But there’s no time to wait, so I tell myself in the dead of night.

Life In Treacle

There are always barriers and set-backs to over come in life that result in a lack of motivation, whatever the reason.

But I feel like I’ve been wading through treacle for weeks. My mood has inexplicably dropped to my boots, and so have my energy levels and motivation. I can’t think clearly. I can’t remember anything. I’m clumsy. And everything feels a hundred times more difficult than it did a few week’s ago (including writing coherent blog posts!). Clinical depression sucks, but I know the symptoms well, even the early ones now, and I’m resisting them with everything I’ve got, but I worry I don’t have enough.

Finding motivation with low mood and depression - get out on the coast path

Getting outside is essential

It’s at times like this I know I need to get outside and walk, even if it’s just half an hour beside the river. But, as anyone who’s had depression knows

a half hour walk is like climbing a mountain without eating for days

It’s so hard that it’s easy to give in to it. However, I’ve discovered that to find motivation with low mood or depression you have to stick to (or start) regular routines and set realistic, achievable goals (both of which I find incredibly difficult). This can be disheartening when you’re ambitious, but remember that lowering the bar for a while isn’t a failure: it’s often the only positive way forward.

So, before I nosedive into the depths of despair (again) I’m looking for anything positive, anything motivating. Anything I can grasp hold of. And recently it was my favourite podcast: the Tough Girl Challenges Podcast with Sarah Williams that got me motivated to do something positive…

My Motivation: Tough Girl Challenges With Sarah Williams

Tough Girl Podcast, Tough Girl Challenges

Click the image to head to the podcast library.

I dipped into the Tough Girl Challenges archive and came across Sarah’s interview with Paula Reid. I’d never heard of her before, but that’s the absolute beauty of the women Sarah interviews. Many of them are ordinary women, from 20 year olds to octogenarians, doing extraordinary things. They’re not (all) Olympians with masses of talent and teams of people to help nurture it. They’re women like you and me. Women with dreams and aspirations that they chase without fanfare, because it adds meaning to their lives. Paula Read is a case in point.

She’s done crazy things, from sailing around the world to worm charming, because it sounded like fun!

My Inspiration: Paula Reid

Live Life To The Full

Image link to Tough Girl Podcast with Paula Reid (portrait of Paula Reid speaking)

Click on the image to go to Sarah’s interview with Paula Reid on the Tough Girl Podcast

Paula’s mantra is ‘live life to the full’ which is reflected in the adventures she has. The things Paula does aren’t all things that appeal to me and ordinarily I wouldn’t be that interested in a boat race that entailed months at sea (I can’t think of anything worse than being in a confined space with the same people day in day out!).

But there are some women, like Paula,who describe the personal journey with such insight and frankness it’s hard to resist. And Sarah is so adept, enthusiastic and engaging in the way she encourages her interviewees to explore more than just their journeys, like how they overcome the lows to keep going and how much it all costs (£50,000 for a round the world boat race…self funded!).

Live Life To The Full With A Bucket List

In my quest to surround myself with positive attitudes and motivation I hang on to words that Paula frequently used in her Tough Girl interview. Words like ‘focus‘, phrases like ‘live life to the full‘. I listen carefully to how she overcame ‘post adventure depression’ and how she makes things happen. How she relishes challenges that take her out of her comfort zone, or does things simply for the fun of it. How she’s mindful of the moment and not simply rushing from one thing to the next.

But there’s one thing that Paula does that really piqued my interest, something I can see could help anyone suffering lack of motivation with low mood or depression. Paula’s published a bucket list on her website, as well as a list of her many bucket-list achievements. It’s not something I’ve considered, as I’ve a tendency to keep those things in my head. Or I use diaries and notebooks that I mislay and forget about. But in my current state of mind, it feels like a very positive thing to do.

Depression can wipe out all memory of the things you've achieved, or minimise and negate their value. So, inspired by Paula Reid, I'm going to make a list of the positive things I've done, achievements that remind me life has meaning.

Before I forget. And I’m going to write a bucket list too, because there’s so much I want to do and experience, and I don’t want to forget that either.

The most positive thing though, the thing that really excites me, is to share those lists.

Here’s Why I’m Writing (And Publishing) My Bucket List:

  • hold myself to account
  • have a list I can’t actually lose
  • see things move from the bucket-list to the ‘I did that’ list
  • help me focus
  • motivate me
  • inspire others

And, importantly to

Live Life To The Full

The plan is to publish my lists next week, and keep on walking (and trying to run/jog or ride my bike) I reckon it doesn’t matter how far, how long or how familiar a route is, it’s getting outside and putting one foot in front of the other that matters. And I’m going to plod along listening to The Tough Girl Podcast, because I can’t think of a better way to find my motivation with low mood and depression sitting on my shoulder.

Links To The Tough Girl Podcast, Sarah Williams and Paula Reid

Check out these links for inspiration and motivation (links open in new tabs):


How Do You Find Your Motivation With Low Mood Or Depression?

Please feel free to share what helps you to get outside when it’s the last thing you feel like doing. I’d love to know how you keep motivated through difficult times, what you did (or do) that worked for you – you never know it might help someone else too! Just leave a comment below and let’s get a conversation started.

Join me next week to see what’s on my bucket list. In the mean time why not find out more about some of the things I’ve done, what motivates me and what I hope we can achieve with 10 Mile Hike, because I’d love to have you along for the hike! Until next time.

Happy Hiking


  • onthehills
    Posted at 14:54h, 24 August Reply

    That is a very poignant and thought provoking blog Stephie. As a sufferer of PTSD following a 30 year career as an military avaiator through 5 conflicts I can associate with the feeling of not wanting to go out through the door in the morning. There are days when I just feel like turning the alarm off and staying in bed rather than getting dressed and going out for a walk. I will use every excuse I can think of to not go out walking. Somedays my mind wins but more and more I am taking a greater control of my actions.

    It is interesting that you make reference to the fact that you associate ‘with active women in their mid thirties and forties’. When I was selected to be an Ordnance Survey Champion I had just turn 60 and at our first gathering I had a major imposter issue because everyone else there was doing loads of amazing things that I could not do. This held me back for a while until I developed a realistic mindset.

    I realised that everything the rest of the champions were doing, I had already done when I was their age. I had walked and climbed all over the world. I had descended some of the deepest cave systems known at that time. I had sailed, cycled, ran, abseilled etc. I realised I didnt have anything to prove. With this release of self induced ‘peer pressure’, getting out on my adventures in my 60’s was so much easier.

    What I am trying to say Stephie, is dont compare yourself to the younger woman. Yes you are fitter and healthier than most 55 year old, but do not put yourself under extra pressure in trying to ‘claw back’ the lost years. Don’t look back, look forward to what you can achieve – which from what I can see is most anything!

    Release those extra burdens and it will be easier to open the door and walk out.

    Beleive in yourself Glyn xx

    • Stephie
      Posted at 12:22h, 30 August Reply

      Thanks Glyn, that was really thoughtful and very kind. You’ve achieved a great deal and are so encouraging of others, inspiring for anyone wanting to get out there, over 60 or not! And definitely leading by example.

      My reason for ‘looking back’ is that I feel I haven’t done all the things I wanted to do due to illness and I want to do them now, because it makes life meaningful.

      I certainly haven’t walked all over the world like you, been caving, sailing, etc… and I’ve always wanted to walk in Peru and the rest of South America, Nepal, Sweden, USA… I want to walk all our long distance trails as a way of experiencing different parts of our own country, I’d like to walk in Scotland, Wales…

      The biggest barrier I have is a financial one, because I was so ill I couldn’t work for 10 years. I can’t sell my house and go to New Zealand or wherever, like some have, because I don’t have the luxury of my own home – I don’t even own a car! This sounds like an excuse not to do things, but I do what I can within the means I have, but my feet are itching like crazy!!! I wonder if ruminating on things like this is fuelling my low mood at the moment, who knows.

      However, I’m incredibly fortunate to live where I do, because I have such fantastic walking right on my doorstep and I’m fit and well enough to enjoy it. I never forget that. And, I’m really looking forward to finishing off The South West Coast Path in the next week or two – and planning my next long distance trail! xx

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