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Finding New Motivation with Pokemon GO

I have been battling some major motivation issues lately — and losing.

I don’t feel depressed, otherwise. I’m interested in getting out of bed and doing things. I want to. I’m not abnormally sad or empty. Once I can actually get moving, I am usually fine. But getting to that point has been a real struggle, and I’ve let some things (like this blog) fall to the side so that I can get the necessary things done.

Enter Pokemon GO.

I’ve been a Pokemon fan since high school (when the show and games first came to the U.S.). I was more into the TV show and card game at first, but began playing the video games with Generation IV.

I’ve also been playing Ingress for about a year and a half now, the previous game created by Niantic Labs. It dragged me out of my home at a time when I was really struggling.

So I’ve been looking forward to Pokemon GO with excitement since the moment it was announced.

What is it? It’s an “augmented reality game” that you download to a GPS-enabled phone or tablet. As you walk around, you can visit PokeStops, where you collect Pokeballs, Revive potions, and more. During your walks, you’re also likely to run into Pokemon that you can catch, as well as other trainers. You also get eggs that you place in incubators; after walking a certain distance, they hatch. And you can battle at Pokemon Gyms for your team (there are three to choose from).

When I first began struggling with motivation a couple of months ago, I tried to wait it out. I forced myself to get my work done (if I don’t work, I don’t eat) and feed my cats, but otherwise spent a lot of time watching TV or just sitting around doing nothing.

I emailed my therapist after it didn’t blow over after a couple of weeks, and she suggested stuff like listening to music. This helps me slog through the stuff I don’t want to do, but didn’t help with much else. I want to do the things I find fun, but I just don’t do them. Making them more fun has not helped. It’s more like my brain is just too tired.

PokeGO has helped with this a lot. It’s not a game that requires a lot of brain power. You walk around, you catch Pokemon, you maybe battle which really just requires a lot of tapping of your phone. The end. So once I climb the immense hurdle of showering and putting on clothes, going outside isn’t much of a problem.

But here’s the thing: Having a mindless way to blow off energy has helped my motivation¬†in other areas. Pokemon GO doesn’t require deep thinking, but you do go outside into the sunshine and interact with your environment. If you’re in an area with a ton of PokeStops, you’re likely to run into others and chat a bit.

That makes me feel more connected, and sparks some creativity. When I come back from a PokeGO walk, I’m feeling energized and awake, and I want to work on my side projects (or at least dust my apartment).

Since it’s such low-key fun, I can use it as a bribe for getting through the things I don’t want to do, like writing marketing descriptions of shoes or editing real estate articles. Every time I finish a task, I get to take a walk around the block and catch a few things. There’s no set-up or clean-up, like my sewing or coloring hobbies. I just grab my phone, log in, and go outside.

A lot of people have¬†reported that Pokemon GO has been helping them deal with depression, social anxiety, agoraphobia and more. I’m not sure what this motivation issue stems from — my guess is depression, though it’s not symptomatic otherwise — but as of Day 6, it’s helping immensely.

Will it last? I don’t know. But in the meantime, I’m going to try and catch ’em all.


Photo by Kasadera

Finding New Motivation with Pokemon GO

Kyla Cathey

Kyla Cathey is a freelance writer from Galt, California who has been overcoming OCD for the past year, after struggling with it for much of her life.

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APA Reference
Cathey, K. (2016). Finding New Motivation with Pokemon GO. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 21, 2019, from


Last updated: 12 Jul 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Jul 2016
Published on All rights reserved.