What to do when you don’t want to do anything

Here, we explore potential reasons for why you feel as though you don’t want to do anything and offer tips on how to get motivated again.

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Everyone can feel unmotivated from time-to-time. Every now and then, you may find that you feel tired, apathetic, irritable or uninterested in doing things you usually enjoy. If these feelings persist, this might indicate that you need some mental health support.

Here, we explore the potential reasons for your lack of motivation, and offer advice on the things you can do to help yourself feel better and more energised.

Why don’t I want to do anything?

For most people, feeling as though you don’t want to do anything is only temporary. You might go through periods where you don’t feel like leaving the house or aren’t interested in socialising with other people, or perhaps you're not experiencing pleasure for hobbies and activities you once had. These feelings can be brought on by stress or other events going on in your life, such as bereavement or divorce.

However, if the feeling of not wanting to do anything is becoming persistent, this might suggest that you need some extra help. A lack of motivation over a prolonged period of time might indicate that you’re struggling with an underlying mental health condition. For example, there is a clear link between depression and motivation, and not wanting to do anything can also be a symptom of conditions like anxiety, bipolar disorder and phobias.

What should I do if I don’t want to do anything?

If this sounds familiar, there are a number of things you can do that might help you to feel more motivated and positive.

Take a break

If you’re feeling as though you don’t want to do anything, this could be a sign that you’re burned out and actually just need to take a step back from everything and take a break. Plan in some time for yourself to relax. Take a hot bath, read your favourite book, or just relax on the sofa with a blanket and your favourite TV programme. Sometimes you need a bit of time to reset in order to get your motivation levels back.

Be kind to yourself

If you’re struggling with your motivation, you might find that you’re blaming yourself for this and engaging in negative self-talk. However, it’s so important that you’re kind to yourself. Accept what you’re going through instead of thinking of yourself as a failure. A bit of self-compassion and allowing yourself the space and time you need can go a long way towards helping you feel better.

Look after yourself physically

It might feel hard to look after yourself when you don’t feel like doing anything. However, it’s really important to make sure you’re at least doing some of the basic things to stay healthy. Self-care and mental health are inextricably linked, so make sure you eat well, drink plenty of water and try to get enough sleep at night. Looking after yourself physically can help you to feel better mentally.

Start slowly

Starting slowly and achieving things gradually can help you to regain your motivation. Set yourself small daily tasks to accomplish and then tick them off your list as you do. These could be little things like making your bed, having a shower or folding your washing. These small wins can help to boost your confidence and motivate you to achieve more and more as time goes on.

Plan something

Even if you’re not in the right frame of mind at the moment, planning something for the future can give you something to aim for and look forward to. This doesn’t have to be anything big. You could plan to go out for lunch with a friend or a walk in the park. Visualising and anticipating this can help to increase your motivation levels.

Talk to someone about how you’re feeling

When you don’t feel like doing anything, it can be tempting to just want to withdraw and hide yourself away from the world and other people. However, speaking to a trusted friend or family member about how you’re feeling can really help.

They’ll be able to listen to you and offer words of advice, encouragement or comfort when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Having someone to talk to can help you feel less alone and they’ll be able to support you to gradually get your motivation back.

Things you can do when you don’t want to do anything

If your lack of motivation is becoming persistent and is affecting your quality of life, this might be a sign that you need mental health treatment. In addition, if you find that your feelings of lethargy are accompanied by other symptoms such as:

  • sleep problems
  • anger and irritability
  • appetite changes
  • feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
  • persistent low mood
  • feelings of worry and dread

It’s definitely a good idea to reach out for some professional support. A first port of call may be to speak to your GP about how you’re feeling. They’ll be able to assess your symptoms and advise whether they think you’re struggling with a mental health problem.

Or you may wish to get in touch with a private provider, like Priory, directly. Our expert team will be able to support you every step of the way towards overcoming your difficulties, regaining your motivation and getting back on track again.

What to do with someone who doesn’t want to do anything

If you’re worried that a loved one is lacking in motivation and doesn’t seem to want to do anything, there are things you can do to help. Try and encourage them to follow the steps above and let them know that you’ll be there for them if they’re ever struggling. By helping them to do these small things and letting them know they’re not alone, you can help them to change their mind set and increase their motivation.

Remember, a lack of motivation from time-to-time can be entirely normal. However, if this is how you’re feeling over a prolonged period of time, it may be time to seek mental health treatment. Contact Priory today to find out how we can support you with your mental health, and help you return to the fulfilling and healthy life you deserve.

Page clinically reviewed by Zhila Alfrouz (BA, MA, BACP), CBT Therapist/Counsellor at Priory Wellbeing Centre Manchester.

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