When you don’t feel like doing anything, often you really don’t want to do anything.
Nothing sounds good to you, and even well-intentioned suggestions from loved ones might make you a little cranky.
Often, these feelings are normal and temporary, triggered by stress or a busier-than-usual lifestyle.
A more long-lasting loss of interest (apathy) or experiencing less pleasure in the things you usually enjoy (anhedonia), however, may suggest there’s something a little more serious going on.
1. Roll with it
Sometimes, not wanting to do anything is your mind and body’s way of asking for a break.
If you’ve been pushing yourself to your limit recently, heed this call before you reach the point of burnout.
Self-compassion is key in this situation. Acknowledge your hard work, and then give yourself permission to take some downtime. Take a nap, scroll through your favorite social media app, or curl up with your favorite blanket and a pet — whatever feels easy and relaxing.
2. Get outside
Getting some light physical activity outside — even if it’s just a 10-minute walk around the block — can help to reset your mood.
Even if you just sit on a bench, simply spending time in nature can have benefits.
Changing your environment might also help motivate you to do something else, like head over to your favorite coffee shop. Even if it doesn’t, spending some time outside might help you feel better about spending the rest of the day on the couch.
3. Sort through your emotions
Exploring your emotional state may shed some light on why you don’t want to do anything. This can be particularly helpful if you haven’t felt like doing much for more than a few days.
Ask yourself if you’re feeling:
- anxious, worried, or nervous about something
- angry or frustrated
- sad or lonely
- detached or disconnected from yourself
Any of the above emotions can occupy your thoughts and make it hard to think about doing anything else.
Try some light journaling about how you’re feeling, even if what comes out doesn’t make a ton of sense.
If you feel up for it, try following up by connecting some of these emotions to specific causes. Are changes at work making you feel anxious? Is scrolling through your favorite news app making you feel hopeless about the future?
Figuring out what’s behind these emotions can help you to either come up with potential solutions or accept that certain things are beyond your control.
Of course, meditation is doing something. But try to think of it in terms of doing nothing in a mindful, purposeful way.
It’s not always easy, especially at first. It can put you more in touch with all of your emotions, even the distressing ones. But it helps you become better able to notice them and accept them without judging yourself or letting them pull you down.
Ready to give it a try?
5. Reach out to a friend
When you don’t want to do anything, talking to a friend can sometimes help. Just keep in mind that different friends might try to help in different ways, so reach out to the right friend for your situation.
Here are a couple of pointers:
- If you want suggestions on what to do, a friend who always has lots of advice might help most.
- If you just want someone to vent to, or perhaps do nothing with, reach out to someone who’s great at empathic listening.
Or, simply be upfront with a friend about what you need — whether it’s actionable advice or an open ear.