How to Deal With Feeling Like You Don't Want to Do Anything

Sometimes we live in times characterized by a mixture of exhaustion and apathy. We feel low energy, discouraged and demotivated. Find out in the following text what this could be due to.
How to Deal With Feeling Like You Don't Want to Do Anything
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 29 May, 2024

When your spirits are low and your body and mind aren’t in harmony, you might not feel like doing anything. Everything weighs you down and exhausts you and every task you have to do feels like climbing a mountain. Although it’s common for these feelings to occur occasionally and you usually recover your motivation, a problem arises when the feelings of discomfort persist.

Factors such as stress can lower your motivation to a minimum. However, there could also be other underlying physical and psychological conditions for feeling like you don’t want to do anything. In fact, depression and unhealed trauma often accompany such behavioral and emotional pictures. Understanding what’s causing you to feel this way will help you recognize what to do about it.

Emotional exhaustion is often more disabling than physical exhaustion.

Feeling like you don’t want to do anything

Everyone, at some point or another, finds themselves feeling like they don’t want to do anything. It’s a frequent complaint and one you’ve no doubt experienced. We’re going to clarify exactly what the experience implies.

Not feeling like doing anything suggests a psychophysical state that goes beyond bodily exhaustion as emotional or mental exhaustion appears. As a rule, these situations resolve themselves after a few days, once you’ve had a break or you’ve solved what was worrying you. However, they can become chronic over time.

When a lack of motivation and feelings of discouragement and fatigue last more than two weeks, they may be symptoms of a health problem or psychological disorder. The following are characteristics that often accompany these sensations:

  • Feelings of hopelessness.
  • Muscle heaviness
  • Irritability and bad mood.
  • Difficulty reflecting.
  • A tendency to procrastinate.
  • No enthusiasm to start the day.
  • Feelings of exhaustion and lack of energy.
  • Lack of initiative and motivation.
  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • The need to sleep more than necessary.
  • A lack of interest in leisure or social activities.
  • Zero performance at work or when studying.
  • Anhedonia or the inability to experience pleasure.

You might also like to read Excessive Tiredness (Hypersomnia)

Why do you feel like you don’t want to do anything?

Feeling like you don’t want to do anything becomes a problem when you have many responsibilities and can’t afford to stop. Work, household chores, family, and the goals you want to achieve in life require movement and action. But, sometimes, your strength and encouragement fail. In these situations, you need to know what lies behind your feelings.

Health problems

Feelings of discouragement, apathy, and tiredness are common in patients suffering from thyroid disorders. An article published in the journal, Frontiers in Physiology states that some women, as a result of adverse experiences, develop alterations in the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis.

When professionals are faced with unmotivated and tired patients they must rule out problems such as these. However, there are certain other factors to consider in the physiological area. For example:

  • Migraines.
  • Fibromyalgia.
  • Hormonal changes.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (ME)
  • A weakened immune system.
  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders.
  • Poor diet and lack of nutrients.

Boredom and routine

At certain times, we all lack hope, motivation, and exciting goals. Routine and boredom corrode the brain. As human beings, we need stimuli in our daily lives to provide us with the impulses to keep moving, planning, and following our dreams and goals. When these fail, feelings of discomfort and discouragement appear.

Chronic stress

Sometimes, you might overlook the effect that unregulated and overwhelming stress has on your physical and mental health. A study published in the journal, Future Science states that the activation of certain neuroendocrine circuits can alter multiple processes, affecting the immune system and cardiovascular health, etc.

As far as possible, you should try to recognize that these states of worry, tension, and anguish only appear occasionally and don’t last too long. Try and use suitable coping strategies.

The weight of unresolved problems

You tend to not feel like doing anything when you have too many problems and don’t know how to deal with them. For example, disagreements in your relationship might be mixed with a lack of work or poor working conditions. Along with this comes frustration, due to your unfulfilled dreams, the lack of time for yourself, and the constant shadow of uncertainty.

In fact, sometimes, life is too complicated and your mind uses the defense mechanism of asking you to stop. Therefore, those feelings of tiredness are just a warning sign that you need time to think and make some decisions.

Exhaustion, a sign of depressive disorders

Tiredness and lack of motivation are two recurring characteristics of depressive disorders. Research published in the journal, Frontiers in Immunology explains that it’s common for depression to occur with an inflammatory activation of the immune system that impacts the central nervous system.

This explains the feeling of heaviness, muscle aches, and exhaustion that won’t go away, even if you’ve slept for ten hours straight. There are also more criteria that’ll tell you if you’re facing a depressive disorder. For example:

  • Feelings of hopelessness.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Negative thoughts.
  • Suicidal or autolytic ideation.
  • Changes in eating patterns.
  • Inability to solve problems.
  • Anhedonia or inability to feel pleasure.

When you don’t feel like doing anything, it’s useful to give yourself a few days of rest and disconnection. Artistic techniques, such as painting or writing are cathartic.

Unresolved trauma

Most of us suffer trauma at some time or another. It might be a loss, an emotional breakdown, an accident, an assault, or witnessing a violent event, to name a few. As a rule, you can overcome these occurrences. You don’t forget them but you learn to live with their memories, without them excessively weighing on you.

But, some people can’t forget, especially if the traumatic experience happened in their childhood. That’s because children have fewer coping resources to hand. It’s important to know that the neurobiological mechanics of trauma are deep and damaging, causing both the mind and body to be affected.

One example is highlighted in a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.  It claims that childhood traumas increase the risk of developing chronic fatigue syndrome.

How to address your lack of energy and motivation

If you’ve been feeling like not wanting to do anything for a long time, the best thing to do is to start with a medical check-up. The first step is to rule out any medical issues. If there are no health-related causes such as a thyroid disorder, you need to implement some changes to recover your energy and well-being.

To initiate such a change, you must start to commit to yourself. You often tend to put others first, but now it’s time to practice self-care. Try the following:

  • Set yourself new goals and purposes.
  • Learn problem-solving techniques.
  • Learn relaxation techniques and deep breathing.
  • Integrate resources to manage stress into your daily routine.
  • Improve your mental focus and rationalize your negative thoughts.
  • Organize your routines so that you have several hours of leisure time.
  • Make small changes in your life. For example, sign up for a course and meet new people.
  • Enjoy art therapy. Painting and writing are wonderful cathartic exercises.
  • Be aware of the activities or people that bring you more stress than well-being.
  • Give yourself some rest and disconnection time. It’s time to listen to yourself, to get to know what you want in your life.
  • Apply behavioral activation. Even if your mind is telling you that you don’t feel like doing anything, get moving and go for a walk. Often, when your body kicks into action, your mind changes.

The best psychological therapies

If your feelings of discouragement and lack of energy don’t disappear, you must request expert help. The following therapeutic models can help:

  • Solution-focused strategic brief therapy will allow you to identify what’s happening to you. You can then enhance your strengths and achieve new goals. It’s a really effective therapy.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy. This is the most widely used approach and the kind supported by the greatest amount of scientific evidence. It’ll help you work through your negative thoughts and limiting beliefs, and integrate healthier behaviors.
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy. This model helps you understand that life isn’t easy, adversity exists, and you must accept it. In turn, it provides tools to clarify your values and empower you to move forward.

Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for professional support if this discouraging and empty feeling is starting to blur who you are. After all, you deserve to enjoy your life and be an active person, capable of fighting for what you want to have in the life you deserve.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.