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Manchester Mind: what to do when you can’t be bothered to do anything

When we are struggling with our mental health it can be difficult to find the motivation to do just about anything – even the things we typically enjoy doing. During the COVID-19 crisis, more people are enduring loneliness and isolation, and – whilst we’re preparing to transition out of lockdown – it is natural to feel anxiety about what were once ‘normal’ experiences.

Before we break the negative cycle, we need to understand what this looks like. Initially, the symptoms of low mood, weariness, feeling fed up, disrupted sleep and just a general feeling of ‘I can’t be bothered’ are overwhelming. This makes it a struggle to get on with everyday tasks, and even makes you not enjoy the good stuff as much.

Because things feel so difficult to do, we simply stop doing them. We also tend to only do the things we absolutely have to, meaning that our time for self-care and joy is significantly reduced. This causes us to feel unaccomplished, isolated, and like nothing is enjoyable anymore, thus worsening the symptoms you initially had even more.

This cycle must be broken…

Make a list of things you have stopped doing. These can be things you enjoy, practical tasks or time spent connecting with other people in your life. Spend each day going forward making sure you do at least one of these tasks, and slowly build them up to a day you feel comfortable with.

  • When you’ve figured out what feels good out of these things, try to do those things more. There is plenty of time to start back on your tasks, but you need a little bit of feel-good right now. The better you feel, the more inclined you’ll be to get on with the practical stuff.
  • Now you’re feeling a little better, make yourself a timetable. This may look like your old routine, or maybe you’d like to construct something a little different. Schedule in time for self-care, chores, meals and exercise, but make sure to leave time each day for the unexpected things that naturally pop up in life.
  • Know that some activities are naturally harder to do, and are stressful to all of us. If you find yourself ignoring important things such as paying a bill or washing the pots, push yourself to do it as soon as you remember. You’ll feel accomplished for getting over this hurdle and relieved it is over with!

When you’re going through a rough patch, it’s easy for your routine to go out of the window. During this time we naturally feel the urge to retreat; to do less and sleep more. Find some top tips below to help get the engine running again.

They say variety is the spice of life, and each day you should aim for a mixture of these four areas:

  • Achievement – things that you can do to make you feel accomplished. This may include things like going for a run, hoovering the carpet or washing your hair.
  • Pleasure – things that contribute to your happiness. This might include reading a chapter of a new book, a stroll in the park, treating yourself to a portion of food you like.
  • Connecting – taking time to connect with others. This can be people you already know and like, or meeting new people if that’s something you enjoy.
  • Essentials – completing important tasks that can hang over your head, such as paying a bill, calling the doctor or changing a lightbulb.

Each of these tasks will contribute to building back your routine and feeling more like yourself again. Make sure to keep in mind that there will always be setbacks – these are natural. What is most important is that you keep trying. The more you practice these tasks, the more they will feel like second nature and ultimately improve your wellbeing over time.

Check out our blog for more mental health advice, for example, this post on mental wellbeing. Also, check out some tips here on how to help a friend who might be struggling with their mental health.

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