Most people will have a time in their lives, however brief or lingering it is, when even getting out of bed in the morning seems pointless.
That feeling of not wanting to do anything at all might be a result of mild depression, it might be because you’re emotionally drained or stressed, or simply that you have a to-do list as long as your arm that never seems to get any shorter and you just can’t take it anymore.
It might be that you feel like you have no options and are stuck in a rut, or it might be that you have so many options and courses of action open to you that you’d rather just keep your head firmly under your pillow, because it’s much easier there, thank you very much.
Whatever the reason that everything suddenly seems like far too much effort, it can be hard to haul yourself out of it.
The answer? Little by little. Step by step. It’s the small things and tiny achievements you make that will help get you moving, however slowly. Here a few incredibly simple ways of starting the ball rolling.
1. Have A Shower
Cleanliness is often one of the first things to go when you’re in this kind of mood. The truth is, though, that you’re never going to feel good about yourself if you’re not clean. Cleanliness is next to godliness, and all that. Get a great shower playlist going, lather up, and sing a few favorites at the top of your lungs.
Whether they’re slow, moody ballads or upbeat Latino numbers (careful about trying to salsa in the shower – dangerous territory), it’s hard to feel down when the water’s hot and the music’s good. I personally recommend a bit of George Michael’s ‘Faith,’ which has gotten me through many a tough time.
2. Get Dressed
Again, pyjamas are wonderful and comforting, but if you’re looking to get out of your rut, they need to go firmly in the wash basket and you need to get some proper clothes on.
Clothes for moods like this should be comfy but flattering, and preferably even a bit crazy, or with happy memories associated with them. Brush your hair. Girls, throw on a bit of makeup if that’s your thing. If not, more power to you.
3. Go Food Shopping
As Helen Keller once said, “Happiness rarely keeps company with an empty stomach.” I don’t think anyone will disagree with that. A well-stocked fridge is the solution to all manner of problems.
Treat yourself to a couple of things you shouldn’t really be eating if you must, but major on the fruit and vegetables too. Sugar crashes are not your friends right now, and you need your vitamins to get yourself back to firing on all cylinders.
I know, takeaways seem far more appealing right now, and they definitely have their place, but consuming them night after night isn’t good for your health or your bank balance. Go down a bit of an Instagram hole and find a few wonderfully healthy but also delicious looking recipes to try out.
Don’t go for anything too convoluted, as it’ll only put you off. Preparing a full meal with your own fair hands will give you a sense of achievement. Even if you achieve nothing else that day, you’ve nourished yourself, and anyone else you have to/want to cook for. That’s a step in the right direction in anyone’s book.
5. Make A List
The humble to-do list is a powerful tool. I’m not talking about making a list of all your long-term, mega, overwhelming goals. They’re probably part of the problem, and can be reserved for another time. A slightly more modest list of small things you can achieve today and then cross off is a great way of feeling like you’ve got somewhere.
A pen and paper are far better for this than any fancy digital tool, as there’s nothing more satisfying than physically crossing something out.
Put absolutely everything you can think off on the list. Throw your shower, food shop, cooking, washing the dishes, and washing your clothes on there, along with that email you’ve been meaning to send, that bill you’ve been meaning to pay…
Make them all extremely simple, single actions that can be done and crossed off.
Another wonderful one for bulking out the to-do list. There’s a lot of truth in that saying ‘tidy house, tidy mind.’ How are you supposed to clear out your muddled brain if the physical space you’re in is just as chaotic?
Put some good music or one of your favorite podcasts on and get everything back in its place. If it doesn’t have a place, find it one. Dust and hoover.
Better yet, throw things away. I refuse to live my entire life by Marie Kondo’s slightly overzealous approach to decluttering. She says that if it doesn’t bring you joy, you should throw it away, but socks don’t bring me joy and I need them (unfortunately, I’d rather be living on a desert island wearing nothing but flip-flops, but you can’t have everything).
However, she’s got a real point about how getting rid of physical stuff can take a real metaphorical weight off your shoulders. Try going through your clothes and throwing out anything you no longer want/need/fit into. Do the same with your shoes, books, cuddly toys, stamp collection…
Take it all to the charity shop, and you’ll be doing good for others as well as yourself.
7. Stretch Your Legs
It’s a bit of a cliché, I know, but that’s because getting out for a walk really does work. I don’t know the science behind why a bit of fresh air is so revitalizing, but I’m willing to bet it’s because we humans didn’t evolve to be locked up inside an office cubicle or dingy flat all day.
Whether it’s 5 minutes around the block or rambling for hours on end, it’ll help.
8. Get Your Heart Pumping
If you’re up for it, then some slightly more rigorous exercise is definitely a good idea. We all know by now that exercise releases endorphins in your brain, which make you feel great. Think of it as a happy pill without the side effects.
Hit the gym, go for a run, go cycling, or go along to that exercise class you’ve been wanting to start. If the idea of doing exercise, especially in the company of other human beings, doesn’t seem all that appealing, don’t focus on it.
Focus on getting your ‘activewear’ on and lacing up your trainers. You don’t want to be one of those people that goes around dressed like they’re off to the gym and never goes, so once you’ve got the gear on you’ll probably be shamed into it.
9. Go See Nature
Are you a city dweller? A dose of nature might be just what the doctor ordered. Your local park will do for now, but try and get into the countryside-proper ASAP.
There’s nothing like the mental space you can get when you’re miles from anywhere with only nature for company. Of course, you can take friends along too!
Being in the mountains or looking out to the vastness of the ocean is a great way of getting a bit of perspective back.
10. Ring A Friend
A lot of the above have been solitary activities, although you can always rope a friend in to keep you company (except perhaps in the shower and getting dressed, unless they’re a really good friend).
You might feel like spending time alone at the moment and that’s fine, but don’t isolate yourself completely. Spend your social time with the people that really matter, that you genuinely care about and can be yourself around.
Talk through what’s bothering you, but don’t dwell or moan, and then move on and let them take your mind off things.
Doing all or some of these things is a wonderful way to get a bit of momentum going. Once you’re clean, well-dressed, exercised and in a tidy space, the way is clear for you to start taking steps forward.
Of course, if you just can’t shake the feeling, then you should consider visiting a healthcare professional, as you should never take your mental health lightly.
Katie splits her time between writing and translation. She writes about travel and self-care and never stays in one place for too long. She’s currently based in beautiful Cornwall, England, after long stints in Brazil and Mexico. She spends her free time trail running, exploring and devouring vegan food.