What to Do When You Don't Feel Like Doing Anything

We've all gone through a moment where we just don't feel like doing anything, even the smallest effort seems out of reach. What happens when this extends over time, though? Keep reading to learn more!
What to Do When You Don't Feel Like Doing Anything
Isbelia Esther Farías López

Written and verified by the philosopher Isbelia Esther Farías López.

Last update: 26 May, 2022

“I don’t want to do anything.” This is something almost everyone – if not everyone – has said at some point. That’s why, in this article, we’ve decided to reflect on this particular issue: what to do when you don’t feel like doing anything.

First off, we must mention that having this feeling from time to time is more than okay. You have the right to feel tired, fatigued, with no energy or motivation. We’ve all been through this.

Perhaps you’ve been really busy and subjected to a lot of stress. It’s more than expected that you don’t feel like doing anything. It comes to the point where you look around and nothing seems appealing; you don’t want to clean the house, you don’t want to eat nor do an activity you consider fun.

It’s worth looking at the context in these situations. In fact, a piece of research published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry in 2018 suggests that being under strong stress can be the trigger for fatigue and the prelude to other diseases.

If this is your case, you may just need to rest a little, disconnect from everything, and recharge. Up next, we’ll be detailing what you can do in a moment like this.

What to do when you don’t feel like doing anything

What happens when this isn’t just due to fatigue?

There are much more severe cases worth paying attention to.

If you find yourself just wanting to stay in bed, with no interest in absolutely anything, and your only desire is being isolated from everyone and everything that surrounds you, there may be a much more serious problem. In fact, this state of apathy may be difficult to overcome.

If besides not wanting to do anything you feel angsty or like you want to cry and, on top of that, have anguish, lack of appetite, guilt, sadness, among others, then your best bet would be to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist about your mental state.

Read also: How to avoid feeling guilty for everything

Symptoms of possible apathy if you don’t feel like doing anything

According to a group of Japanese researchers, apathy is mainly characterized by a lack of motivation that isn’t caused by emotional distress, intellectual disability, or decreased consciousness.

Other symptoms of apathy could be:

  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle
  • Disinterest in interacting with others
  • Desire to remain isolated
  • Little time investment in personal projects
  • Abandonment of goals
  • Feeling that life’s just passing by
  • Constantly feeling disappointed
  • Not feeling like doing anything besides sleeping

These symptoms could be part of a problem that goes way beyond apathy. For that reason, it’s advisable to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist.

A woman feeling sad.

What can you do in this case?

There are some things you can do if you’re not feeling motivated. Let’s see.

  • Try your best to motivate yourself. Motivation might not come to you right away, but if you set yourself a few small tasks, you may feel better. Imagine how good you’d feel by going for a walk in the park, for example.
  • Break the cycle of negativity. Another reason why you don’t feel like doing anything is that you’re unconsciously drowning in a sea of negativity.  Try to break that cycle, change your routine and set yourself a goal that makes you feel hopeful.
  • Do physical exercise. This may not make sense to you, but once you start exercising your body, your mood will change for the better right away.
  • Do things you like. Perhaps you’ve been doing boring things and that’s led you to feel like this. It’s never too late to start a new hobby or retake an old one. This could for sure help you regain your spirit.

Other things you can do:

  • Take a little trip. By doing this, you could disconnect from everyday life and routine. A few days away may be the solution you need.
  • Challenge yourself. Convince yourself to go out and meet new people, attend more cultural events, or live an experience that you’ve never done before.
  • Put a date on the calendar. In this way, you’ll feel more committed to going through your goals.
  • Avoid isolating yourself. Keeping yourself away from everyone will only make your toxic thoughts and pessimism take over you. Enjoy quality time with the people you love.
  • Happiness depends on you. Remember that your happiness isn’t up to anyone else but you. Happiness is within you.
Going on a trip may be a good solution when you don't feel like doing anything. In this photo, a woman feeling happy while on a road trip with friends.


Read also: You deserve to be happy

Seek help if you need it when you don’t feel like doing anything

If you’ve already tried everything on your own, and you feel that you still can’t leave that state of disinterest or apathy, you must seek professional help.

Don’t wait for this feeling to just go away by itself or let it take over. This apathy you’re feeling may be a sign of something much more complicated, such as major depressive disorder. You may also be suffering from anhedonia, which refers to the inability to feel joy or pleasure in things.

The important thing here is to worry less and do more. If you find that you don’t feel like doing anything most of the time, no matter what day it is, take control of the situation and turn to a professional.

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.

  • Casas Rivero, J. (2009). Síndrome de fatiga crónica. Pediatria Integral. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1138-3593(09)72676-0
  • Chóliz, M. (2004). Psicología de la Motivación. In 112.
  • Ramirez Tovar, M. C. (2008). Fatiga : Metal Actual.
  • Reeve, john M. (2009). Motivación y Emoción. In Uma ética para quantos? https://doi.org/10.1007/s13398-014-0173-7.2
  • Seguel, F., & Valenzuela, S. (2014). Relación entre la fatiga laboral y el síndrome burnout en personal de enfermería de centros hospitalarios. Enfermería Universitaria. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1665-7063(14)70923-6
  • Fatigue: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (2020). Retrieved 18 July 2020, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003088.htm
  • Ishizaki, J., & Mimura, M. (2011). Dysthymia and apathy: diagnosis and treatment. Depression research and treatment, 2011.
  • Pedraz-Petrozzi, B. (2018). Fatiga: historia, neuroanatomía y caracteristicas psicopatológicas. Una revisión de la Literatura. Revista de Neuro-Psiquiatría, 81(3), 174-182.

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