What to do when you feel like you can’t do anything

Intense levels of anxiety, depression, grief, guilt, and trauma are debilitating. When you find yourself within their grips, it can be truly difficult to even leave your bedroom. How can you possibly recover when you can hardly even get up or get yourself in the bath?

The idea of recovery can feel overwhelming; a vague and intangible concept. When your mental health is suffering, the road to feeling good again will likely seem impossibly long and arduous, leaving you at a loss for where to even begin.

It can be very helpful to occasionally allow yourself to shift your focus away from the big picture, and onto tiny, manageable tasks that you can do right now; no matter how terrible you are feeling.

Even if you can’t get through the day (or hour) without crying, panicking, or feeling completely hopeless; you can take the very first steps towards the life you are hoping to build or reclaim. You may find that those small steps grow into leaps and bounds more quickly than you would expect.

1. Clean up one corner of your room

Our habitat tends to suffer when our minds are not feeling well. You may find yourself dwelling in piles of clothes and papers and staring at a growing stack of dirty dishes, and not because you are being lazy. Mental illness can take a massive toll on energy and motivation, making what you would typically consider a simple activity overwhelming or impossible.

Therefore, it can be beneficial to take a task and divide into as many pieces as you need. Instead of feeling like you must clean the entire house, try picking one corner of your bedroom. This could be a bookshelf, your nightstand, desk, or even just a chair that has been collecting dirty laundry. Let yourself take as much time as you need to completely clean and reorganize it. When you are done take a seat and admire your work. It is surprising how much pleasure and relief can result from such a small-scale foray into refreshing your surroundings.

2. Brush your teeth.

When feeling mentally unwell, it is easy to let your hygiene practices fall to the wayside. Intense depression can obliterate self-esteem, energy, and desire to engage in… pretty much any activity. This can lead to increasing levels of isolation; and if you are alone anyway, why bother? The fact is that 2 minutes of vigorous tooth-brushing can re-frame the way you see the entire day.

This tiny act of self-love can serve as a reminder of the control that you do still have over your own life, even if it feels stunted at the moment. It can illuminate how even the smallest actions can improve your opinion of yourself, and perhaps motivate you to move onto bigger and bolder actions in support of your own recovery.

3. Google an article on something that you think is interesting, and read part of it

A very common symptom of a variety of mental illnesses is loss of interest in hobbies that you once enjoyed. While you may not be very likely to play a game of basketball, go on a hike, or finish a giant novel when you are feeling extremely down, it does not mean that you cannot still be intrigued or inspired.

Try thinking of something about which you have always been curious, ideally something that you do not know much about, and see what information you can quickly find on it. Allow yourself to vigorously engage in the process of absorbing the information.

If you are living in a world that is majorly dominated by managing your (or other’s) mental health concerns, moments of distraction can be a lifeline. Not only do you not have to spend every waking minute discerning your thoughts and emotions, it is actually not healthy or beneficial to do so. Unleash your potentially neglected sense of wonder and take a tiny hiatus from constant worry.

4. Lay flat on the ground and stretch as far as you can in each direction

When you are stuck in your head, you are less likely to listen to your body. Stress can build up and live in your muscles, creating tension and pain. If you find that you and your body have not communicated in some time, try finding as large and open of an area as you have access to and laying completely flat. From here, reach your arms out as far as you can to either side of your body. Feel your muscles stretching and the tension releasing.

Now lift your arms as far as you can above your head and tilt your neck in both directions. Mentally scan through different sections of your body, and notice which areas feel strained. Show them some love by gently moving them around, and visualize the stress escaping at last. Your body and mind are intrinsically connected, and when one is feeling good, it will urge the other to rejoice along with it.

5. Say one nice thing to someone you love

The isolation that is so common when dealing with mental illness can negatively impact relationships with our loved ones, no matter how accepting and understanding they may be. You may find yourself avoiding social situations, phone calls, even water-cooler chats. Your responses may have been reduced to a couple of words at a time, keeping those around you at arms-length and looking in from the outside.

Though you might not be ready to let everyone all the way back in, reminding those closest to us that we still love and respect them can be tremendously healing for both parties. Try saying one true, nice thing to someone that you care about; in person, over the phone, or even through text. Doing so can help you to momentarily escape from your inner anguish and immerse yourself in a moment of gratitude and connection.

If you are struggling, please know that you do not have to do it alone, and that it will not last forever. Our clinicians are well-equipped to provide you with the skills you need to return to normalcy or thrive in a way that you never have before. Click here to schedule a phone consultation today.



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