Everyone experiences a lack of motivation from time to time and when it comes to addiction or recovery, we often put off doing certain things because they may seem to hard to do, we become too scared or fear certain things, we procrastinate, or we maybe even feeling that we aren’t actually worth changing or improving ourselves.
For example, not making a particular phone call or attending a certain appointment with a drug and alcohol service because your brain knows that it will mean the end of continued using or drinking, avoiding certain appointments. Your brain may then act like a toddler and have tantrums or fight back in the form of cravings, temptations, thoughts or feelings because it wants to carry on in active addiction. This only one, very simplified example.
There are many other reasons why we put off doing certain things, and I’m sure that you could come up with a list as long as your arm! Some symptoms that may help us to realise that we are stuck in this situation may include any of the following:
- Not attending group meetings or appointments
- Avoiding to use certain coping strategies or mindfulness techniques
- Avoid reaching out for help or advise
- Telling yourself “I’ll do it in an hours time or I’ll do it tomorrow”
- Telling yourself that something won’t work for you without even trying it
These are just a tiny segment of the things we may tell ourselves or choose to do. Our brain learns what to say to you in order for it to get what it wants, which more often than not is to continue using or drinking. Our brain can be a great alley or an enemy when it comes to certain issues like addiction.
Our brain simply wants to continue our current way of life/active addiction because it is chemically used to living that way. The science behind addictions are a long, complicated thing, with new discoveries being made on a daily basis.
Some of the things that our brain will tell ourselves may also be the excuses, ways in which we justify our behaviours, or ways in which we can convince others to do what we want them to do as well.
On days like this, you might feel tired, irritable, come up with reasons (genuine or imaginary) why we can’t do something now or within a realistic time scale, or even just unable to stir up enough energy, motivation or interest to do the things you typically know that you are putting off or are avoiding doing.
MUST READ: The things that you’re putting off or avoiding doing are often the exact things that you need to be doing now in order to make the necessary changes you need in order to move onwards and upwards!
Your brain subconsciously knows that if you do those certain things then your circumstances will change and take you away from the current life that you’re living now. If you want to make real, meaningful changes in your life, you MUST do the things that you’re putting off or avoiding!Drink ‘n’ Drugs
However occasional periods of feeling this way are perfectly normal. It might mean that you’re under extra stress or trying to deal with something out of the ordinary in your life. These feelings are temporary and usually nothing serious. They can sometimes be a sign that you need to step back, take a break, and let your mind and body rest and do things in a stepwise manner.
This is however, totally different from purposely avoiding to do the things that you need to do to achieve change.
At other times, these lingering feelings where you don’t feel like doing anything or certain things can be symptoms of more serious problems such as depression or some other type of mood disorder or mental health condition. If you’re experiencing a loss of interest or enjoyment in the things that you usually find pleasurable, or a sense of apathy about life in general that lasts for more than two weeks, talk to your GP, Therapist, drug and alcohol Keyworker or healthcare professional about this.
If these feelings seem like a more temporary state of mind or you just can’t muster up enough energy to do the things you realistically know that you should be doing, there are some things you can do to feel better and regain your motivation to make real, lasting change.
Take A Break To Reassess Your Situation Or Plan
Feeling like you don’t want to do anything or certain things can be a sign that you’re stressed or burned out. Sometimes taking a short rest to look at your situation, what you’ve already done or tried so far, and what physical and mental changes can you make to overcome particular issues.
It is also important to spend some time taking care of yourself by looking after your emotional well-being, physical health and personal hygiene for example. (Remember it is important to look after your health both physically and mentally). It can also be a great way to help you to change your perspective of yourself and your current situation and circumstances.
Consider giving yourself a “mental health day” where you let go of your personal expectations and instead, focus on doing the things that help you feel restored, comforted, and valued as an individual who’s trying to make important, life saving and life changing alterations in your life.Drink ‘n’ Drugs
Let yourself enjoy a nap or lounge about watching a funny or positive movie with a cozy blanket or maybe you can go to a safe space (a place where you can feel calm and safe. It is better if possible that this place be outside somewhere) and just read your favorite book or write in your journal.
The key is to spend this time relaxing and letting your mind and body rest. This however is to be enjoyed occasionally and not an excuse to do it daily and avoiding other daily commitments, responsibilities or other important daily tasks.
Sometimes some fairly simple self-care can help to put you in a better frame of mind to take an objective look at what’s not working or holding you back from achieving your goals. This may help you to reassess your situation and help you to get to where you want to be. Try taking hot and cold showers or baths, do some simple stretching exercises, practice some easy meditation or mindfulness techniques and try to drink a glass of water at regular intervals throughout the day.
Having a daily recovery routine/schedule and a relapse prevention plan when you’re trying to get clean and sober are absolutely amazing ways of building a new life that encompasses all of the important things we need to ensure we do in recovery, whilst also having fun, socialising and maintaining responsibilities. You can find our ultimate guide to creating and implementing your own daily recovery routine here. We would also highly suggest that you also create a relapse prevention plan if your healthcare professional or drug and alcohol service haven’t already helped you to create one.
Managing The Stigma & Labels Surrounding Addicts Wanting To Get Clean & Sober
Sometimes the labels, stereotypes and stigma that surrounds addiction is still unfortunately still more prevalent than it should be baring in mind that we as one big society are now more accepting of LGBTQ+ community, women’s equal rights and opportunities, black lives matter, disabled persons rights and opportunities, those who have a higher body weight compared to others, those with physical abnormalities and those with mental health issues. So why should those suffering with substance addiction be any different?
We all need to ensure that what we say is truly what we mean. Using labels and terms in addiction can have a negative impact on your recovery effort. Likewise the way that we misjudge or prejudge people also negatively impacts them. Treat yourself fairly, yes you have an addiction, and yes you are a drug or alcohol addict. However this isn’t you, it’s simply an issue that you’re trying to overcome. You wouldn’t say “Hi I’m John and I’m a diabetic” or “hi I’m Lucy and an epileptic”. Try not to attach labels to yourself and simply focus on the fact that yes you have this issue presently, however you’re currently in the process of working to overcome this recognised medical health condition and this is a positive thing that should be praised and respected for, and seen as such.
Treat Yourself Kindly & Fairly
Self-compassion involves not only being kind to yourself but also understanding that your experiences and making mistakes are part of being a human being, and being mindful of your own emotions, both the good and the bad.
You also need to treat yourself fairly and changing the way that you talk to yourself and about yourself to others. Also becoming vulnerable, knowing that you need to deal with things that will be hard and uncomfortable are a natural and necessary part of recovering from substances.
REMEMBER: It’s like peeling back an onion, once you red rid of the protective layers (deceptive coping strategies) and allow yourself to see the true inside, accepting that it is what it is, and that it’s those parts that often need the biggest changes and ongoing work to make lasting change.Drink ‘n’ Drugs
Showing yourself some compassion, consideration and self respect can have huge mental health benefits that also have knock on effects that help to also increase your physical health too. Research has found that when people show compassion to themselves, it can help alleviate the negative effects of stress, reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, and lower overall levels of psychological distress.
So if you’re having one of those days when you really don’t feel like doing anything, treat yourself with a little kindness. Accept it, understand that it is a natural process that all addicts have to contend with, and allow yourself the space, time and things that you need to do in order to make those vital lifestyle and personal changes.
Showing yourself such self-compassion has actually been found to help improve motivation when you are struggling with doing the things that you really don’t want to do.
It is important during this process to also important to give up the addict identity that you’ve carried around with you over the months, years or decades that you’ve been using or drinking.
Go For A Walk
Taking a stroll combines the benefits of exercise and it’s natural feel good chemicals that your body produce when you exercise and spend time outdoors. It is also where your body can absorb important vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D-1, D-2 and D-3.
Exercise has been shown to be effective in both the treatment and prevention of depressive symptoms as well as being helpful to improve your physical health and help to heal the years of damage that you’ve inflicted upon your body when you actively used or drank.
Research suggests that spending time outdoors has a wide range of mental health benefits. One 2019 study found that contact with nature was linked to better well-being, better mood, more positive social interactions and increased levels of overall happiness.
So if you’re battling a low mood and poor motivation, taking a walk outdoors might go a long way toward helping you feel better, whether it’s a casual stroll around the block or a hike on a local trail through a forest or along a beach.
Talking To Someone Else
When you’re in a funk, reaching out to another person can be a great way to break out of an uninspired mindset. Think about who might be a good source of support in moments like this.
Who can you talk to who might understand how you are feeling and may be able to empathise about your situation? Are you looking for someone who can just listen, or do you want someone who can inspire you to get moving with supportive, yet firm support?
People you may want to consider talking to may include:
- Family members
- Close, trustworthy friends
- Fellowship groups/ individual fellowship members who you can trust and are inspired by
- A therapist or Keyworker
- Your GP or healthcare professional
- Addiction helplines
- Members of online or social media groups.
- Charities that provide talking therapies by trained staff who are strangers to you (sometimes this can be easier initially)
- Talking to pets, nature or religious deities
If you aren’t in the mood to hang out with a friend, or if your friend is unavailable, sometimes just getting out and just being in the presence of other people can be helpful. Whether it may be on a high street, shopping centre or other types of highly populated areas (where safe social distancing allows).
Speaking to a trained, professional Counsellor or Psychotherapist can also be helpful in releasing pent up thoughts, feelings and emotions, gain a new perspective on life and benefit from a wide range of therapeutic techniques that these healthcare professionals can use to help you and your current situation.
Enjoying a cup of coffee, iced tea or milkshake in a busy coffee shop, smiling at people in the grocery store or saying hi to a neighbour are all simple social experiences that have been proven to help shift your mood.
Even if you don’t have the motivation to work on something at the moment, that doesn’t mean you can’t start making plans for what you might like to do in the future.
Research suggests that mental imagery, or visualising things that you want to do helps to increase your motivation, expected pleasure and anticipated reward of those planned activities and goals. We’d highly recommend that you do these using SMART goals and make sure that no matter what, you stick to the deadlines and timeframes that you set. If you don’t, planning like this will be a pointless and unproductive technique to use. If you know that this technique won’t work for you, it’s best to try a different type of technique than plan using this method and fail to meet the goals you set for yourself which may cause you to become even more de-motivated and unproductive.
Doing something like planning a trip or an experience day or a physical purchase of something that you’ve wanted for some time can give you something to look forward to and something to get excited about. You can use these rewards when you manage to meet and achieve the goals that you set for yourself. It provides a great source of motivation and teaches your mind that when it does positive things when they are to be done by means that it will get a positive, healthy reward (obviously drugs and alcohol aren’t to be used as rewards!).
Thinking about a future projects, goals and dreams often involve doing things like visualising the outcome and provides a mental image that a life free of substances can, is and will be even more productive, prosperous and even more enjoyable than any substance can provide. planning out the steps involved, or even creating a mood board or brainstorm for inspiration and provide you a good way to see a different perspective about your situation or current circumstances.
Start Small & Work Up From There
When it comes to finding the energy to do something, especially if it’s the last thing that you want to do, getting started is often the hardest part. So if you’re struggling with the doldrums, starting with something small can help to get you going.
Instead of getting overwhelmed by a mountain of tasks that are stacked up to the ceiling, you don’t have the mental or physical energy to tackle, pick one small thing that you can do—then do it. Once you’ve completed one task, doing another becomes easier the more you do them.
Easy tasks you might try to tackle may include:
- Making your immediate living environment a more enjoyable, stress free place to live
- Making your bed and have some healthy breakfast
- Spend 1 hour looking after your appearance, personal hygiene and the way that you feel about yourself
- Send one email to 1 charity, group or organisation who may be able to help you
- Scheduling one appointment
- Clearing out & safely getting rid of any drug paraphernalia you may have
- Write someone a letter to tell them how you feel and talk to them about things that aren’t drug or alcohol related
- Make an appointment to see your local community drug and alcohol service, rehab, therapist or GP surgery to begin getting help to overcome your addiction
- Talk to one person, the one who you trust and feel most comfortable with who you know won’t judge you, and tell them about your addiction and how you feel
- Reducing the amount of substance(s) you use or drink per day by one ml, mg, pint, glass, hit, smoke, pipe, bong etc
- Making a list of what you may need to do in order to overcome your addiction, or at least get the help you may need
- Go for 1 walk per day to somewhere you like and feel comfortable being at and just enjoy some time in nature
- Drink 1 extra glass of water
Chores can be boring, but even the easiest tasks can start to feel overwhelming if you let them pile up or get behind (I’m sure that we’ve all experienced this in our emotional/mental health!). Starting with one small task is sometimes enough to just get that important, recovery sized ball rolling! Once you get done with that easy chore, you might think that tackling one more might not be so bad.
Starting one small task is sometimes just enough to get that recovery sized ball rolling!Drink ‘n’ Drugs
And if you decide to stop after just one, that’s fine too! Give yourself some grace and do what you can, when you can. Remember that recovery isn’t a race, it’s a lifelong marathon that we must taken steadily and with
Are fears holding you back? Overcoming these fears should be done in a stepwise approach so that you don’t become overwhelmed by the fear that you want to overcome. Check out our article on overcoming fear by clicking here.
Write In A Journal
When you are struggling with difficult emotions or thoughts, it can sometimes be helpful to get your thoughts and feeling physically written down on paper, computer document or phone app. Some research suggests that getting your pent up thoughts and feelings out of your mind and written down in some form of journal can a useful and positive mental health tool.
Journaling also has the following 5 benefits, some of which may come as a surprise to you!
- Journaling Can Reduce Depression and Anxiety
- Journal Writing Can Help Boost Immune Function
- Journaling Helps Cultivate Gratitude
- Journaling Can Help With Recovery From Trauma
- Keeping a Journal can Improve Memory Function
Often described as expressive writing or writing therapy, this approach has been shown in various case studies and addiction research to help decrease blood pressure, relieve anxiety symptoms, reduce depressive symptoms and improve recovery optimism.
DID YOU KNOW: It has been shown in clinical research that the majority of those who live successfully in addiction recovery use some form of journaling in their daily routine.
For example, in one study, 10,000 people were chosen, 5,000 were dependant upon alcohol and the other 5,000 on drugs. At the end of the study of those who managed to enter recovery and remain so after the study had finished for 1 year, 86% were still using journaling in their daily routine.Drink ‘n’ Drugs
Spending some time writing in a journal can be a great opportunity to reflect on what you are feeling and explore some of the reasons you might be feeling that way. Journaling also provides other benefits including:
- Provide an opportunity for you to review your life previously to show you how far you’ve come
- Provide you with an opportunity to work out which parts have been working for you and which bits haven’t
- Allow you to see things from different perspectives
- Allows you to reflect on certain negative incidents and how/what you can change to avoid that happening again in future. After all, everyone in recovery will make mistakes at one point or another. However, its important that you use lapses and relapses as a learning opportunity and not simply just a one off event.
Being grateful has a huge positive impact upon your outlook on your current situation and where you want to end up. It has been scientifically proven that being grateful has knock on effects into other areas of your life too.
Find What Works For You
If these ideas aren’t working for you, start looking for something that is right for your situation and what you are feeling. Some strategies that might help inspire you on those difficult days where you don’t feel like doing anything can include:
- Listing steps needed to achieve a goal
- Listing to music that inspires you
- Focusing on positive thoughts
- Reading a book or listen to an audiobook
- Cooking or ordering your favourite meal
- Practicing breathing exercises
If you’ve tried these and other things and still feel lethargic and listless, it might be time to take a look at your symptoms and decide if the problem might be something that your GP, Doctor or healthcare professional may need to look into as feeling chronically lethargic, unmotivated and negative can be symptoms of other medical conditions that you may also have. Keep this in mind.
Your Thoughts Are Just That, Thoughts & With Time Comes Healing
Our minds can be a powerful force which can try to push us to do either good or bad things. Our minds know just what to say to you or do, and at just the right time for your mind to achieve whatever it’s focused on and wants.
As addicts, we know this extremely well in the form of cravings and temptations. However, the good news it that if we remind ourselves that our thoughts are simply that… thoughts, and without a physical action attached to that, they will simply fade away after a short while. This is where positive coping strategies and techniques come into play.
REMEMBER: Just because you think of something, get a craving or temptation doesn’t mean that you have to act on them. Without physical actions, thought remain only thoughts!Drink ‘n’ Drugs
Once you come to realise this, staying in recovery allows you to take better control over your actions once thoughts have been bombarding you over and over again. The longer you remain in recovery, the more chance your body has to heal itself from the months, years or even decades of abuse that your body has had to go through. Taking baby steps in the right direction to slowly work through those issues you’ve been putting off for a long time and yet, they’re the exact things that you need to do in order to improve your situation, enter recovery and remain there.
Get Advice From Drink ‘n’ Drugs
On our help and support link, you will find a wide variety of groups, charities and organisations who can help you to overcome your addictions from multiple angles of attack. You can find our help and support page by clicking here.
You can also find professional help with our range of professional, specialised and effective therapeutic services, these include counselling, hypnotherapy, acupuncture and guided mindfulness & meditation sessions.
Assess Your Symptoms
If your symptoms and is accompanied by other symptoms, it may be a sign of depression or other types of mental health condition. Some other symptoms to watch for include:
- Changes in sleep patterns/insomnia
- Changes in appetite (increased or decreased)
- Persistent low mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or suicidal/self harm intentions
- Loss of interest in things that are normally enjoyable
- Breaking promises, commitments or responsibilities
If you do get feelings of hopelessness that are accompanied by thoughts or intentions of harming yourself or committing suicide, it is vital that you reach out and call 999 immediately, contact your mental health team if you have one or speak to your drug and alcohol team. If you have already self harmed, overdosed or attempted suicide, you must call 999 straight away.
Reaching out to your Doctor, therapist, drug and alcohol service or healthcare professional for more help. This might involve certain specialised types of therapy, taking certain medications, making lifestyle changes or a combination of all of these approaches along with others depending on your personal circumstances, current health conditions and circumstances.