How to Practice Self-Care (Even When You Seem to Have No Motivation)

Self-care has been a trending buzzword in recent years, but the concept isn’t as intuitive or straightforward as it may seem. Sure, it’s nice to enjoy lavish vacations or embrace long afternoon naps, but these experiences just aren’t feasible for everyone. Likewise, they don’t always make people feel better. 

Busy schedules, demanding careers, mental health issues, family obligations- these needs all make the ability to practice self-care challenging. In some cases, self-care can feel like another item on a never-ending to-do list.

But honoring your needs is still important. You can learn to prioritize your well-being even if you feel like you have no motivation. Here’s what you need to know. 

Find What Works for You

Self-care looks different for everyone. One person might find that spending a Saturday cleaning out their home feels highly rejuvenating. Another may prefer getting a manicure with girlfriends. Someone else might enjoy volunteering at the local soup kitchen.

With this in mind, try not to judge how you enjoy recharging your emotional batteries. In addition, your own self-care needs might fluctuate based on your stress or current circumstances. As a result, what brings you joy one day may not be the best strategy the following week.

Maintain having a curious and open mind when it comes to honoring your well-being. It may be helpful to have a list of feel-good activities you can refer to if you feel stuck. 

Focus on Discipline

Motivation is great, but solely relying on motivation means relying on a fleeting state to get things done. In other words, if you don’t feel motivated, you might not take action. And then you’re in a vicious cycle of waiting to want to take care of yourself. 

That said, building sustainable habits often requires discipline. Discipline, in a sense, means taking your emotions out of the equation. You simply commit to the actions, even if you don’t necessarily want to do them.

Discipline starts by identifying your particular weaknesses. What gets in the way of you taking care of yourself? What excuses do you repeatedly make? And, finally, how can you actually address those weaknesses? 

Schedule Self-Care 

Scheduling self-care isn’t selfish. If you want to be more present in your relationships, perform better at work, and have better self-esteem, you need to take care of yourself. Nobody can do that work for you. 

So, just like you have to schedule work meetings or doctor’s appointments, you may need to plan your self-care in advance. Doing so makes it a real commitment, not just a haphazard thought.

Finally, it may be helpful to remind yourself that self-care doesn’t need to be extensive or time-consuming to be effective. Even a few minutes a day can make a significant difference in how you feel.

Visualize How You Will Feel After

Visualization is a powerful tool that can encourage you to make positive decisions. When we imagine future outcomes (and feel excited by them), these outcomes can encourage us to take much-needed action in our present lives. 

With that in mind, try to imagine yourself engaging in a specific self-care activity. Whether it’s taking a brisk walk or going to lunch with a friend, think about how you might think and feel once it’s over.

Visualization, of course, isn’t a guarantee. For instance, you can’t tell if you will definitely feel happier or calmer after engaging in a specific activity. But you know yourself, which means there’s a good chance that you have some awareness as to how you react to specific situations.

Connect Self-Care With Other Tasks

If you have a busy schedule, consider how you can build self-care into your everyday routine. 

For example, if you have a long commute to work, how can you make that time feel more pleasurable? Can you download a new audiobook that intrigues you? Can you spend that time listening to your favorite podcast or reflecting on your daily gratitude? 

If you have to cook for your family, how can you embrace that experience? Maybe you focus on finding new recipes that interest you. Or, you light a few candles and listen to some good music while chopping vegetables.

By optimizing your existing routine, you will experience more frequent moments of joy throughout the day. Over time, those small shifts can significantly improve your overall mood.

Seeking Therapy When You Have No Motivation 

Self-care is an integral part of honoring your emotional well-being. If you struggle with your mental health, it’s important to choose loving, healthy activities that help you feel better about yourself. 

Of course, this mindset can be challenging when you feel apathetic or discouraged. In addition, if you have no motivation, it might be because you struggle with depression or anxiety. It also might be related to trauma or other particularly distressing life experiences.  
Regardless of the circumstances, we are here to help you. Contact us today to schedule a session.

Willow Counseling, PLLC, Nashville, TN

Willow Counseling, PLLC exists to provide quality trauma-informed mental health counseling to the Nashville community, recognizing the interconnectedness of our emotional, spiritual and physical selves. We work together to alleviate symptoms, learn better coping skills, relieve burdens, remove the pain of trauma, and so much more. However, our greatest desire is for you to know what it means to feel purpose and joy again and to recognize the strength and worth you have to offer the world.


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