Some days, I feel like a complete rockstar. I get up early, do my morning skincare routine, stay on top of my hydration game throughout the day, hit the gym, and shower. I fly through my to-do list, jump at opportunities to help coworkers, and create new tasks for myself. I feel social, I reach out to friends to see how they’re doing, and I am active in my family group chat.
Other days, I feel like the human equivalent of a stale piece of bread.
It’s 100 percent normal to have good days and bad days. Those of you who have more good days than bad, I envy you! For me, especially this year, having a heavy amount of rough, unmotivated days has been more prominent. I’ve been trying really hard not to get too down on myself. Living alone and working from home has taken quite a toll on my mental health and, while I do my best to put my best foot forward (yay therapy! yay reaching out to friends! yay journaling!), some days I just straight up feel like garbage.
Years ago, there was a darker time in my life where, on my days off from my job as a nurse, I literally wouldn’t get out of bed. If you’ve ever had one of those days… you already know. Feeling too anxious or depressed to get out of bed on top of feeling guilty for not being as motivated as you’re used to being is a vicious cycle and it can be tough to get out of. After too many days of feeling like an absolute blob, I made a not-feeling-so-great action plan to help me rebuild my confidence and to stay present on the days where I’m just not feeling it. Here are the five non-negotiable healthy habits that I prioritize on my most unmotivated days:
1. Stay hydrated
After I emerge from my nighttime slumber, I always, always, always rehydrate. Lately, I’ve been reaching for a big mason jar of hot lemon water to help me hydrate, improve digestion, and supplement some vitamin C. Drinking any kind of water is one of the easiest things you can do for your health and sets the tone for a better day. Trust me, being a dehydrated raisin withering away in bed is just not the move!
2. Make a realistic to-do list
I’m not talking about a list of “20 things that need to be done today.” Even on my most productive days, the likelihood that I fully complete a to-do list is rare, so I’m not trying to set myself up for failure. I’ll jot down multiple things that “need to be done at some point,” then, I’ll filter out my top three. Those three things must be done by the end of the day and I start with the least taxing first to help me ease in and to help me build my confidence. Checking something off of my to-do list always gets me going.
3. Move my body
I actually love working out once I get going but, like a lot of people, getting there can be the hardest part. When I’m feeling motivated and have time to spare, I could easily hit the gym for two hours to do cardio and lift which is a huge feat to tackle on days where I’m feeling low. On “blah” days, I still make sure I move my body to improve circulation, work on my mobility, and pump up my endorphins. I’m not talking anything crazy. I’ll either go on a walk if the weather is nice or I’ll pull out my yoga mat to either stretch or do a few yoga flows.
4. Tidy up my living space
When I’m not feeling so hot, the last thing I want to do is fold laundry, do dishes, or round up the water cups that have been accumulating around my apartment. But this year, I’ve gotten in the habit of cleaning up as I go, no matter what (I know, groundbreaking). My grandmother was right: It has made the day-to-day cleanup more manageable. For me, there’s nothing less inspiring or more anxiety-inducing than being surrounded by clutter and having the constant visual reminder that my life is an absolute mess.
They say that laughter is the best medicine and, honestly, I am “they.” Besides the known scientific benefits of laughing, I have found it to be one of the best ways to help me feel like myself again. Whether I find laughter in FaceTiming a friend, rewatching my favorite episode of The Office, putting on a stand-up comedy, or reading a humorous book, it is my daily challenge to find it—no joke.