When you feel like you can’t do anything right, the whole day feels like a bust. It can be hard to get back on your feet when persistent negative thoughts are getting in your way.
Think about the last time you felt this way. After some time, did your lack of energy subside? Remember that depressive feelings don’t last forever, as emotions act like a tide coming in and out.
Luckily, there is always something you can do to get back in action. We've created a list of 11 positive practices to turn things around.
What to Do When You Can't Do Anything
If your self-esteem is running on empty, you may be asking yourself, “Why can’t I get anything right?” It’s important for you to understand that your lack of motivation isn’t your fault.
Our emotional worlds can be complex. We often go through stages of depression that feel inexplicable and difficult to overcome. Then, out of nowhere, we feel better again. The clouds clear, the sky turns from grey to blue, and we forget the rain ever came.
However, our responsibilities can’t always wait for a natural turnaround in our mood. If you are feeling unproductive or incapable, know that it isn’t a reflection of your character and that there are productive steps you can take to uplift your mood.
Just because you have thoughts like, “I can’t do anything right,” doesn’t mean they are true. You can learn to break past negative thought patterns. If your feelings of depression are prolonged, you may want to:
Why Can't I Do Anything Right? 11 Ways to Turn It Around
1. Reorganize your space.
When you’ve felt depressed for some time, your room or home may not feel comfortable anymore. For visual thinkers and aesthetically minded people, the space around you can often reflect the state of your mind.
When those spaces are at odds, it can be hard to get anything done. Cleaning or reorganizing your room is a small task that can make a monumental difference in your mental health.
Not only will you feel proud of your hard work, but your environment will be working for you rather than against you.
2. Connect with nature.
Have you gotten out of bed today? When was the last time you went on a nice walk around your neighborhood and felt the sun on your skin?
You can fight feelings of mental paralysis by getting your body moving and connecting to something bigger than yourself. The beauty of nature is the perfect tonic for negative feelings.
Allow yourself to feel inspiration and gratitude for the beauty of nature. You don’t have to hike Mount Everest, but a five-minute walk around the block can make a world of difference.
3. Take a shower.
Our bodies do so much for us, even when we feel like we can’t do any at all. Every cell in your body is working just for you, even when it feels like your brain isn’t functioning at full capacity.
Small actions, like taking a shower or a bath, honor your body for the good things it does for you. It can also press reset after a tough day. After you get out of the shower, take a few moments to just breathe, and remember how capable you are.
4. Incorporate mantras into your routine.
Negative thoughts are usually a part of a pattern. Our brain gets used to negative self-talk, internalizes it, and then it begins to feel like reality. If you continue to believe you are a failure or you can't do anything right, it might become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It’s important to remember that those self-defeating thoughts exist only as unreliable products of your consciousness. Meditation and repeating mantras or affirmations can ground you in the present moment and rewire your brain to respond to negative emotions with more positive thoughts.
5. Ask yourself questions.
Do you feel like the only question you can ask yourself right now is, “Why can't I get anything done?” Try turning that question around, and reframe it in a more positive light.
Instead of assuming you can’t get anything done, ask yourself, “What is one thing I can do right now that would make me feel better?” Your answer could be to go for a walk or have an ice cream cone — it’s entirely up to you!
Or maybe you're thinking, “I feel like I can't do anything right.” Change that thought to, “What are some things I have done well?” Remind yourself of those things, and write them down in a journal so you remember them.
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6. Reframe your to-do list.
When you are feeling down on yourself or stuck, your to-do list is still there waiting for you. Tasks can build up over time and feel overwhelming no matter how small they are.
Rethink how you approach these tasks. If you aren’t good with routines, don’t make one. Just pick one thing off your list each day, and find an hour in the day to do it.
Break tasks down into small, manageable actions that still make you feel productive but don't tax you too much.
Allow yourself to be flexible and go with the flow. Don’t be so hard on yourself about when you get things done or how much you accomplish. One useful action is better than none.
7. Ask a friend for help.
If you feel like you can’t get anything done, that’s okay. You don’t have to do it all by yourself. There’s no shame in asking a friend to lighten your load. That’s what friends are for.
Enlist a friend's help and your task just got more fun! The time it takes to complete it will be cut in half, while you and your friend goof off and make each other laugh.
8. Go on a trip.
Nothing hits reset on a tough few weeks like getting out of town. When you feel like you can't do anything right, then step back and lean in to a mental and emotional break.
Go on a weekend getaway and treat yourself to a fun new experience. Your productivity does not determine your worth, and you deserve to treat yourself no matter what.
9. Set small goals.
The bigger the task, the more daunting it feels, and the more paralyzed you may become. If you are already in a rut, don’t set your self-expectations too high.
Break down your larger goals into smaller, more manageable goals. Plus, this way you have more milestones to celebrate.
Each goal you complete is another one you can cross off your list — and crossing things off lists is one of the simple joys in life.
10. Reward yourself.
You did it! You got out of bed today, that’s awesome. Celebrate with a nice, fancy cup of tea. You finished up an assignment you’d been putting off. That’s incredible!
It can be so hard to overcome that anxiety, so be proud of yourself. You deserve a treat. Rewarding yourself for small tasks isn’t silly — it’s motivating. Your brain loves rewards, and doing something nice for your brain will help you to feel better.
11. Do nothing.
So you can’t get anything done. That’s okay. We are taught that a lack of motivation and low productivity is always bad. But often it's a call for rest. Sometimes your body just needs a break.
If you feel like you are making a lot of mistakes and getting things wrong, it could be a sign that you're not well-rested or that stress is impacting your concentration and focus.
There’s nothing wrong with listening to your body and giving it the rest it needs. Go take a nap or lounge in front of the TV. These are little joys that can help us reset.
When you can't do anything right, try one of these actions.
We all feel stuck sometimes. Getting out of a self-reinforcing rut is never an easy task, and many people take for granted how scary that incapacitation can feel.
You are stronger and more capable than you know, even right now. Take stock of where you are and be more forgiving with yourself. Whether you go on a walk or call a friend, these little steps will make a huge difference.
Commit to trying a couple of them when you your life feels stuck and you aren't your best. Just taking one of these actions proves that you can do something, even if it's a small something. Build on that and let the momentum carry you forward until your emotions follow.