In mental health circles, this is actually a disorder. It's common among people with mental illness and can totally paralyze you like it did me.
Having mental health problems and not having the energy to do things I want to do makes life more difficult than it is already with a mental illness.
However, I got fed up and just wanted to be more productive again. I wanted to get back in physical shape, I wanted to reintroduce my hobbies that I used to love, and most of all I wanted to go after my dreams again. Does this sound similar?
Well, through a lot of trial and error I figured out 3 simple steps to overcome anhedonia once and for all!
1. Create the intention to accomplish something you really want to do. Start small and think about it for a few days.
Doing this keeps the task in your mind while building a sense of light pressure of not accomplishing what you want done. This will lead you to step 2.
2. Do it regardless – even if you do not feel like it! Do not think about. Just do it. The first time will be difficult. The mind can be so powerful and resist what's actually good for us.
But once you get going inertia takes over – even if it's just for 5 or 10 minutes – you'll probably stay in motion for those few moments.
I go by 30 minutes on 5 to 10 minutes off then 30 minutes on again. 30 minute spurts is all my mental health can handle right now. And in those 5 to 10 minutes away I will do something completely different. There have also been days where I have worked for 30 minutes and then taken a nap and then get back to it later on in the day. This may happen to you too. That's okay!
Once you've completed or started the task or activity, pay attention to how you feel. You should be good at this part since you have a mental illness or other mental health problems. All of us are experts on how we feel.
The first time you may feel nothing or indifferent. That's fine, you've accomplished what you set out to do! And that is empowering! Now you can move on to step 3.
3. Take a break. Then after a period of time, a day at the most, repeat the process with another task that needs to be done or start to engage in another old interest.
By repeating this 3 step process over a few weeks, momentum sets in and the much needed power will be growing inside of you again.
You'll stumble at first. I did a lot. And you'll have to stop listening to that negative voice and do the opposite.
There will be times when the task does not get done the following day. But that's not the point.
The point is, having a mental illness, we need to try and continue to try. There are days where I get nothing “done”. Let that be alright. We do not have to be productive everyday … unless you want to be.
In the end, this 3 step experience will get you back to doing the things you must do and the activities you once enjoyed.
So, try it out. Experiment … and begin to overcome anhedonia once and for all!