How to find enjoyment in life when every day feels hard

During the last couple of years, it has felt like we’ve been hit by one challenge after another.

Rewind to the 2019 bushfires, which feels like a lifetime ago. A couple of months later, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which was the start of a long two years. Then just when we thought we were getting back on our feet, another variant of the virus comes along.

Since then, we’ve had the Ukraine war, the rising cost of living, soaring inflation, and now predictions of a recession in the very near future.

“The last few years have offered most of us very little respite from big energy-draining and spirit-depleting experiences. It’s not surprising that we’re struggling to stay motivated,” said Alex Kingsmill, a life coach at Upstairs Coaching.

In these times, it can feel hard to find enjoyment in life, especially when you’re simply trying to find the motivation to get through each day.

Thankfully, there are small and actionable steps you can put into practise to make the days feel a little easier and more enjoyable – even when the going gets tough.

Here’s how you can start:

Recognise factors for lack of motivation

Start by recognising the external factors that are reducing your motivation and try to take practical steps to manage these factors, advises Dr Alison Mahoney, a senior clinical psychologist at online mental health service THIS WAY UP.

For example, if working from home means your work and home life boundaries are blurred, perhaps speak to your employer about options for going back into the office so you can separate work life from home life. Or consider setting stricter boundaries – honour the hours that are dedicated to work time but be disciplined about switching off and spending time with family or friends.

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Identify negative thoughts

Dr Mahoney suggests identifying negative thinking patterns that are demotivating you and challenging these unhelpful thoughts.

“For example, you could be constantly focusing on what could go wrong. Catch these thoughts and try to consider other points of view that are more encouraging,” she said.

“Think of what you would say to a friend or someone you care about. Try to be curious and have compassion for those negative feelings. Is there another reason for these thoughts? Could you be feeling scared, angry, ashamed, or sad?”

Draw on previous strengths

Draw on your strengths and think of past times you’ve been successful, suggests Dr Mahoney.

“Think about past times you have managed to do something when your motivation was low. How did you do it? What things made it more likely? How did you overcome the obstacles? How did you motivate yourself? How can you apply this to the current problem?”