I never enjoy anything

by Ali on April 16, 2008

This is the last in our “Healthy Mind” series, tackling the problem “I feel unhappy because I never enjoy anything.” Is this something that you’ve said – or thought – recently? Leading a busy life can sometimes make us feel we’re not “allowed” to enjoy ourselves. And when things are stressful or difficult, even activities that were favourites in the past can somehow lose their appeal.

Perhaps you feel that, once, you could at least enjoy your food – a big stodgy meal after a hard day at work, a bar of chocolate when you were a bit low, a bag of crisps if you were bored. Now, carrot sticks and crispbreads just don’t quite cut it …

What do you really enjoy?

If you’re like me, there are activities which you think you should enjoy – and perhaps you even feel a bit guilty when you don’t. Going out to the pub is one of mine: if I’m with my boyfriend or a few good friends, I love it … but if I’m with people I don’t know very well, I tend to feel shy, awkward, and regret wasting both my time and my money.

I’m also ambivalent about most music, find nightclubs loud and intimidating, get quickly bored in art galleries…

Just because your friends enjoy something, or because it’s deemed “fun” by society, doesn’t mean you have to take part. Be honest with yourself about what you really enjoy: there’s nothing wrong with wanting to curl up with a good book, play a video game, organise your stamp collection … Forcing yourself into doing things because you think you “should find them fun” will only make you miserable.

Make time to do the things you enjoy

Sometimes, we get so busy with work, chores, studying and time-consuming hobbies that it can be hard to stop and do something purely for fun. Block out some time at the weekend to enjoy yourself: getting out of the house really helps – I know that when I’m in, I find it hard to relax and not check my email every half-hour. Try some of my favourite weekend activities:

  • Go to the cinema: somehow, I always enjoy this more than just watching a film on TV. There’s something special about a planned outing!
  • Walk somewhere. The Boyfriend and I walked the first section of London’s Capital Ring yesterday (8 miles, by the time we’d walked to the start of it…)
  • Eat dinner out: if mealtimes at home are rushed, or if your family never sits down to eat together, going out for a meal is a great chance to spend some quality time chatting.
  • Take your favourite novel to a coffee shop, curl up in one of their big squashy armchairs, and forget about the rest of the world for a while…

Look into getting help if you’re still feeling down

In closing, I should mention that an inability to enjoy activities which were once fun can sometimes be a sign of depression. If you’ve been feeling that there’s nothing exciting left in life, or that you never laugh any more, take a few minutes to read through the symptoms of depression. Make an appointment with your doctor if you are suffering from several of these, and get some professional help and advice.

Thanks for sticking with this series, which has taken a slightly different tack from many of The Office Diet’s posts. I hope that, by now, you’re feeling in tip-top shape both physically and mentally … but if, like most of us, you’ve still got a way to go, why not subscribe to The Office Diet’s feed and get a daily post straight to your RSS reader? And if you’ve got an idea for an article or series you’d like me to write, just drop me an email: ali@theofficediet.com.

(Photo above by Jim Blob Blann)

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