Restlessness: Causes and Overcoming

All people know phases in which they “can’t pull themselves together”. The planned bike tour does not turn out to be anything, because the way to the toilet is already difficult for us. Although we just got up, we have no drive and instead of jogging through the park, we just make it from the bed to the sofa.

We feel weak, our need to sleep paralyses every action – we lose the initiative. Our environment regards us as lethargic. Many accuse us of a lack of will to implement projects.

While we set out to carry out the tasks of everyday life, we hardly manage anything: the refrigerator remains empty, the unpaid bills pile up, the living room, which we have long wanted to clean up, sinks into the trash. For outsiders, this seems like simple laziness. But there is a difference: lazy people don’t disturb their condition. They feel comfortable when their daily shopping is waiting because the bed is more comfortable.

However, lazy people suffer from their condition; they want to do more than they manage. They have a guilty conscience because they do not realize the things they set out to do. Their condition is a symptom of psychological or physical problems.


Temporary listlessness can have banal causes, and we should pay attention to those before suspecting serious mental problems or serious illnesses.

Two major causes are stress and lack of exercise, often in combination. If we have to do justice to many needs, do a workload that is too much for us, while at the same time our partner feels neglected, we feel like in a hamster wheel and what we are doing is never enough, then this means stress.

Our nerves are overstrained, we are internally tense, we do not really calm down. Even if we push this out of our consciousness, the body still responds. The lack of drive thus points the way to what we need.

The excessive need to sleep says: rest, think about what is important to you, relax, think about how you can better structure your work, your life and your relationships.

Lack of exercise puts our bodily functions on a low flame. If we don’t challenge the body a little, the muscles of our skeleton suffer. We lose our physical strength and endurance. Climbing, running or lifting stairs is difficult. We feel lacking drive because even small movements mean effort.

Relaxation exercises such as yoga or autogenic training, walks in nature and light sports help to combat stress. A targeted strength training is particularly helpful against lack of exercise. The aim is not to build up muscle mountains, but to use the neglected muscles.

For all those who sit most of all at work, strength training replaces activities that were understandable just a few decades ago. Anyone who milked the cows, brought in the hay, chopped wood or repaired the roof used many muscles without even thinking about it. Today’s computer users train neither abdominal muscles, nor chest muscles, nor leg muscles, nor pelvic muscles.

One hour of strength training a week is enough to work the slackened muscles. After the first few hours of training everything hurts, but soon the body’s feeling improves and the lack of drive disappears. Trained muscles “want” to work.

Small exercises also work “miracles” if we do them regularly. A few minutes of weight training in the morning breaks the inertia. Cycling trains many muscles, the back as well as the arms, the buttocks as well as the legs and the stomach. It doesn’t take much time to do without a car in the city. On the bike we become more alert because we have to concentrate on our surroundings, we get more oxygen and we move.

Hiking and jogging can also be integrated into everyday life. The external stimuli stimulate unused synapses and we thus also promote our intellectual work.

Finally, swimming requires almost all muscles, but we feel exhausted afterwards, so we should do it outside our regular working hours.

However, we should look carefully at why we do not move enough. Is it really just our job at the computer or convenience? Or is it general frustration?

Psychological problems

Lack of exercise and listlessness are often due to general frustration about one’s own life. Why should we implement goals when we feel that we cannot achieve them anyway? Why should we make an effort on a job that we consider pointless? Why should we, in the literal sense, move if we don’t know where to go or if we don’t see a way that offers us a perspective?

Then we are without drive, because we lack goals that could drive us. Every therapist knows people who lethargically let everything rush past them and considered this to be a normal state, and who were hardly recognizable after successful treatment.

After ending a stressful relationship, getting out of a hated job, moving into a better apartment, they found passions they didn’t even know they had anymore.

Psychological complaints often go hand in hand with other problems that paralyze the drive. Frustrated people reach for the bottle and find feelings of happiness for the time being that compensate for missing love relationships, the ecstasy pill replaces the body’s own drugs after a mountain hike.