Many people have those moments—or days, or weeks—where they don’t want to go to work, but when the feeling becomes persistent, it’s time to look at the underlying reasons. To do this, you need to first identify the factors causing your reluctance so you can begin working on addressing them.
There are often many reasons for not wanting to go to work. If you ever wake up thinking I don’t want to go to work today, read more about why you might be feeling the way you are—and what you can do about it — here.
Is it Normal to Not Want to Go to Work?
First, it’s important to know that feeling unmotivated to go to work is expected from time to time. Stress, burnout, personal problems, or job dissatisfaction can all affect how you as a person feels.
That said, it’s essential to recognize the reasons behind your reluctance and determine if it’s a temporary phase or a more significant problem that could end up affecting your mental health. Don’t ignore persistent negative feelings towards work — addressing them is how you can move forward in a healthy way.
“Virtually everyone has experienced the feeling of not wanting to go to work occasionally. Sometimes we need to take a mental health day, especially if the job is stressful.”– Talkspace therapist Dr. Olga Molina, D.S.W., LCSW
Common Reasons for Not Wanting to Go to Work
You might feel unmotivated to get to work on any given day for several reasons.
- Burnout: Too much work, long working hours, or high stress can lead to burnout symptoms and lack of motivation.
- Lack of job satisfaction: If you’re unhappy with your role, not wanting to go to work is a natural — not to mention understandable — reaction.
- Poor relationships with colleagues or management: Negative interactions with coworkers or supervisors can create a toxic work environment that makes duties unbearable.
- Fear of failure or underperformance: Feeling inadequate in your abilities might lead to avoiding challenges and criticism at work.
If you’re still asking yourself the question why do I not want to work, there are some other common reasons that might have your answer.
Feeling underappreciated or alienated
A lack of recognition or support from colleagues and supervisors can make anyone feel undervalued.
You may feel neglected or isolated in your current job, which can make wanting to go to work difficult. Whatever the reason, feeling underappreciated or alienated is demoralizing and can lead to a sense of apathy. If you’ve experienced these feelings at work, try the following.
- Address the issue: Thinking about how to talk to your boss about mental health might seem scary, but keep in mind, they may have no idea how you’re feeling. Speak with your supervisor about how you feel and discuss how they might better acknowledge your contributions.
- Seek support: Reach out to colleagues you suspect might be experiencing similar feelings and build connections within the workplace.
- Prioritize self care: Engage in activities outside of work that bring you joy, relaxation, and fulfillment, so you’re not solely relying on validation from the workplace.
Lost sight of your goals
Losing focus on long-term objectives and goals can decrease job satisfaction and employee engagement, making you dread your time at the office. The good news is it can be easy to fix this using the tips below.
- Reconnect with your goals: Pause to contemplate and recognize your short-term and long-term goals to rediscover why you love going to work each day.
- Create an action plan: Break down larger tasks into smaller milestones to make them more manageable, creating a clearer (and more achievable) path to reaching your objectives.
- Talk to management: Discuss your career goals with management or HR to align company objectives with personal growth opportunities.
Negative company culture and infrastructure
A toxic work environment characterized by poor communication, office politics, or high-stress levels can make anyone want to avoid the office. If you’re in a toxic workplace, try the following.
- Create a safe place: Camaraderie can be instrumental in overcoming toxicity in a work environment. Find a group of fellow employees you can bond with. Eat together during breaks, get together outside of work, or create bonding experiences, like a work softball team or after-hours social gatherings.
- Use constructive criticism: Try to constructively bring your concerns to leadership and express your and others’ unhappiness with the toxic company culture.
- Be positive: You don’t need to be a manager or supervisor to thank others for their work. What you put into a situation can often change what you get out of it. Research shows that using positive ideation and “finding the good” can change your mental mindset, counter your anxiety and worry about going to work, and make your days more tolerable.
Mental health issues
Conditions like generalized anxiety disorder or depression might contribute significantly toward negative feelings about your job. Struggling with anxiety, depression, or burnout can make it tough to find motivation for work.
- Evaluate symptoms: Determine if what you’re experiencing aligns with common mental health concerns related to work stressors like burnout.
- Create boundaries: Create boundaries to help you separate work life from your personal life. You might even consider taking a stress leave from work.
- Seek professional help: Consider seeking the assistance of a therapist or counselor who can provide guidance and support in managing your symptoms.
What Should I Do if I Don’t Want to Go to Work?
If you just can’t seem to get out of bed and you don’t want to go to work in the mornings, there are certain things you can implement into your life and daily routine that might help you find the motivation you need.
“You can do many things to rest and recharge if you feel burnt out at work. For example, you can take a mental health day, explore alternative work opportunities, and communicate with your supervisor to better fit your job tasks and career goals. Practicing self care, such as getting enough sleep, eating healthier foods, exercising, and relaxing, are a few other tips that can help you. Seeking out professional counseling can help you increase your job satisfaction and improve your well-being.”– Talkspace therapist Dr. Olga Molina, D.S.W., LCSW
Self-reflection and understanding the source of your feelings
Take a moment to reflect on why you’re feeling this way. Are you feeling burdened, unvalued, or having difficulty with psychological well-being?
Understanding the root cause of your dread can help you determine what changes you need to make to feel more comfortable at work.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are specific job aspects causing stress or discomfort?
- Do you feel overwhelmed at work with all your responsibilities?
- Is there a lack of support from colleagues or management?
- Are personal issues affecting your motivation?
Seek professional help
If your feelings continue or intensify, it might be time to consult a mental health professional experienced in career-related stress. Check out online therapy platforms like Talkspace for easy access to licensed therapists who can guide you through managing workplace challenges and improving your overall mental well-being.
Strategies for regaining your love for your job
Consider why you may feel unmotivated to work and get help if needed. Pause and contemplate why you’re having these feelings, and if necessary, ask leadership for support. Some things that might help you find joy in your work again can include:
- Set and enforce firm boundaries so you don’t feel taken advantage of
- Ask for help if you’re overwhelmed
- Ask for a salary increase
- Take a vacation
- Take breaks throughout your day — try going for a quick walk or regularly getting out of your office for a few minutes
- Workout before heading to work in the mornings
- Create small rewards that you can work toward during your day, so you have something to look forward to
- Start a gratitude journal in the mornings before you go to work
- Recognize your accomplishments
Take a mental health day
Take a break from work to focus on activities that bring rejuvenation and peace of mind — taking a mental health day when needed can prevent further deterioration of your well-being due to workplace stress.
Recharge and self care tips
If you can’t get a day off, prioritize self care during your off time and learn how to destress after work.
- Get enough sleep to ensure each night
- Engage in physical activity to reduce stress
- Practice mindfulness meditation for mental clarity and relaxation
Envision your career path
Sometimes not wanting to go to work is the result of feeling stuck. If you feel like you don’t have a path forward or you’ve been stagnant in your job for some time, envision the career path you want. It might help you feel motivated and like you actually want to work towards your goals so you can get to that next level.
Try discussing your goals for your future with your boss. You can also consider signing up for classes or taking other steps to advance your career.
Embrace the Journey Towards Job Satisfaction
Online therapy platforms like Talkspace provide convenient and affordable access to professional support that can guide you through challenging times when you feel like you don’t want to go to work or when work feels like a chore. With the right tools, you can learn how to identify where your work stress is coming from and overcome it.
- Eagleson C, Hayes S, Mathews A, Perman G, Hirsch CR. The power of positive thinking: Pathological worry is reduced by thought replacement in generalized anxiety disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy. 2016;78:13-18. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2015.12.017 . https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4760272/. Accessed June 2, 2023.