A sense of happiness and well-being is, when all is said and done, one of the things that people most yearn for and strive for in life – and the size and scope of the self-help industry is just one manifestation of this.
When it comes to safeguarding a sense of well-being, there are many different suggestions out there ranging from certain diet approaches, to certain psychological exercises or interpersonal actions.
Ultimately, though, it might be what you don’t do that can – in many cases – be most at the heart of a diminished sense of well-being.
Here’s a look at why inactivity can be one of the worst things for your sense of well-being.
Because it moves you away from direct contact with the world and leaves you trapped in your own thoughts
When you fall into a state of passivity and inactivity, one big part of what is actually happening is that you are moving away from direct contact with the world around you, and are moving into a situation where you are, instead, simply trapped within your own thoughts.
An excess of rumination and negative thinking can be profoundly devastating – especially when you get into a negative spiral, and one self-defeating thought feeds another.
By remaining inactive and then sitting at home by yourself, you may be under the impression – on some level – that you will be able to “think your way to the bottom of things.”
Instead, what is often much more helpful is to do things that help to get you out of your own head for a while – such as physical exercise, working on particular projects, and interacting with other people.
Because inactivity fuels a sense of helplessness, whereas doing something proactive to improve things builds confidence and a sense of possibility
The concept of “Learned Helplessness,” is an idea that was first introduced in the field of psychology by Martin Seligman, when he found that animals who were trained into a belief that their actions could not influence their circumstances, would then maintain that mindset even when the situations were completely different.
Inactivity naturally fuels a sense of helplessness. It helps to establish – and reinforce – a belief that the way things are is where they have to stay, and that nothing you can do is likely to have an impact.
By contrast, doing something proactive to improve things, even just something like ticking Carpet Cleaning off your to-do list, helps to fuel a sense of confidence and the belief in your possibilities.
Because physical activity helps to build resilience, hope, and positivity, whereas inactivity does the opposite
In her book, “The Joy of Movement,” psychologist Kelly McGonigal notes that some of the most powerful effects of regular physical activity include the fact that regular physical activity seems to directly generate a sense of hope, resilience, and positivity.
By contrast, physical inactivity seems to lead to diminished well-being across the board – with individuals who take less than approximately 5000 to 6000 steps a day being significantly more at risk of depression.
Even if you are “doing things” while sitting at your desk, simply being physically inactive can, in and of itself, be very detrimental.