How to Overcome Emotional Numbness

There are many reasons for feeling emotionally numb. Maybe you’re grieving the unexpected loss of a cherished loved one. Are you going through a painful or bitter divorce? Are you the sole caregiver for your aging parent? Perhaps you’re a single mom trying to make ends meet, with no relief in sight. Circumstances can lead to feelings of isolation, sadness and despair. Feeling emotionally numb is the result of allowing those feelings to overtake your life.

You Can Feel Better

The absence of emotion occurs when a person has experienced an overload of emotional distress. The tragedies of life can cause feelings of overwhelming sadness, fear, anxiety, and overall physical and mental fatigue. When that happens, emotions shut down, and numbness sets in. There are steps you can take to overcome the feelings of gloom and despair. You can gradually find joy and happiness again, in spite of the life shattering circumstances you have experienced.

Take the First Step; Get Dressed

If you’re sitting around in your house wearing your pajamas, mindlessly watching TV or staring out the window, you have to break the cycle. Make a commitment to get dressed every day. Take a shower, brush your teeth and comb your hair. This may sound too simple, but when you look in the mirror and like the person who’s looking back, you’ll feel better about yourself.

Ready, Set, Out the Door!

Step outside and soak up some sunshine for at least 30 minutes every day. If that sounds overwhelming, make it 15 minutes. Sit on the front porch, or go for a walk around your neighborhood. There’s a lot to be said for the healing power of the sun. Bask in it, feel the soothing warmth against your skin, and enjoy the feeling.

Make a Connection

If you’ve been emotionally numb, chances are you have lost touch with family and friends. Social connections are important. Call a friend just to chat for a few minutes. Ask a relative to meet you for lunch. Reconnecting with friends and family is not only healthy, but the socialization is an essential step toward overcoming your emotional vacuum.

Forgive Others and Yourself

Part of the grieving process involves blame. You may be mad at your loved one for leaving you. Forgive him. Maybe your’re mad at yourself because you had unfinished business, such as words you should have spoken, or things you should have done. Forgive yourself.

Absolve your former spouse, and yourself. Some relationships just aren’t meant to be. If you’re too exhausted at the end of the day to fit in a trip to the park with your child, forgive yourself and cuddle up with a story book instead. Unspoken anger is a normal response to the pressure of caregiving, even if the patient is your parent. Forgive yourself for the feeling and start again tomorrow.

Know When to Seek Professional Help

If you try these ideas and do not notice an improvement in your mental health within a week or two, it may be time to seek the guidance of a mental health professional. Depression can be treated with great success in most cases. Make every attempt to help yourself, but if you can’t get the relief you seek, medication in combination with therapy may be what you need to help you feel better.

How to Overcome Emotional Numbness: ""
Cite this page: Nugent, Pam M.S., "How to Overcome Emotional Numbness," in PsychologyDictionary.org, March 6, 2016, https://psychologydictionary.org/article/how-to-overcome-emotional-numbness/ (accessed June 24, 2018).
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