How to overcome apathy? 6 practical tips

Apathy is a psychological phenomenon that occurs in many people who seek professional support from psychologists. While in some amounts this is part of the normal life of the average human being and there is nothing wrong with feeling this once in a while, the truth is that in some cases apathy becomes so present day to day that it is necessary. undergo therapy.

But of course there are always intermediate situations, in which this emotional state is felt as a problem of unemployment, at the same time it may not be as problematic as the professionals of psychology. With that in mind, we’ll see here a series of tips to overcome apathy by introducing new habits in your life.

    What do we mean by apathy?

    As is almost always the case with concepts from the world of psychology, there are several ways to define apathy, although they all have a number of common elements. To sum up, we will say here that apathy is a feeling characterized by lack of sources of motivation and low predisposition to focus the mind on the emotionally stimulating aspects of life.

    Thus, apathy is linked to emotional flattening, that is, the lack of easily identifiable emotions, as well as the tendency not to spontaneously express feelings through non-verbal language, to more focusing attention on specific aspects of the present, due to a lack of interest in everything in general.

    As I said before, apathy in itself is not a very bad thing, nor a psychological disorder, but when it is very persistent and greatly affects the person and their normal functioning in society, it is considered a symptom of a potential psychopathology or neurological disorder. In the most extreme and clearly pathological cases, apathy becomes what we call abulia, that is, the complete inability to feel enthusiasm or interest. This phenomenon occurs mainly in psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, as well as in dementia and other diseases related to brain damage.

    Apathy according to the Csikszentmihalyi flow model

    Another way to understand what apathy is is to do it using the flow model designed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This researcher developed an explanatory diagram that helps to understand the functioning of emotional states of enthusiasm and engagement in tasks, Closely linked to experiences that bring happiness if they are part of our daily lives. The flow would be a psychological state characterized by a perfect balance between the level of difficulty of the task we are performing, on the one hand, and our level of skills involved in this type of activity.

    Thus, when this task to be performed reaches the maximum point that we can successfully reach from our skills and knowledge, the state of flow appears, which leads us to focus our full attention on this challenge that we are taking up and we flood. with a feeling of excitement and well-being, to the point that in many cases we lose track of time.

    So good; according to Csikszentmihalyi, apathy can be understood as the opposite of the state of flow: the practical absence of a state of mental stimulation and the lack of enthusiasm and enthusiasm to perform a specific actionWhat attacks us when there is nothing that we interpret as a significant challenge for us or that requires us to practice complex skills. On the other hand, if the state of flux is characterized among other things by being punctual and based on a delicate balance which can normally only be maintained continuously for a few minutes, apathy can last much longer, and if it is related to psychopathology, it is even common for it to be the person’s “default” mental state and to persist for months.

      How to overcome apathy?

      If you think you are suffering from too much apathy, follow these tips to increase your chances of leaving this pervasive psychological state behind in your life. Of course, in case you are clear that it makes you suffer a lot of problems and affects you more and more, it is important that you go to therapy as soon as possible,

      1. Make sure you get enough sleep

      Lack of sleep is an element capable of triggering emotional and cognitive problems in the short term, Just a matter of a few days. Fortunately, in the vast majority of cases, when you return to a normal sleep pattern again, these problems go away.

      This way, if the way you sleep is chaotic or insufficient, create a clear and detailed sleep schedule in which there is proof of the exact time of each day of the week you go to bed, making sure that in no case do you sleep less than six and a half hours or more than eight and a half hours. Plus, it also includes a brief mention of the main activity you were doing right before bed (for example, reading a novel), and prints out the schedule for you to hang onto. A place in your home that you see often. This way, it will be easier for you to commit to this timeline.

      2. Avoid drugs

      There are many drugs among the known effects, it is the phenomenon of becoming less sensitive to what gave us pleasure or aroused interest in us. These anhedonic properties have been observed, for example, in cannabis. In addition, almost all medications make us more likely to develop psychopathologies associated with apathy or abulia.

        3. make sure you are eating well

        Mental health is, in practice, the same as whole body health: an organism in poor condition is more vulnerable to psychological problems. In particular, if we lack vitamins or nutrients, it is not surprising that we experience apathy, as our bodies prioritize the use of resources in basic biological processes for survival, which do not. ‘have nothing to do with mental activity.

        You may also feel listless about having anemia, a problem to some extent unrelated to what you’ve eaten. If you suspect this is the case, see your doctor as soon as possible.

        4. Learn to manage time better

        Many people feel apathy primarily because they are given responsibilitiesSo, they may not even consider the idea of ​​doing something that they like or that interests them, because they don’t have time for it. In this sense, focusing on sticking to a well-designed schedule that allows you to complete these tasks at the right time can become the key to overcoming apathy.

        To increase your chances of success, make sure you don’t neglect the moments of rest, which are essential for being effective. Of course, be careful not to overdo it; if there are distractions that tend to tempt you too much and cause you to postpone what you have to do, limit your access to them before the start of your day.

        On another side, if you can’t manage the time, don’t worry; it is not uncommon for an apathetic person to be unable to engage in a series of new habits on their own. If you need it, consult a psychologist so that with the help of a professional, you can transform your daily life.

        5. Segment your goals

        It’s easier to overcome apathy if you always have simple goals in front of you and can get there in minutes or hours. This will make it easier to focus your attention and stop wandering. Once you get into this dynamic of interacting with the environment, it is likely that this energy will generalize to many other activities that you do., And this predisposes you to detect actions and projects that interest you.

        6. Do moderate exercise

        Exercising three or four times a week will help you maintain physical and mental activity that predisposes you to take a more active role in your life. Make sure these are sessions of at least 35 minutes and don’t cause you to over-strain your muscles, to avoid injuries and pain that prevent you from following a frequent exercise routine.

        Are you looking for psychological assistance?

        If you notice that you are going through a time in your life when you are having emotional or behavioral issues and are seeking professional help to overcome them, I invite you to contact me. I am an expert psychologist in the cognitive-behavioral model, which is characterized by being very efficient and adaptable to different needs to be covered, and this allows us to adopt new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving more appropriate to do facing the challenges of life. You can count on my services in person during my consultation in Madrid, or through the online psychology service by video call. If you want to know more about my work, go to this page where you will also find my contact details.

        Bibliographical references:

        • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V. Masson, Barcelona.
        • Bortolon, C .; Macgregor, A .; Capdevielle, D .; Raffard, S. (2018). “Apathy in schizophrenia: a review of neuropsychological and neuroanatomical studies”. Neuropsychology. 118 (Pt B): pages 22-33.
        • Levy, R. and Dubois, B. (2006). Apathy and functional anatomy of the prefrontal cortex-basal nuclei circuits. Cereb. Cortex; 16 (7): pages 916 to 928.
        • Martz, ME and. at. (2017). Association of Marijuana Use with Accumbens Strong Core Response to Reward Anticipation. JAMA Psychiatry, 73 (8): pages 838-844.
        • Nobis, L .; Husain, M. (2018). Apathy in Alzheimer’s disease. Current opinion in behavioral science. 22: pages 7 to 13.
        • Radakovic, R .; Stephenson, L .; Colville, S .; Swingler, R .; Chandran, S .; Abrahams, S. (2016). Multidimensional Apathy in ALS: Validation of the Dimensional Apathy Scale. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. 87 (6): pages 663 to 669.

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