Apathy can stem from clinical depression, but it happens to everyone to some extent. People’s interests, habits, and personalities change; as they do, we can become bored with the things that used to interest us. Apathy is a sign that it’s time to make a change; however, apathy sometimes stops us from making those changes.
Leon F. Seltzer Ph.D. at PsychologyToday wrote a lengthy article about apathy, including some important and useful tips for getting the excitement and feeling back into your life. Keep this advice in mind when you feel yourself stuck in an emotional rut.
1. Try to find the source of your apathy. What might seem like a lack of feeling might actually come from a very strong feeling somewhere in your core. Are you feeling guilty about something? Do you feel like you don’t deserve happiness? Have you staked your happiness on some goal you can’t possibly attain? If you can discover a feeling at the root of your emotion, find ways to challenge it.
2. Change up your routine. Habits tend to calcify when we stay in one living situation for a long time. Think of the things you do the same way every day, or every week. Start with your food habits, your exercise routine, and the routes you take to work. Change the little things, and you might shake loose some of the big things that have stalled in your life as well.
3. Look to the past. Think of times when you were feeling better. What did you stop doing? Is there a friend you want to reconnect with? A hobby you want to pick back up? Try something from a nostalgic period in your life and see what feelings it stirs up. At the same time, don’t only look backwards; make sure you’re thinking of your future as well.
4. Stay in the now. The big problem with vowing to “make changes in your life,” in the abstract, is that those changes will stay in the abstract. Instead, think of what you can do at this very moment that won’t bore you. If the TV’s boring you, turn it off. If Facebook is boring you, close out of it. If you feel stuck in your house, go for a walk. Sometimes this is more difficult than it sounds, but if you can get past your own inertia, it can be worth it.
5. See a therapist. If little changes aren’t working, and big changes are beyond your reach, professional help is available. Sometimes, what seems like boredom is actually anhedonia brought on by depression. Anhedonia–an inability to feel pleasure–is one of the main diagnostic criteria for depression. This is an appropriate thing to talk to your doctor about, or to seek a therapist for. You deserve to feel excited about your life.