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How to overcome apathy? 6 practical tips

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

But of course, there are always intermediate situations, in which this emotional state is felt as a Unemployment problem, at the same time, perhaps it is not so problematic as to assist Psychology professionals. Taking this into account, here we will see a series of tips to know how to overcome apathy by introducing new habits in your life.

  • Related article: "Emotional psychology: main theories of emotion"

What do we understand by apathy?

As almost always happens with the concepts of the world of Psychology, there are several ways to define apathy, although they all have a series of common elements. To summarize, here we will say that apathy is a feeling characterized by

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the absence of sources of motivation and the low predisposition to focus the mind on emotionally stimulating aspects of life.

Thus, apathy is related to affective flattening, that is, the lack of easily identifiable emotions, and also with the tendency not to express spontaneously feelings through non-verbal language, and to not focus attention on specific aspects of the present, due to lack of interest in everything in general.

As I have anticipated before, apathy is not in itself a very bad thing, nor does it constitute 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 apathy, which is the total inability to feel enthusiasm or interest. This phenomenon occurs above all in psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, and also in dementia and other diseases linked to brain damage.

Apathy according to the Csikszentmihalyi flow model

Another way to understand what apathy is is to do it through the flow model devised by the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This researcher has developed an explanatory scheme that helps to understand the functioning of the emotional states of enthusiasm and involvement in tasks, closely linked to the 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 perform, on the one hand, and our level of skills involved in that kind of activity.

In this way, at the point in which that task to be carried out reaches the maximum point that we can reach successfully from our skills and knowledge, the state of flow appears, which leads us to direct all our attention towards that challenge that we are approaching and we are flooded with a sensation of excitement and well-being, to the point that in many cases we lose consciousness. notion of time.

Well then; According to Csikszentmihalyi, apathy can be understood as the opposite of the flow state: the virtual absence of a state of mental stimulation and the lack of illusion and enthusiasm to carry out any concrete action, what assails us when there is nothing that we interpret as a significant challenge for us or that requires us to put complex skills into practice. On the other hand, if the flow state is characterized, among other things, by being punctual and based on a delicate balance that can normally only be maintained continuously for a few minutes, apathy can last much longer, and if it is linked to a psychopathology, it is even frequent that it is the person's "default" mental state, and that it is maintained for months.

  • You may be interested in: "State of Flow (or Flow State): how to maximize your performance"

How to overcome apathy?

If you think you're suffering from too much apathy, follow these tips to increase your chances of moving past the pervasiveness of this psychological state in your life. Of course, in the event that you are clear that it causes you to suffer many problems and that it is affecting you more and more, it is important that you go to therapy as soon as possible,

1. Check that you sleep enough

Lack of sleep is an element capable of triggering affective and cognitive problems in the short term, just in a matter of a couple of days. Luckily, in the vast majority of cases, once you return to enjoying a normal sleep pattern, these problems go away.

In this way, if your way of sleeping is chaotic or insufficient, create a clear and detailed sleep schedule in which the moment is recorded. of each day of the week on which you will go to sleep, making sure that in no case do you sleep less than six and a half hours or more than eight hours and half. What's more: also include a brief mention of the main activity that you will have been doing just before going to bed (for example, reading a novel), and print the schedule so that you can hang it in a place in your home that you can easily see. frequency. This will make it easier for you to commit to this schedule.

2. avoid drugs

There are many drugs whose known effects include the phenomenon of making us less sensitive to what used to give us pleasure or arouse interest in us. These anhedonic properties have been observed, for example, in cannabis. In addition, almost all drugs make us more prone to developing psychopathologies associated with apathy or apathy.

  • You may be interested in: "Marijuana: 4 reasons to understand why it is not safe"

3. make sure you are eating well

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

It may also be that you feel apathy due to the fact that you suffer from anemia, a problem to some extent independent of what you have been eating. If you suspect this is the case, see a doctor as soon as possible.

4. Learn to better manage time

Many people feel apathy mainly because the responsibilities they must attend to are balled up.So they can't even entertain the idea of ​​doing something they like or are interested in, because they don't have time for it. In this sense, focusing on following a well-designed schedule that allows you to finish those tasks at an appropriate time can be the key to overcoming apathy.

To increase your chances of success, make sure you're not missing out on rest moments, which are critical to performing efficiently. Of course, be careful not to overdo it with them; If there are distractions that tend to tempt you too much and lead you to leave what you should do for later, limit your access to them before you start your day.

On the other hand, If you can't manage time, don't worry; it is not uncommon for someone who is feeling apathy to fail to commit themselves to a set of new habits. If you need it, go to the psychologist so that with professional help, you are able to transform your day to day.

5. Segment your objectives

It is easier to defeat apathy if you always have simple goals ahead of you and that you can achieve in a matter of minutes or a couple of hours. In this way, you will make it easier for your attention to remain focused and stop wandering. Once you have entered into this dynamic of interaction with the environment, it is likely that this energy will generalize to many other activities that you carry out., and that predisposes you to detect actions and projects that you are interested in carrying out.

6. Practice moderate exercise

Practicing exercise three or four times a week will help you maintain physical and mental activity that predisposes you to adopt a more active role in your life. Make sure that they are sessions of at least 35 minutes and that they do not force your muscles too much, to avoid injuries and pain that prevent you from following a frequent exercise routine.

Are you looking for psychological assistance?

Thomas Saint Cecilia

If you notice that you are going through a moment in your life in which you experience emotional or behavioral problems and seek 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 effective and adaptable to different needs. cover, and that allows adopting new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving that are more appropriate to face the challenges of life. You can count on my services in person at my office in Madrid, or through the online psychology service by video call. If you are interested in knowing more about how I work, go to this page where you will also find my contact information.

Bibliographic references:

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V. Massón, Barcelona.
  • Bortolon, C.; Macgregor, A.; Capdevielle, D.; Raffard, S. (2018). "Apathy in schizophrenia: A review of neuropsychological and neuroanatomical studies". Neuropsychology. 118 (Pt B): pp. 22 - 33.
  • Levi, R. & Dubois, B. (2006). Apathy and the functional anatomy of the prefrontal cortex-basal ganglia circuits. cereb. Cortex; 16(7): p. 916 - 928.
  • Martz, M.E. et. to the. (2017). Association of Marijuana Use With Blunted Nucleus Accumbens Response to Reward Anticipation. JAMA Psychiatry, 73(8): pp. 838 - 844.
  • Nobis, L.; Husayn, M. (2018). Apathy in Alzheimer's disease. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. 22:pp. 7 - 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 & Psychiatry. 87(6): p. 663 - 669.
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