Self-Care for When You Don’t Care

Most of us have moments in our lives when everything is just too much to take.

At those moments, life is overwhelming and thought is exhausting. Our feelings become numb–all feelings except for one, that is.

Which one is that?

The one that screams, “I DON’T CARE!”

At such times, you may remember all the advice you have read about how to be organized and productive and what to do to live mindfully and with motivation. But every shred of that advice seems too difficult to take, and implementing it feels futile.

You may also think about all the tasks that are waiting for you to complete, all the people who are dependent on you, all the responsibilities requiring your attention. But to your mind, those tasks, those people, and those responsibilities can just go their own way. Because you don’t care.

This is a terrible state of mind to be in, and if you are there, I want to give you a hug and take all your burdens off your shoulders. But while I can’t actually do that, I can show you some things you can do to and for yourself to help yourself feel better.

1. Realize it’s okay to have needs.

So often we get into this state because we burn out, which means we aren’t taking care of ourselves; we aren’t acknowledging and fulfilling our needs.

But if we can reconcile ourselves to the fact that we are not superior to other people and that we do in fact require some special care, we can begin to heal this jaded feeling.

And if you don’t realize it’s okay to have needs, the rest of these suggestions are useless.

2. Take care of your body.

Get sleep.

I was going to say “get plenty of sleep,” but there are many of us, especially mamas, who just can’t get the sleep we want.

However, getting some sleep–getting the maximum amount of sleep you can–will go a long way toward dissolving the low feelings that you have. Sleep will heal your mind as well as your body, and you are doing yourself no favors when you deprive yourself of this great benefit.

Find a small way to pamper yourself.

I’m a big proponent of the idea that pampering and self-care are not synonymous. However, I do believe that pampering can be a part of self-care.

We need to be gentle to ourselves some of the time, and when you are to the point of not caring, you need extra tenderness.

So while avoiding completely selfish indulgence, come up with something that will fill a little hole in your heart, whether it be a cup of coffee or tea, some fuzzy socks, a soft blanket, a small piece of chocolate, or something else.

We’re not talking about the full-blown bubble-bath-with-scented-candles thing here. We’re talking about something little to show yourself you do care after all.

3. Take care of your mind.

Do something that will completely shift your focus.

If you can temporarily take yourself out of the mental path in which you have been running, you will be better able to handle everything when you return to it. The best thing you can do is some kind of leisure activity, such as reading a light novel, taking a walk, or listening to some music.

If, however, this is not possible, try starting a new activity or doing the old ones in a new way. When you are at work, for example, you can’t necessarily drop your responsibilities, so change up the routine. Rearrange your desk, work on a different project, try a new teaching technique–even play with the order in which you do things.

Just do something different so that you can think about it instead of the same old mental mess.

Talk to someone.

I don’t mean venting, although you definitely need to do that too.

I mean having some good, old-fashioned communication. It could be a conversation with your best friend, a session with your mom on the phone, a friendly exchange with the cashier at the grocery store, anything.

Sympathetic human contact will take us out of ourselves and help us to focus on others.

4. Take care of your emotions: let it out.

Journal.

When you don’t care, it can be helpful to let out these feelings on paper.

It doesn’t matter how gracefully you express yourself or if you can think of nothing to say. If you just want to write, “I don’t care,” over and over again, great.

But as you write, try to envision yourself letting go of the feelings. Picture them as objects that are coming out of you physically in words. And as the words come out, imagine the feelings are leaving you. This is a little trick I learned from a therapist once, and it actually works.

Vent to someone.

Journaling may not be for everyone. Sometimes writing things out makes some people feel worse. If this is you, try talking to a friend.

A true friend will be glad to listen. Just ask him or her to be an ear for a little while, and then pour it out. The friend may or may not have advice, but that is not important. What we are focusing on is getting the emotions outside of you.

And if you can do all of these things, you will feel at least a little better. You will be taking care of your legitimate needs, which will make you a healthier and happier person.

Of course, having done these things to relieve your misery, you will have to maintain a program of self-care in order to keep it from returning. That is, however, a subject for another post. In the meantime, tell us what you do to take care of yourself. Do you ever get into the I-don’t-care rut? If so, how do you get out of it?

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