So What is Numbing?
Have you ever had something important you know you should be doing. Maybe a specific action you need to take but instead you decide to sit in front of the TV, play video games, maybe create some drama, eat a pile of unhealthy snacks or just stare at the ceiling.
Welcome to your Numbing strategy. At one point or another, we have all probably used these strategies to feel better and to distract us from Life. The problem is, for some people, these strategies become their go-to action when the going gets tough. Now I'm not talking about relaxing, a hobby or taking a break. Numbing is when you truly know you are just doing it to provide a distraction from life and what you should be doing.
Numbing will usually occur when you are at a low point in Life, things are tough, you feel incapable and overwhelmed. It becomes too much and you need an escape. Maybe you will simply wander in circles, confused with your own thoughts and unsure what your next step should be. At this stage your mind is seeking a distraction and most likely an unhealthy one.
These moments will usually occur immediately after a specific event. There is most likely a trigger that sets it off and if you dont recognise it early, you can quickly spiral downhill from there. That trigger may be study for an exam, looking at online dating sites, seeing yourself in the mirror or getting another bill in the mail. Triggers are numerous and varied and are probably easiest to recognise if you back-track from your numbing strategy. Most people recognise when this occurs, but if your mind is flat, you can feel powerless to stop. The reason why numbing strategies are usually negative, is because your mind wants a quick fix, a quick solution to feel better. Your body is craving positive neurochemicals to feel better and what better way to get them, then to eat some chocolate, level up on some video game, create some drama that gives your life meaning or re-watch your favourite team play. Numbing strategies are usually fast and require little effort.
Although Numbing can make you feel better and be a welcome distraction, it will more often than not lead to you feeling more depressed and hollow than before. The worst thing is, you will have wasted more time that you could have used to be productive.
So what strategies can you employ to avoid numbing?
1. Awareness. Being aware of when this occurs, what your trigger is and what your numbing strategy is, is usually enough to break the pattern before it starts again.
2. Have a few go-to video clips or songs that make you feel better, empowered and positive. A positive message or song that connects to you individually will work best.
3. Get rid of your Numbing strategy. Pack up the X-box, unplug the TV, dont buy the chocolates. If you dont have access to your usual device or strategy, it may buy you enough time to recognise whats happening.
4. Seek support. This would be best to be a trusted friend who is always positive and supportive or if you are becoming seriously depressed, a recognised health professional.
5. Replace your usual strategies with more positive ones such as, exercise, reading, helping others who are less fortunate (which can really help you gain perspective), engaging in your hobbies or just moving to another environment away from where it started.
6. Meditate, breathe and relax. refocus on who you are, know your goals are possible, be grateful for what you have and think forward in a positive manner.
7. It can be difficult when the trigger is an actual necessity, strategy or requirement to move you forward in life, such as study, online dating or job searching.
Maybe you are trying online dating and after searching for hours you get nowhere and start feeling horrible. Realise that searching for hours on on end is only making you feel worse. Instead, refine your search, be specific in what you want to achieve and set a much shorter time frame when searching online. Be sure to break up your time with breaks and relaxation.
The Worst case scenario- This is when you are struggling with many aspects of life, you dont fit into this world, you are helpless and life itself feels hopeless. This is the time to seek professional help or at least open up and get support from someone you trust. At this point you have probably surrounded yourself with numbing strategies in the form of distractions and bad habits. You are lost in life and find it easier to simply block it out. You have a few things happening in your life but for the most part, your life is empty and lacking meaning. Although you may think its fine to just lock it all away inside to cope, that is not a helpful strategy. Instead, take the chance to get professional help or support. The only thing I will say is, be selective. Find a professional who is well regarded and has a proven track record.
So be aware of your feelings and actions. Do you feel positive and are your actions helpful, or are they simply a distraction from life.