Feeling nothing can sometimes be harder than feeling intensely one way or the other. Just feeling kinda.. meh.. can be a tough one to deal with. But it’s something that comes up all the time. Depression can rob you of joy, and leave you feeling like.. you’re not feeling anything. It’s an odd one to try to explain to someone. If you feel numb: you’re not alone. And there are things that you can try, to help get you through in a positive way.
I guess I should point out here: this post is about feeling emotionally numb. If you’ve got a physical numbness in your body, that’s definitely worth contacting a doctor about!
Emotional numbness in itself is a coping mechanism. It’s kinda your body/brain’s way of saying “Woah now. I can’t handle all this stress right now. I’m gonna hide til it all blows over!”. The trouble is, that then leads to you not actually processing & dealing with the tricky situations and emotions that come with them. Which means they all build up, and can get super overwhelming. So your body/brain decides it can’t handle all that stress right now, so it builds up, so you feel overwhelmed, so your brain can’t handle it, so it builds up.. and so on. It’s a vicious cycle.
So what we really need is a chance to explore and express our emotions in a healthy way. Finding & using coping techniques to deal with tricky situations before they have a chance to build up and send your body into shutdown mode. So in general, check out the Things to Try page to look for some ideas of stuff that might help you deal with whatever situations you’re facing.
But if you feel numb right now, these are a handful of ideas to try that might get you through.
Going straight in with a classic here. You ever taken a big ole bite out of a lemon? Or an onion? How about ginger? Possibly not, tbf. But that’s partly cuz they’re such intense tastes that your mouth goes “woooooah!” whenever you taste it. So if you feel numb, this is certainly a way to feel an intense sensation in your mouth!
Have you ever been happily in the shower and then suddenly the water goes cold for some reason? It’s quite the shock to the system! It literally makes me leap in the air (and hope that it goes hot again!). But you can harness the power of that cold shock to help snap you out of feeling numb – even if it’s just for a minute. Maybe try just turning the shower cold yourself for a few seconds at the end of a regular shower. If you wanted to dive a bit deeper, have a read into the Wim Hof method! Wim is this Dutch dude who’s spent a lot of time in very cold places. He reckons that the cold can burn fat, boost your immune system, help you sleep better, reduce inflammation and enhance nature’s own mood boosters. Sounds good. But it might be a while til we’re sat outside meditating in the snow. We’ll let the man himself explain his methods in the video below!
Kinda related to the cold showers, in terms of using the cold to give you an intense feeling. But if you feel numb, and you’re using self-harm to try and feel something, you can use ice cubes as a kind of harm reduction. It’s still kinda painful to hold ice cubes, but not in a harmful way. You could even try running ice cubes over an area where you might usually self-harm. This one’s not particularly a long term solution, but if you’re looking to get past self-harm, this could be a good first step.
I know, I know. We keep on banging on about exercise (it’s actually one we suggested in our list of Things to Try if You Feel Angry post!) but it’s genuinely really good for ya! We get it. If you’re feeling numb the last thing you’re probably thinking of is pumping iron or going for a run. But it doesn’t need to be as intense as that. Just getting up and going for a brisk walk for 10 minutes can get the endorphins going in your brain. But if you do want to go a little deeper with it, focusing on feeling your muscles working as you do something like lift weights or run a long distance, can be a way to acknowledge feeling something if you feel numb.
Here’s a (super old…!) interview with WWE NXT Superstar Mark Andrews, talking about physical activity & how hitting the gym helps him!
No, not in a “go to your room” kinda way. We’re on about engaging your senses, and being mindful of your surroundings. This is something that Chloë shared with us in a post about dissociation. Hit the button below to give it a read!
If you feel numb, it might be helpful to try and engage each of your senses individually, using a technique we love called Grounding 5-4-3-2-1. Where you identify:
5 things you can see
4 things you can touch
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste
This can just make you aware of your surroundings, and how your body is reacting to them. This in turn can help reset your brain, and open you up to experiencing other feelings.
There are a bunch of apps that might help with this too so make sure you check out the R E S O U R C E S section of the site.
These are just a couple of ideas that might help, and that have helped people in the past. If you feel numb at the moment, it’s worth giving them a try. But it’s also important to remember that one size doesn’t fit all, and you’ve gotta find what’s going to work for you.
Remember: you are worthwhile, and you deserve the very best out of life, you wonderful human being.
If you found this – or anything we do – helpful, please consider supporting us by picking up some of our Merch With a Message!