10 Ways To Snap Out Of Apathy

If there’s such a thing as a “belly-up” emotion, apathy fits the bill.

Apathy is actually defined as the absence of emotion.

It’s white noise. Dead air. You feel like a chunk of flavorless tofu. Not happy. Not sad. Not angry. And certainly not passionate.

You’ve probably heard people say they knew they were out of love when they no longer got angry. The relationship had flat-lined, love had disappeared, and it wasn’t worth the effort of anger anymore.

But what if life begins to feel that way?

What if everything you thought would ring your bell stares back at you with dead shark eyes?

What if all of those goals and habits you were going to achieve start to dissolve in importance and float away in the sea of your apathy?

Apathy is not an emotion to disregard. If you feel apathetic and have one ounce of up-and-at-em left in your antediluvian brain (that small piece that still compels you to stand staring blankly into the fridge looking for food) then use it to snap out of apathy.

Apathy is often the precursor to a full-blown depression. As life starts to feel boring and empty, your psyche might decide to jazz things up a bit by sending you spiraling into a dark hole. If you don’t know the signs of depression, get familiar with them and get treatment if you notice them.

Before depression really slams you, you may find your feet sinking in the quicksand of apathy. Apathy comes on slowly.

You progressively feel less and less engaged and excited about life until one morning you think,”If I have to get up and do this same thing again today I’m going to chew my foot off.” A one-footed pessimist is not an attractive thing.

Here are some signs you might be sinking into a state of apathy:

  • Your regular interests and hobbies don’t feel interesting or fun anymore;
  • You feel very unmotivated at work and your work performance starts to slip;
  • Every time you think of acting on a goal or possible interest, you quickly lose steam;
  • You allow yourself to spend a lot of time in front of the TV, surfing the net, shopping, or playing video games;
  • You feel frustrated or embarrassed being around friends who have something interesting going on in their lives or you avoid them altogether;
  • You fill your life with mindless tasks and busy work to keep from having to figure out what you really want in life;
  • You’re hearing comments from family and friends trying to “help you” get motivated;
  • You are reading lots of self-help books without applying any of the help;
  • You’re eating too much and exercising too little.

If you recognize yourself in any of these descriptions, I implore you not to allow apathy to infect your life to the point that you are completely frozen and unable to cope. Apathy is insidious, and if you don’t fight against it, it will surely infect you completely.

Apathy also fosters secondary emotions like shame, guilt, self-loathing, and low self-esteem. And that creates the slippery slide toward depression. So while you still have your wits about you, focus your remaining energy like a laser on snapping out of apathy.

Here are 10 ways to change if you’re an apathetic person.

1. Start with perspective

Apathy is a temporary state of being. It doesn’t define you. You aren’t lazy, passionless, stupid, boring, unmotivated, or any other label you give yourself while you feel apathetic.

Apathy doesn’t define who you are, just how you feel right now. You won’t feel this way forever.

Woman thinking, apathetic person

2. Define the cause

If you can, figure out the trigger or cause of your apathy. Was there an event that finally took the wind out of your sail?

Do you feel hopeless about something big in your life? Is there a pattern of negative thinking that is keeping you down?

Think deeply about why you are feeling apathetic and if there is any discernible cause. There may not be, but if there is, it’s important to know.

Related: The Problem With Having Too Much Empathy For Others

3. Change the things you can

If you do recognize a cause or trigger for your apathy, is there anything that can be done about it?What adjustments can you make or actions you might take to remove or mitigate the cause?

Write these down and begin brainstorming real ways to take action on them. Just taking control of small pieces of the cause or trigger will afford you a sense of control over your life, which can help break up apathy.

4. Create small disturbances

Whether or not you know the cause for your apathy, start creating small disturbances in your life and schedule. Shake things up a bit. Do things in a different order in the morning.

Go in earlier to work. Talk to a new person. Just break out of your regular routine. Your daily routine, though sometimes comforting, can also trap you in apathy and boredom.

5. Create a mood

Put yourself in situations and with people where you feel the most energized as often as possible. Is there a room in your house that has the most “positive energy” for you? Spend time in that room.

woman on bed with books everywhere apathetic person

Does music make you feel happier? Then play more music. Are there people who lift your spirits, make you laugh, and draw out the best in you? Then purposefully spend time with those people.

Mindfully put yourself in environments that don’t feed your apathy.

6. List past joys

Sit down and think about everything in your past that made you come alive with excitement and enthusiasm. List situations and events both in your personal and professional life.

Then next to each situation, list the specific elements of those situations that fostered the good feelings. For example, if it was a work project, you might list that it made you feel valued; it involved creativity; it created collaboration.

Tease out the feelings and values these events fostered that made you feel so good.

Related: How Finding Meaning In Life Will Change You Forever

7. Find the low-hanging fruit

Look at your life right now to see where you might be overlooking situations that could foster those same feelings and values. They might be in your current work, lifestyle, or relationships.

See if there are places you might focus a bit more attention and time to reignite feelings of engagement and motivation, or at least lessen the apathy.

8. Pick one thing

If you’ve been toying with ideas and interests, but you aren’t sure which one you should pursue or invest time in (hence your apathy), then match them to the values and feelings you outlined in point #6.

Which of these interests have the most potential to create the same engagement and enthusiasm you felt in the past?

If you still aren’t completely sure, that’s OK. We’re rarely “completely” sure about anything. Just pick one to focus on for a while.

woman with camera, apathetic person

9. Break it down

Since you’re feeling apathetic, you won’t have much energy to devote to tackling a big, multi-layered project, especially if you aren’t sure it’s what you want to pursue for the long term anyway.

So break down the interest into the smallest possible action steps that are manageable but slightly challenging. If the goal is to write a book for example, then give yourself the goal of writing for five minutes every day or write one paragraph a day, making it the best paragraph you can write.

Take small, manageable, forward-moving, slightly challenging actions every day. Then commit to doing these actions every day for 6 weeks.

10. Learn about habits

Snapping out of apathy involves forcing change. You force it in well-considered, but small and manageable increments.

As you begin to practice this change and get more proficient and disciplined, you will feel better about yourself and will have more energy and enthusiasm for what you are doing — especially if it’s something that supports your values, aptitudes, and interests.

Making change is basically creating a series of new habits. Forming habits involves a special skill set that is easy but important to understand.

Many people fail at creating habits because they don’t understand the simple method for making habits stick. Learn the method and you will have the tools to snap out of apathy.

18 thoughts on “10 Ways To Snap Out Of Apathy”

  1. HI, a very interesting topic, not all writers come up with apathy and this one really needs our attention, some people might be going through this unknowingly. Thanks for the tips. Great Read.

    • Hi Shyla,
      You may be depressed if you are sleeping all day. Be sure you talk with your doctor about this symptom and any other signs of depression that might be lasting for more than a few weeks.

  2. Yep, I’m so apathetic that I stopped at #4. If I could care to create little disturbances, then I wouldn’t be apathetic. The first half of the article was enlightening but apathetics by definition don’t care to create the disturbances necessary. It’s the never ending loop many of us can’t break out of without some external force.

    • Chris, try to create just the smallest disturbances, even if you aren’t motivated. If you need an outside force, find an accountability partner and start really, really small.

  3. My house is a dirty mess. I don’t want to leave the house. I sit and watch tv all day and night. I have no interest in anything. I don’t care to talk to anyone but will talk to my husband on my occasional trips downstairs. I feel like I am just a lazy blob. I’m not depressed. I’m not Anything.

    • Hi Debi,
      I think you are depressed — everything you’ve listed sounds like depression. Go back to your doctor to talk about how you feel. See if he or she can adjust or change your medication. Also, consider talk therapy. A combination of medication and therapy has been shown to be the most effective with depression. Don’t accept this state of being as your norm. If you only take one action, make a call to your doctor and go.

    • Debi. We go into a doc .. tell them what is wrong or how we are feeling. They give you a medicine to help. But if we don’t let them know that the medicine has not changed anything, then the doc. will not take any time to see how you are doing, etc. We have to step up and take charge of our lives. We are the only ones responsible for them. No one can make us happy or fulfill our lives with joy and love. Only we can. How, by our choices. (I am really learning that this past year). I either can get up, put on the same old ‘clothes’ from yesterday (the ones with the attitude of “I am worth nothing. I will never amount to anything. Anger and hate over a fight I had with someone. Frustration with myself & my choices.etc. Or, I can make the choice to ask Jesus to walk with me today, as I put on clean clothes. The ones where I put a smile on my face. The ones that say, Open the curtains. Make the bed. Put on shoes. Wash my face. Put on lipstick. And force myself to go downstairs and look out of a window at nature, with a fresh cup of coffee. Those are all small steps, but they break the old habits and the lies we have allowed to come into our minds and control it. Tell the doc. your meds are not helping you. He might either change the brand or the dose or add another one that will help ‘push’ you over that hump. Don’t come up with excuses of not doing something (I have so many times before). You are just continuing to lie to yourself. God gave you great value to use in this world. Don’t allow the world to tell you who you are. The Bible says you are a daughter to the Most High God. You are of great value to Him. You are more precious than gold or diamonds. He gave you His heart of love and He longs to help you share it with others. You can do this… one small step and the first one is to get out of the bed and open the curtains. Then get dressed in street clothes. Two steps down… the rest will be easier. Praying for you. Hugs

  4. Just told my fiance about my apathetic state. I explained it’s from sleep deprivation, CFIDS & FM! He wasn’t understanding it very well. He told me “well, I sure am glad you aren’t apathetic with me!” New’s flash, “I’m empty, tired, & sick…this is why I’m this way!” I think it’s like burnout, or depression, and we can’t just snap out of it. It doesn’t last forever. It’s much like a feeling of sadness, and emptiness, etc….I don’t have to see a Dr, because over the many years they haven’t been able to help anyway (and they can’t cure CFIDS & FM), nor can a therapist. This comes & goes much like CFIDS, it waxes & wanes, yet there is no known cure. I can live with it, I’ve got to….I do feel alone, if only others could understand and know I’m not making myself feel this way it just is, and that’s okay for now. Living with apathy is one thing, dealing with it with others that can’t understand is just more of a burden on my shoulders!

  5. Hello, I feel i’m struggling with apathy but unsure what to do. I work as a live in care but my disabled client literally exists in his own room playing games 24/7 while i wait out side to serve him. I have about 3 hours work in the day. I have slipped into abject misery and cant be bothered to do anything.
    I had been recovering from a bout of psychosis over 3 year and care work was away to do something easy. Before that I had been teaching English abroad in China and Prague.
    I could make the leap back but cant seem to make the move to say take out a loan to give me a buffer while I set myself up again. I could also rent out a flat in Chester and ‘settle down’ as I am getting tired of moving but I am unsure whether I am apathetic or just waiting. I am 50 now and thoughts toward retiring and old age.Its so boring. Ive been thinking of consulting a counsellor.

  6. I’ve been bored the last few days, nothing interests me at all. I tried to look everywhere but there is nothing I enjoy doing. It’s summer vacation and it’s the first time I feel like this, what can I do to solve what I’m going through?
    I asked my friends and relatives, they gave me suggestions but still nothing interests me. I really need help

  7. I am a Brooklynite in New York City. My wife as been apathetic for 7 years.
    I do the shopping, cleaning the house the best that I can. I continue to pay the bills.
    My wife she does not feel like doing anything, except eat and sleep the whole day.
    It took 3 years for the doctors to figure out that it was not depression, as they tried many variety of drugs to no avail.
    Now we found out that she is apathetic. She is going to Neurologist, Psychiatrist and Therapy. Will this bring my wife back eventually?

  8. Yes, I now know what my problem is, however, I’m so apathetic at the moment I cannot even reply properly to this. But thank you for a good article. I shall return to it.


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