Do you ever have days or longer periods where your emotions seem empty or flat? Are you worried because this emotional void or numbness has lingered even after you achieved sobriety? This sensation is called emotional flatness, and you are not alone. Many recovering individuals struggle with emotional flatness. You may feel this way because addiction is a brain disease impacting your emotions, and your brain needs time to heal. With time and persistence, you can feel and express your emotions again.
Why Do My Emotions Feel Flat?
Emotional flatness may feel like a disconnection from the world and people around you. It can be like a depressive state, but unlike depression, it may just seem like nothing excites or bothers you. It is difficult to get happy, sad, or angry. You just feel disconnected from your own emotions.
This dissociation happens because the brain still suffers from the negative impact of substances. Your limbic system becomes flooded with stress hormones during active addiction and even throughout treatment. This area of the brain usually deals with emotional regulation and memory.
Putting in the hard work of implementing a strict regimen through an intensive treatment program can also contribute to numbness. Maybe you have become exhausted by the changes you’ve made. Perhaps you have overlooked methods of relaxation. Keeping up the activities that keep you sober is important, but so is rest if you want to get rid of emotional flatness.
Is Emotional Flatness a Mental Illness?
Unlike chronic depression or anxiety disorders that frequently co-occur in recovery, emotional flatness does not necessarily indicate a mental illness. This experience can be temporary and transitional. As you progress in coping with stress, your brain can heal better and normalize emotional regulation again.
In some situations, emotional numbness can accompany certain mental illnesses, such as dissociative disorders related to a history of trauma. If this condition lingers and worsens, check in with mental health professionals and get a diagnosis.
How Do I Improve When Feeling Flat?
When you feel emotionally numb, you may not be interested in doing anything. It is okay to make yourself comfortable and relax when you get to this point. Sometimes you just need rest to regain your energy and emotional capacity. Alternatively, think about stimulating your sensory experiences by putting on perfume or makeup, taking a hot bath, or cooking a fragrant meal. Anything that brightens up your day helps.
Emotional numbness may linger if you have been isolated and inactive for too long. Think of ways to stay active. Any physical movement can help you get out of your head and into your body. Other mind-body connection practices include gardening and yoga.
Who Should I Talk to About Emotional Flatness?
Lack of social interaction may contribute to lingering emotional flatness. Maybe it is time to pick up the phone and call a friend to chat. If you have a pet, spend time playing with and petting them. The bonding between good friends, including animals, can help the brain heal by releasing oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle hormone.”
If you have the habit of bottling up emotions, consider talking with a therapist. There are many online and in-person options. Support groups are also a good option.
How Should I Relax When I Feel Flat?
Flatness does not mean that you are relaxed. It is a symptom of stress. Build more time in your day for relaxation through meditation, yoga, or simple breathing exercises. Know that emotional flatness is the brain’s protection mechanism when feeling overwhelmed. The more you relax, the better your brain will heal from emotional stress.
When looking for ways to relax, make sure that you avoid things that may increase emotional stress. Examples include emotional books and movies, risky behaviors, and toxic relationships. These may end up making you feel worse. Instead, list a few things that give you pleasure and ease. This list might include gardening, cooking, or chatting with friends. Invest more time into these activities that provide you with joy, and you may begin to feel the spark of emotion again.
What Support Resources Can Help With Emotional Flatness?
There are many additional resources to consider. For example, if you are an animal lover, you can spend more time with animals or pets. They are great sources of emotional support. If you have musical skills, join a music therapy program or get together with others to make music. Adventure therapy can be a great way to expand your world and emotional horizons. Emotional flatness can be improved by adding creative and sensory experiences to your routine.
Do not expect any quick fixes. Given time and persistence, your brain can heal, and you may notice the changes. Celebrate your progress, and never stop yourself from healthily expressing emotions.
Emotional wellness is an essential indicator of your recovery progress. Lingering emotional flatness deserves further support. Be proactive in seeking advice from mental health professionals. With time and persistence, the brain can heal, and its emotional regulation functions can stabilize. You can embrace a child-like awe with a colorful world of emotions.
Recovering individuals who experience emotional flatness or emotional numbness may sense that the world around them seems superficial or unreal. They feel unable to connect with their environment and other people. Although emotional numbness is not a mental health disorder, it can be a symptom of the brain suffering from addiction and other mental illnesses. To improve all-around wellness, Laguna Shores Recovery offers treatment plans such as detox, medication, 12-Step groups, and relationship skills coaching, all informed by scientific research. We also provide an outpatient program to support you in achieving long-term health. Your emotional wellness matters because it is an essential part of relapse prevention. We help you recover. Call (866) 774-1532 today.