6 Things to Do When You Feel Detached From Life
Feeling detached, numb, disconnected, and way less in love with life than you were a year ago? Trust me, you’re not alone.
There’s no pressure to act on the feeling (it’s just as healthy to let it fade away) but if you’re craving a game plan, here are the six tips I like to implement in an effort to move past it.
One of my favourite self-care activities is a healthy reflection.
Whether that means pulling out my journal and checking in with how I’m doing or having deep chats over a glass of wine with my partner, reflection is one of those self-care habits that I rarely remember to stick to, but that always leaves me with a firmer grasp on reality.
And not to be a total bummer, but last weekend’s reflection centred mainly on how detached I’ve been feeling from reality lately.
Back in December, I read an Instagram story that stopped me in my tracks and has haunted me to this day:
“I feel like a shell of the person I used to be.”
Mid-Lockdown 3.0, I know so many of us relate to that sentiment.
Everything in life feels a little diluted right now, like the last dregs of shampoo swishing around in the bottle.
So it’s no wonder that for many of us (myself, and a good few friends I’ve spoken to lately) our very selves feel diluted. We feel less vibrant, less full, less zesty than we used to be. Less motivated, less brave, less ambitious, less willing to take chances or learn new things.
Less than we were before.
And so, we detach ourselves from the world around us.
We disconnect from the people we love. We look right through ourselves when we catch a glimpse of our own reflection. We construct a protective shell around ourselves, cocooning ourselves from the depth of our emotions.
Because quite frankly, most of these emotions are not that pleasant.
Does any of that ring a bell?
If you’ve been feeling this way too, first of all, let me assure you that this feeling is totally normal and valid (and 10000% understandable given the circumstances).
That’s just what happens when you put a vibrant, full, zesty person in an endless spin cycle of Groundhog Day monotony. It doesn’t make you lazy, unmotivated, untalented, boring, or any other nasty things your inner monologue might be trying to convince you of.
It makes you human.
Secondly, no matter how rough it may feel right now, this feeling will pass with time. And I know that even though we all know that’s true, I also know that it’s the hardest thing to hear when you enjoy having some semblance of control over your life (hi, that’s me).
It can be incredibly comforting to have a plan — even a very loosely woven one.
That’s why I’ve put together a 6-step reconnection kit for myself that I’m sharing with you today.
Of course, you don’t have to take any action steps to work through this feeling — but these steps are always here for you in case you want them.
1. Reconnect with your physical self
It’s really no wonder so many of us feel detached from our lives when life has quickly been reduced to all things digital.
Zoom calls have replaced meetings and conversations, and screens of all sizes have replaced most forms of escapism and entertainment. Whether we want to or not, we spend the vast majority of our days flicking between apps and tabs, distancing ourselves from the physical world.
These days, we have to find ways to actively reconnect with our physical bodies — to silence the noise, unplug, tune back into sensation, and get moving. This is especially important when you’re feeling detached and disconnected from your sense of self.
Movement can help you to root back into your body and revive the sense of vitality that you’ve been missing. And this doesn’t have to mean heavy exercise either. You can move in any way you like — from having a solo dance party in your bedroom to taking a hike around your local area or stretching for 10 minutes.
Last February, I wrote a blog post all about reconnecting with your body, and it feels even more needed today than it did then. You can check it out here.
2. Root into your memories, but don’t let them consume you
How many of us are mourning the loss of our pre-pandemic selves right about now?
Wallowing for hours on end about the way life used to be, the things we used to do and the people we used to see?
Yeah, me too. But there comes a point where memories start holding us back from living our life as it is right now. Instead of looking back fondly, we stay stuck in the past and stop looking reality in the eye.
My advice? If you’re in the mood to reminisce, it’s best to look waaaay further back.
Think about your happiest childhood memories. Your silliest teenage stories. Special moments that connected you with the loved ones in your life right now.
Root into the memories that feel real. Remember all of the details — the colours, the sensations, the way you felt in the moment. And don’t just keep these memories to yourself. Instead, make them a shared activity.
Share them with your partner, friends and family. Laugh at old pictures together, and reminisce — even if it’s over Zoom. It’s a whole lot more meaningful than doing it alone, and you’ll make new memories while you’re at it.
3. Give yourself a passion project
It’s difficult to stay excited about the day-to-day, right? And it can feel even harder to care about goals that feel far off in the distance.
Setting yourself a practical passion project — something completely detached from your work or studies — can be a great way to feel excited about something (anything!) again.
This can mean starting Couch to 5K, doing a difficult puzzle, teaching yourself to watercolour or play the guitar, learning to skip rope like the cool kids on TikTok, or colour-coordinating your bookshelf. The point is to do something hands-on with a clear intention in mind.
Even if you couldn’t care less about it when you’re first getting started, you’ll likely get really into it in no time. There’s a reason why quarantine hobbies are so popular — they keep you focused and add much-needed colour to your everyday.
If you’re stuck for inspiration, why not get a free trial of Skillshare and test out a brand new hobby for a week or two? You might find yourself with a newfound passion for floral arrangements or creative writing — and you can thank me later.
4. Romanticise your life
Whether you feel like it or not, you are the main character of your life.
Making a big deal out of every little thing you do and treating your life like your personal rose-tinted romcom might seem a bit cheesy, but it’s so uplifting! Plus, it’ll help you tap into more precious moments instead of watching them slide on by.
Having your morning coffee? Make space to properly enjoy every sip. Taking a shower? Make it a self-care experience! Driving down to the supermarket? Pretend you’re in a music video like it’s the 2000s again.
There’s nothing wrong with being a little bit extra — especially if it makes you feel better and more rooted in the present moment.
5. Immerse yourself in things that feel vivid and real
This sounds deeper than it actually is, so let me back up for a sec.
I’ve been watching a lot of comfort TV over the last few months (I’m currently watching a rerun of The Office). And obviously, there’s nothing wrong with that. There are so many situations in life where comfort TV is the best remedy!
But one thing about our fave comfort shows (Friends, Parks & Rec etc) is that they tend to be set in one small environment — like a dull office building. And when everything IRL feels monotonous, adding another monotonous environment into the mix can be…less than stimulating.
So here’s the easiest possible solution: add something new to your entertainment mix. When I’m feeling detached and uprooted, I seek out movies with vibrant, vivid colour palettes, gorgeous landscapes and some sort of inspiring message. (Yes, that means I’ve watched Eat, Pray, Love at least 6 times.)
I also enjoy reading books that take me outside of myself and into very different worlds. Some of my favourites include Where the Crawdads Sing, Circe and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Or any good romcom really!
6. Reflect on who you really, truly are
Are we ending on a cheesy note? Yeah, probably. But this is probably the most helpful advice of the bunch if you’ve been feeling uprooted, detached or flat.
The advice is simple: sit down with yourself and think about who you really are.
It might feel completely silly at first, but stick with it. Grab a pen and a notebook, and make the real you come to life on the page in front of you.
List out your qualities. All your hobbies over the years. Your core beliefs. Your deep-rooted values. Your love languages. The things you like about yourself. The music you love. The things you enjoy doing, and the things you don’t. The qualities you look for in a friend or a partner.
List all the things and fundamental experiences that have shaped who you are today.
And if you need a dose of instant inspiration? Take a personality quiz. Read up on your enneagram or your Myers-Briggs personality type. The results don’t define the real you, but they are bound to bring some thoughts to the surface.
Trust me — reflecting on your true self is one of the most self-affirming self-care activities out there. You already know who you are — but when you’re feeling detached, it’s helpful to have a reminder handy.
Wherever these words found you today, I hope you found some comfort in them. Remember that even though you might be feeling disconnected, flat or detached right now, this feeling (or lack thereof) will not last forever.
You are still the same beautiful, caring, generous you.
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