The art of not caring – Reducing stress to improve our health

June 24, 2019

Having lived with chronic pain from dystonia for almost 20 years, I spent most of that time focused on treating the physical symptoms. This has been very important and helpful, but for too long I neglected the impact of my emotional state, which was one of anger, sadness, grief, bitterness, and hatred for what my life had become. I lost my physical ability to do anything without blinding pain, so these are not unreasonable feelings. However, I let these feelings last way too long and take over my life. As a result, I was overly stressed which worsened my health.

When I began to resolve these emotions, which took years and is still a daily (lifetime) practice, it helped me better come to terms with my dystonia and pain, and life began to change. I began to practice mind calming activities such as meditation, breathing exercises, and visualization, as well as decluttering my life, removing toxicity, setting boundaries, respecting myself and my time more, not caring so much about things I have no control over, and learning how to let go and stop resisting what I didn’t like about life. This helped me learn to not care so much that I had dystonia and pain, which was probably the biggest thing that transformed my life and helped me create a new one.

Not caring so much about everything significantly increased my level of health and happiness. Some other things that help lower my stress and increase my happiness meter include not watching the news, avoiding politics and political conversations, not engaging in the lives of people who steal my energy, not caring what people think about the life I need to live to best manage my health, and letting go of guilt so I can engage in self-care activities that are so vital to my well-being.

It was amazing the changes that took place when I stopped caring and worrying so much about how I felt, what others thought, and not exposing myself to petty drama. Being focused on doing as well as I can with whatever challenge I may have on a particular day, whether it is related to my health or not, was the missing link for me to improve my physical and mental health. So, my newest affirmation is, “I don’t care. I choose to be happy.”

I don’t mean that I’m an uncaring person or without compassion. I am very much the opposite; I am a deeply passionate, very caring person. The problem is that sometimes I care too much about other people and things to my own detriment. I overextend my emotional attachment, which can be utterly exhausting. I know many of you can relate because I have conversations with people about this all the time.

The reason I chose the specific words, “I don’t care. I choose to be happy,” is to trick my mind. In other words, I use it to help slow down my overly caring mind to care at a more normal level where it doesn’t burn me out and cause emotional pain, which of course leads to more physical pain. I still care too much about certain things that it impacts my well-being, but I am getting better at not giving energy to areas that suck the life out of me. This phrase also helps me not ruminate about things as much.

If you are someone who is suffering from depression, you might want to be careful about using this phrase. However, if part of your depression comes from being disappointed by others, perhaps from giving so much of yourself and not getting much in return (in other words, you might be an “over-carer” like I described earlier), this might be an excellent motto or slogan for you to follow.

In the last few years, especially when working with coaching clients who have various health issues, I have become much more aware about the power of emotions and how much the mind and body are connected. So much so, that I don’t think we can reap the greatest benefit from our treatments and self-care, or enter a healing phase, if we are filled with anger, fear, hatred, jealousy, or anxiety, to name just a few intense emotions. And the source of these emotions often derive from caring too much about too many things that are often not that important. These emotions ramp up the chemical factory in the brain that create stress hormones that prohibit healing. For more about this, please see one of my other blogs called, The impact stress and emotions have on our health.

Please investigate your life to see where you are over-caring and probably over-exhausted. Stop putting your cares in those places so you can devote that energy to what truly matters. Life is short and time is precious, so use it wisely by caring about what is most important to you and be careful, for the sake of your health and well-being, that you don’t exhaust your energy in places it doesn’t belong.

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Tom Seaman is a Certified Professional Life Coach in the area of health and wellness, and author of the book, Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey, a comprehensive resource for anyone suffering with any life challenge. He is also a motivational speaker, chronic pain and dystonia awareness advocate, health blogger, and volunteers for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as a support group leader, for WEGO Health as a patient leader, and is a member and writer for Chronic Illness Bloggers Network. To learn more about Tom and get a copy of his book, go to Amazon.com or visit www.tomseamancoaching.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dystoniabook1 and Instagram.

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10 responses to “The art of not caring – Reducing stress to improve our health”

  1. Joan says:

    I never really considered the negative impact that my caring too much, especially for others and their problems, has on my health. Often, I find myself spending hours trying to resolve someone else’s issues only to learn that it really wasn’t an issue for them after all. This in turn, leaves me harboring resentful feelings toward them (as if they should have told me the moment they dismissed the problem from their mind) and also leaves me feeling angry at myself for wasting so much time and energy on trying to work out what I perceived to be their problem. The good news is that I am getting better at recognizing this before I allow my emotions to needlessly get tangled up and stressing out over nothing
    .

    • Tom Seaman says:

      Thank you for sharing that Joan. I think you described very clearly what a lot of people do and how they feel about it. It’s helpful to know that we are not alone with the same challenges.

  2. Evelyn says:

    Hi Tom, I have Cervical Dystonia but I have no time for it. Yes I live with pain but I personally don’t make a big deal with. I have high Empathy and put it into use daily taking care of Dental patients as I assist the Dentist 32 hours per week. I am often told how I have a happy and positive personality.
    My secret is make the most of everyday with love and laughter. Giving to others is so positive for me as I get so much positivity back. Most days of don’t even give my Dystonia a thought. Exercise is such an important part of my life and my brain, phyically and emotionally.
    I refuse to allow this condition to control me or my happiness like it used to.

    • Tom Seaman says:

      Good for you and thank you for being the person you are to be there for others to brighten their day!! “Make the most of every day” are such powerful words to live by.

  3. Ginger Wood says:

    So on the mark, Tom, as always. Keep up your amazing work. God has blessed you with so much insight and ability to articulate it so well.
    So super proud of your work in helping others. Our emotional/psychological outlook is key to peace and joy, despite our illness!

  4. Debbie Seminerio says:

    Tom I agree 100 % you’ve hit on a key factor that can greatly impact our pain levels and spasms etc. It really takes practice but is so worth it. I too believe in the power of the mind/body connection. We all have “stuff” we have to deal with, but how we handle it makes all the difference! Stay well .

    • Tom Seaman says:

      Thanks Debbie. I agree. It is definitely a practice and takes effort, but so worth it when we see the benefit of letting go.

  5. Debbie says:

    Tom, this excerpt resonated with me. I, too, feel this way. I feel like I’m constantly in a state of Hypervigilance. Stress is so detrimental to people with Dystonia. In addition, it’s so difficult to accept that life as we knew it, is changed forever. I used to be able to go 24/7; now I have limitation and am forced to choose what’s most important. I am also and empath and I care to much, and enmesh with people. It affects my health. I like your mantra and I’ll adopt it as my own. I understand that I’ll still care but maybe it’ll help me get to the normal range like it has you. Thank you for sharing your life strategies.

    • Tom Seaman says:

      Hi Debbie – Thanks for your comments. I think you described what so many of us go through. It’s tough! It’s interesting you mentioned ‘hypervigilence’ because I originally had a couple paragraphs that talked about hypervigilance that I removed to keep it from getting too long. I agree how difficult it is to accept life changes with dystonia and pretty much anything else, but I think if we allow ourselves to acclimate without resistance it becomes much easier. Thanks again and wishing you well!

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