Christmas and the end of the year have not been easy. It is normal for the forces to fail. The pandemic lasts and spirits decrease. The virus is still around. Sustained stress over time can affect mood. According to psychologist Adam Grant, 2021 has been the year of languor. After fear and anxiety, comes generalized fatigue or apathy.
The RAE defines the languid as one who lacks strength, vigor or freshness, or who is dejected or lacks courage or joy. In the field of mental health, languor is associated with asthenia or difficulty performing tasks that, under normal conditions, are easily done.
People who feel this way describe that they are stuck. At the time of confinement they noticed a certain motivation. They perceived that they progressed by taking advantage of the time. But now they experience a succession of days where nothing special happens, as if they were fallow.
They convey that they have lost illusions and that they do not enjoy the activities as before. They seem more unfocused. Not being able to plan in the short and medium term translates into behaviors of more seclusion. They are isolated. Only the long-awaited night transmits some peace and tranquility. Projects seem less feasible. Everything is left for the next day. If one wants to sign up for a new course, he stops because he sees it as useless. If you want to find a partner, you see it complicated and you don’t meet anyone. Ultimately, it’s as if a lot of people don’t like the life they lead now. And this disturbs, annoys and puts in a bad mood. But, in spite of everything, people who feel this way continue with the routine of work, school, children… They are pulling along, even if they are not one hundred percent. But if this state becomes chronic, it can be the prelude or risk factor for a depressive disorder, especially in people with a greater predisposition or vulnerability. Therefore, it is convenient to keep in mind a series of indications to live better with languor and recover some enthusiasm.
The first thing is to identify it. It is necessary to understand that one is not responsible for feeling this way, but that it is the current circumstances that determine this feeling. It would be convenient to contextualize it, since it is a feeling shared by many people. Putting a name helps to communicate it more naturally. When asked how you feel, you can answer: “Here we go, pulling.” And not pretend. Exchanging these impressions legitimizes discomfort, without wallowing in very negative language.
Staying active and busy carrying out healthy habits such as sports, a good diet, practicing relaxation and good sleep hygiene behaviors contribute to connecting with the body through self-care.
It is useful to organize the time dedicated to work and rest. Focusing on attention-absorbing leisure activities helps you lose track of time. This theory of flow it was formulated by Mihály Csikszentmihályi. When you are flowing, you enjoy it even if you are not aware of it. It can be experienced by reading a book, cooking, watching a series or running.
Another recommendation would be to stick to particular sources of pleasure. Distinguish with which plans you are more comfortable and with which you are not. And get into action. There is a right to increase them without feeling guilty, within the possibilities of each one and with the risks that can be assumed in a pandemic. You cannot live with your back to reality, but it is not fair to remain blocked by fear. You have to spend time reflecting on the moments of well-being that also exist. This goal can be achieved with small tasks, such as writing down three significant moments of the day and highlighting the personal strengths associated with them.
Being grateful is another gesture that serves to reduce languor, as well as carrying out small acts collaborating with others, for example, through volunteering. These activities help us get out of the rumination and focus on the benefit of being of use to others. It can also be beneficial to set yourself a challenge: signing up for a training activity generates the feeling of challenge. Creative culture makes us evolve, while passive culture helps us digest. Both are necessary to feel good.
Undoubtedly, the reconceptualization of mental health that is being put into the public, social and political debate is very positive. But normalizing the right to verbalize that one has a mental illness is compatible with regularizing the legitimacy of feeling languid without having a diagnosis. You can be having a hard time without being depressed.
Following these and other recommendations along the same lines, we will go from languor to flourishing. We don’t have to wait for the exam or the end of the pandemic to feel that life now is also worthwhile if we take advantage of it.
Patricia Fernández is a clinical psychologist at the Ramón y Cajal Hospital in Madrid.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.