Languor: The Dominant Emotion of 2021
That discomfort you feel is called languor and it is the dominant emotion of 2020 and 2021. It is described as a feeling of stagnation and emptiness. Symptoms of languor include: mental exhaustion, lack of motivation, and numbness.
Many of us have been feeling trapped, in a kind of limbo.
Life seems to us both too overwhelming and not attractive enough. Every task we do requires a search for motivation beyond anything we have ever known. We feel tired, exhausted, and not very enthusiastic. At the same time a little restless and even anxious.
What is languishing? Sociologist Corey Keyes first coined the term languish as the opposite of flourish. His research suggests that the people most likely to have severe depression and anxiety disorders are the people who are languishing right now.
Listlessness is defined as apathy, a feeling of restlessness or a general lack of interest in life, or things that normally bring you joy.
Unlike a panic disorder or depression, languishing is a series of emotions, not a mental illness, and often encompasses distressing feelings of stagnation, monotony, and emptiness.
Part of the danger is that when you languish, you may not notice your symptoms. Little by little we are becoming indifferent to indifference, so many of us do not usually seek help, nor do we do much to help ourselves.
You can help improve your languor by practicing the following:
- Take time off as many times as possible: It may seem contradictory and even counterproductive, but once exhaustion or lack of motivation occurs, it is pertinent to stop and take a break. This could mean several days off or disconnecting from most things for a weekend if that’s all you have.
- Unfortunately, taking time off is still a luxury. For many, it can mean a loss of income. However, the brain is like a machine, and when we reach the level of exhaustion, it means that it is overheating. Stress produces cortisol. This overstimulates organs including our nervous system. To ‘fix’ it, we need to turn it off, take some time, and develop a plan to restart it so that it doesn’t overload again.
- Give yourself permission to enjoy: Instead of focusing on what “should” make you happy or not try at all, lean on anything you can enjoy. As long as it is not dangerous, it is worth exploring. The enjoyment comes from exploring interests outside of your daily life, allowing you a well-deserved break
- Change the environment: It’s amazing how refreshing a change of environment can be. Taking a mindful walk or doing some form of physical activity outside can help you release endorphins, and improve your mood and motivation. If you are working from home, be sure to create a relaxation space separate from your workplace. This will make it easier for you to get out of your digital ‘cave’ and stimulate your senses so that you can get back on track mentally and physically. Boundaries are also physical.
- Try therapy: Therapy can be a critical tool in navigating new and terrifying feelings, such as those associated with languor. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help people reframe their negative thoughts while exploring healthy coping behaviors. When necessary, this can also include taking medications.
A therapist can help you cope with some of the most difficult situations you will face in your life, as well as help you develop the tools necessary to manage your emotional and mental reactions to things in the longer term. In short, it will help you better understand how your brain works.