Apathetic not Pathetic 

With the world slowing easing out of yet another lockdown, we should be feeling joyous, excited and ready to go out and enjoy meeting friends, going to the pub or restaurant, and even getting out on the odd day trip. So why are many of us, including me, feeling so flat about the things that should, in the words of Marie Kondo, ‘spark joy’? 

Originally published 12/05/2021 

This state of ‘meh’, has been termed languishing, and it describes the state of feeling joyless, aimless, but not particularly unhappy. You are not spiralling, but at the time you are not thriving either. This sub-state is particularly prevalent when you try to do something that would normally make you feel happier, whether it be a haircut or a meal out with a friend. 

So why this, and why now? With the pandemic has come new rules, a loss of control and a loss of social contact. What was a last-minute, lets go to the pub, has changed to booking in advance, temperature checks, screens and masks. A haircut is now subject to more tight timescales, stress of close contact, and potential unease of being in a now-unfamiliar environment. It’s not hard to see why the additional stress, monotony of daily life and constant up down from lockdown to lockdown has taken its toll on us all.  For me, I have become less active, less interested in my regular hobbies, and less engaged in certain friendships. It’s not normally the person I am, but this sense of burnout, lethargy and meh from being stuck at home has ironically made me feel safer, and yet more bored at home. I’m uneasy about being in busy places, I have no desire to be out for more than a couple of hours in public, and I am retreating into myself. 

You may wonder what we can do to come out of this feeling of apathy. Experts recommend a concept called ‘flow’ where you actively engage your mind in something that takes you away from yourself and your thoughts. This could be an absorbing TV show, a sport that requires concentration, or even a really good book or complicated recipe. This may explain why certain shows like Call of Duty have been so popular – the pull away from our daily humdrum has never been as welcome as it is now. Alongside, recognising the mental distress and strain that the past 14 months has had on us, including those who haven’t lost a loved one to Covid, is really important. I liken it to the argument that gay people are considered ‘lucky’ if they have never been spat at. Why are we setting the bar so low? This pandemic has affected us all, and we should be kind to ourselves. 

So I will be kind to myself, and others, by getting bit more active, by scheduling in some ‘coffee break’ chats on Teams, and looking for a new box set to get absorbed in. 

This blog was originally posted on The WOW Network.
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