How is your job? How was your week? How are things going with your partner? Overall, how do you feel?
If most of the answers were “more or less”… you may have languor. Don’t be alarmed, it’s nothing to worry about. But it is something that needs to be addressed, especially when it goes on for a long time.
But what is languor?
Do you feel ‘more or less’? Maybe you have languor — Photo: GETTY IMAGES
It is an emotional state in which “there is no purpose in life, there is stagnation, a feeling of emptiness and lack of passion”, explains Venezuelan Verónica Morera, director of the Purple Rain Nutrition portal, which specializes in integrative mental health.
In this “more or less” state, the main thing is that we feel apathy or emptiness. According to Morera, “we are functional, but we act automatically”: we get up, have breakfast, shower, go to work and complete our journey “because we have to”.
But we go on aimlessly, that is, without a purpose in life and without the engine provided by desire and passion.
It’s not something pathological, because it’s part of people’s normal emotional states — and we can all feel that way, even within the same day, with “peaks of inspiration and apathy”, explains Morera.
But when you are languid, “there are no peaks, everything is flat.”
And the problem arises when that flatness, that languor, becomes chronic.
In addition to this constant apathy towards everything, there are other symptoms that can help us detect languor.
For example, you went from home to work, but you don’t remember how you got there. Or you spent a lot of time on social media, but you don’t know what you saw. You retain nothing.
Morera points out that staying too long focused on something is one of the warning signs.
“It’s a way of regulating the nervous system, there is an emptiness and an excess of distractions to escape.”
She points out that excesses in general – from social networks, food, alcohol, sports, going out – are a tool for evasion.
It is also possible to feel disconnection from the real world — “there is a dissociation, a feeling of not belonging,” Morera says.
We can walk down the street, for example, without realizing anything, or order a coffee without seeing the people around us.
There may even be a disconnect with our own body. We don’t realize that we need to shower, that we’re hungry, thirsty or full.
You can also feel disconnected from the real world — Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Chilean clinical psychologist Javiera Torres, a professor at the Finis Terrae University in Santiago de Chile, says that in order to check for languor, we can pay attention to activities that we have always enjoyed, but which have ceased to arouse our interest.
If you used to paint six days a week and you reduce the intensity to the point that you don’t want to anymore, that you’re bored, “watch this alert and wake up.”
Torres points out that while languor “isn’t depression, that doesn’t mean it’s not important.”
It can be a way to protect ourselves in times when “you have to survive and move forward in the midst of uncertainty”, as happened to many people during the pandemic – just when the term became popular.
“The problem with survival mode is that it can only be used for short periods,” says Morera.
If it continues, it can turn into depression.
“I stopped feeling passion in my life so much that, at some point, I resigned myself to this state of flattening”, explains Morera about the thought that affects those who suffer from languor.
And this state, according to the Venezuelan psychologist, goes from a gray area to darkness, from which it is more difficult to get out.
And doing everything in automatic mode will make you not want to get out of bed, see everything on the negative side and not comply with the daily routine.
But there are ways to avoid reaching this extreme.
Excessive use of social media can be one of the symptoms of languor — Photo: GETTY IMAGES
“Languinity is a warning, a call to change, something my body is doing and no longer wants,” says Spanish therapist Ana Sánchez-Anegón, founder of the company El Animal Emocional.
She states that it is necessary to analyze our relationships, our work and our motivations:
“It’s a breakup to take charge of our lives.”
After “observing it head-on and not avoiding it”, it is necessary to take steps to go after what Verónica Morera calls the “flow state”, which can be translated as “flow”.
The expression transports us to the field of music: those who have “flow” feel the music, move and transmit these emotions and sensations to the world.
But how to get to this flow state?
“With mastery, mindfulness (mindfulness) and purpose,” explains Morera.
Or, in good Portuguese: “Feeling competent, [saber] who contributes something and doesn’t always do the same, connecting with the present and paying full attention to what you do – and, besides, that everything has a meaning”.
We cannot, overnight, found a hospital and find a cure for cancer while doing meditation. But we can do little things that start to “poke” us to regain connection, passion and find meaning.
“It can be something simple, like playing a video game with your partner, or with a friend, and recording the game. It’s something that serves as a ritual, gives you a sense of belonging, of feeling competent. something that matters, because we’re connecting and we’re going to record the match. It can be things like that, small things”, suggests Morera.
What can also help in our routine is to include things, no matter how small, that involve novelty and help you connect with yourself or your surroundings.
Morera advises, for example, to leave your cell phone at home and “get lost”, taking different routes to work (to avoid automatic pilot) or going to new places that expose us, little by little, to these novelties.
They can also be things that offer a kind of shock to the nervous system, such as a cold and sudden shower, even if it is slowly, moving the body or touching the feet with the earth.
Javiera Torres also recommends asking for help, especially “if this emotion already interferes with your daily life and if you lose interest a lot”.
She knows that it is not always possible to have psychological help “because mental health is a privilege, so the first step will be to alert our support network: family, friends, siblings, people who can contribute and help us get out of this feeling of empty”.
The expert highlights the importance of setting minimum goals.
“I’m going to wake up, get out of the shower and put on these rings that I like. It’s cumulative and that’s how it goes.”
For Ana Sánchez-Anegón, it is important to go through a therapeutic process, because coming out of languor, in many cases, means “breaking with certain things in your life, it can be a process of breaking with many of your beliefs”.
Still, if that’s not possible or if the person doesn’t want to seek professional help, she recommends that those who suffer from languor “have a space to listen to themselves, turn to themselves, or read about personal development.”
If you’ve read this far, maybe you know someone who is in the midst of this apathy and doesn’t know what to do.
Javiera Torres states that there is a fundamental magic question:
“Many times, we arrive with our luggage, advising what to do. And this does not always make sense to the other person. Therefore, it is necessary to arrive with a very open mind and disposition towards the other”, he guides.
Helping the other is making ourselves available for what the other needs. But what happens if those who are languid don’t know what they need? We accompany you on this quest.
“It’s not about coming in and saying, ‘Let’s do this or that,'” says Torres.
“Because the languid person won’t be receptive. It’s saying to them, ‘What do you need? I’m here for whatever you need, let me know. I’ll take care of you in your own time.'”
And when the person opens up, “try to get them in touch with what they like.”
Another advice from Javiera Torres to help a person with languor is not to let it increase, not to wait for the critical moment.
“When something goes wrong, it’s better to prevent a little beforehand”, he suggests.