(CNN) – I recently went to pick up a gift card for a friend at a restaurant and came across an unseemly sight. The place was packed to overflowing with people, without masks, clinking glasses, exchanging friendly jokes and acting as if the pandemic were a reserved word for recommendations for horror movies or streaming psychological thrillers.It was the first time that the capacity of restaurants and bars in my area was raised after the low rates of covid-19.
“We’ve been very busy now that everyone is getting vaccinated,” the waiter told me, as I waited anxiously, still in my apocalyptic spacesuit and double-layer masks.
I felt like the kid who was not chosen for the burn team, as if I had missed the memo that somehow things had returned to normal and I needed to instantly shed the 14 months of fear and caution that they had gotten into my head. And what about my extensive collection of hand sanitizers?
Like the kid who wasn’t chosen to play burned out, I also felt a bit of relief that I couldn’t play, as at least they wouldn’t smash my head with a large, round flying object the size of a pandemic.
As I watched the people around me return to pre-pandemic activities, try as I might, I could not easily shake off the feeling of dread that had plagued me for a year.
What’s more, I couldn’t conjure up my inner sense of joy or excitement at the thought of going back to things that made me so happy before, such as good dinners, vacations, social gatherings, and which I had regretted giving up during maximum of the pandemic.
What was happening? I was depressed? Did others feel that way?
That feeling has a name
In many parts of the United States, vaccination rates are on the rise and, in turn, restrictions are easing. It should be a time to rejoice or at least feel relief.
However, many still feel what experts call “languor”, also known as that “boredom” feeling, where we are not technically depressed but we are not flourishing either.
The term languor, defined as “lack of mental health” in 2002 by Corey Keyes, researcher and professor at Emory University, in the Journal of Health and Social Research, means that you are twice as likely to be prone to depression. Keyes also posited that those who were married were less likely to languish, but it is notable that he was not conducting the research during a pandemic in which spouses were tied to each other 24 hours a day.
It doesn’t take a great leap of faith to figure out why experiencing a one-of-a-kind global health crisis can create feelings of languor or challenge our ability to feel joy.
A study conducted in 2020 showed that a “significant portion” of healthcare workers who languished during the pandemic were subsequently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, according to researchers from the University of Milan, Italy, in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
Your abnormal feelings are actually normal
We are going through a particularly strange time, with paradoxes and uncertain circumstances. Some people are vaccinated, but others are not. Some things are reopening, but not all and not quite.
Covid-19 rates are lower in some places and not in others. Some people are returning to airplanes and cubicles and restaurant tables in full force, and others are still uncomfortable stepping foot in the supermarket.
The uneven landscape is causing anxiety and confusion for some, and in some cases it seems more difficult to navigate than when we were experiencing a COVID-19 surge because the directions are less clear.
It is reasonable to feel confused and anxious to make the “right” decisions and feel secure while re-enjoying some of the things we might have before the pandemic.
«The pandemic has taken its toll on us; we’re languishing, ”says Sheila Forman, a psychologist from Santa Monica, California.
“Some languish more than others,” in part because some people are more prone to depression or other mental health problems, and because social isolation may have affected extroverts more.
The good news is that there may be ways to mitigate that languor you’re feeling.
“Emotions don’t ‘happen’ to you,” says Lisa Feldman Barrett, distinguished professor of psychology at Northeastern University and scientific director of the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Harvard University. «You make them. Or more specifically, your brain does them while it is in constant conversation with your body and the world around you.
As such, “you are an architect of your experience. Once you realize this, you have more opportunities to control what you do and how you feel.
The key to extinguishing languor is getting to the root cause.
“Determine if your feelings are due to a mental health problem or just a reaction to current times,” says Forman. “This can be done with an appointment with a mental health provider.”
If you can identify that your traffic jam is due to being physically stagnant or isolated, get moving!
“When the restrictions of the pandemic start to change, make plans to see your friends and family, albeit safely,” Forman said.
Stay focused and express yourself
Mindfulness activities, such as meditation, can help you if you are feeling anxious or nervous. You can access free or low-cost applications.
A 2017 study found the medication to be effective in treating post-traumatic stress symptoms, according to researchers in the medical journal Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice and Policy.
Lastly, talk about how you feel. “You’re not the only one who feels this way,” says Forman. Share your feelings with someone. It can be a therapist or a friend, ”he said.
If you don’t like talking, write it down, draw a picture, or go shoot a crossbow in an empty forest with your best friend.
Find a way out that allows you to express yourself and know that, above all, current circumstances are not the usual ones. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
–Allison hope is a writer and New Yorker by birth who prefers humor to sadness, trips to television and coffee to sleep.