In this web series, psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald and Nutters Club co-host Hamish Williams look at mental health and how to navigate some of the more challenging parts of modern life. Today they talk about lockdown and languishing.
When the lockdown of March 2020 was announced I was driving home. With no idea what the reality of the situation would look like, I guessed more time at home was likely. Detouring, I promptly bought 60 litres of paint and a couple more Xbox controllers for the kids.
Home renovations, family time and home-cooked lunches became the norm and to a point I enjoyed it. Problem was, it wasn't the norm.
With the ability to manage the virus we can now return to a version of normality at the office, the movies, our local sports clubs - whatever you like. A number of us, however, don't feel that we can.
That feeling has a term: Languishing.
When I asked psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald, he was quick to point out that languishing is different to anxiety.
"People often describe it as feeling demotivated or flat. It's that feeling that life might have lost a bit of meaning, you're disconnected from the things that used to give you joy."
How you got to this feeling of languishing, though, is critical to understanding how to reverse it.
"The behaviour we engaged in during lockdowns was similar in some ways to the behaviour of depression," says MacDonald. "Staying at home and not engaging in the wider world is the modern equivalent of sitting at the back of the cave."
This has, in many ways, been made easier thanks to everything "pivoting" to provide you whatever you need at home - think employment, deliveries, even streaming the latest Hollywood blockbuster. It's likely that a languishing state wasn't a conscious decision, it just became a habit.
We're creatures of habit and have the ability to form new ones. So what steps can we take to challenge ourselves and others to break free of this feeling of languishing?
"Start small; just a walk to a local park or beach are excellent first steps", advises MacDonald. "Even if it's winter, recognising that anything we can do to be active and be reconnected with our communities and friends will have a huge payoff long-term."
That said, I wondered about friends and family that might brush you off, tell you they're busy but you know that's likely not the case.
MacDonald reckons a direct but accommodating approach is best.
"If they don't want to come to the rugby with you, be accepting of that but return with a question of what's something you could do together that they would be comfortable with - trade Eden Park for a coffee at a local park."
Persistence and patience appear to be the best way to counter languishing, so when you're ready, be assured the rest of the world is here looking forward to seeing you again.