Sometimes I get ennui.
I first heard this word on Gilmore Girls. Michel is leaning over the front desk at the Independence Inn, chin in hands, looking glum. Lorelai is imploring him to answer the ringing phone, but he informs her that, while he would like to answer it, he cannot, because he is suffering from ennui.
(If you are familiar with the show, you might doubt Michel’s explanation for his failure to do his job, and I wouldn’t blame you. In fact, I’d probably agree with you. But, in any case, let’s assume the veracity of his statement for the sake of this article.)
Michel defines ennui as a “metaphysical angst.” Google tells me that ennui is a “feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement.”
Every so often, I feel lethargic, bored, weary, and unmotivated.
The world seems gray instead of full color, and I feel, for lack of a better word, blah.
This feeling might last for a day or a week, sometimes even longer. I’m still able to get out of bed and do everything that I need to do; I see friends; I continue on with life. As someone who has experienced what I believe was Adjustment Disorder with depressed mood, this feeling is entirely distinct.
Typically, I can’t identify anything specific that’s causing me to feel this way. Based on experience, I’ve learned that I just need to ride the wave and know that the feeling is going to lift in time.
That being said, there are three things that I make sure to do when I feel this way, to safeguard against the risk of feeling worse. As a disclaimer, what makes one person feel better might not work for another, but here’s what works for me.
- Talk about it.
The first thing I do is call my mom. Now I know some people’s relationships with their mothers may fall into the “it’s complicated” category, but my mom is my go-to person for, well, frankly, everything. 99 percent of the time, talking with her will boost my mood. She validates my experience and reminds me that nothing lasts forever.
In just a few minutes of conversation, I am reminded that I am not alone in my struggle and feel hopeful that the situation will improve.
I’ve learned that isolating is one of the worst things I can do when I’m feeling down. It is a gateway to depression.
I love the saying, “a problem shared is a problem halved.”
Identify your person and pick up the phone. If you choose the right person, you won’t regret it.
With the amount of workouts available on the Internet, there is no excuse not to exercise, even if it’s only ten minutes. Despite the fact that I’ve never been someone who enjoys working out, I am diligent with exercise because I know how amazing I feel when I complete a workout.
It’s cliché, but for me it’s absolutely true that the hardest part about working out is getting started. I can also say that I never, ever regret a workout.
During physical activity, endorphins are released, activating the pleasure center of the brain. You’ve probably heard the terms “runner’s high.” You can thank endorphins for that.
Research has shown that exercise is as effective at treating symptoms of depression as antidepressants. With the profusion of pharmaceutical companies pushing drugs like candy, it’s hard to believe that something so simple as exercise could be just as efficacious.
I am not saying that medication is never beneficial, but I am saying that regular exercise is much more beneficial for mental health than one might think, and so underutilized in today’s sedentary culture.
I’ve found that finding the right form of exercise is the key to follow through. I personally hate running and, short of being paid actual money to run, I won’t do it.
Find the workout you’ll actually do, and do it.
It makes all the difference.
3. Get Outside.
I will admit that this is the one I struggle with the most.
I’ve referenced this in other articles, but Logan and I love to hike on the weekends. San Diego is beautiful most days of the year, making it the perfect climate for outdoor activities.
Still, I spend most of my time indoors. Part of that is because I, like pretty much everyone, have to work to live, which requires being in an office, sometimes without sunlight. I can also be a homebody.
But when I am experiencing ennui, I know it’s more important than ever to get outside and soak up some vitamin D.
Do you ever experience ennui? If so, how do you deal with it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!