The Itchy, Scratchy Ennui

It is not at all uncommon at the end of winter to get that itchy feeling of being so ready for the season to change. We’re tired of being cooped up in the house. We’re tired of eating cheese and watching television. We are ready for spring, summer, sun, and barbeques. 

And yet we have another couple weeks, or in some cases, at least another month to go. Blah.

This feeling you have is called ennui, a chronic form of boredom that can’t be quickly mitigated by just finding something to do. Even if you do find something to do, you might soon discover that you’re bored with that, too. 

So how can you manage this uncomfortable, listless feeling?

First, try not to fight it. Fighting an uncomfortable emotion may seem like a smart step, but doing so actually makes you less tolerant of unpleasant feelings and worse at handling them. 

Think and perhaps write about what is causing this feeling. Is there a particular thing about which you feel dissatisfied? Maybe it is just the lingering winter, so perhaps write about three things you want to do as soon as the weather allows. But you may find that your listlessness is about something deeper. Maybe you don’t feel challenged in your job or you feel too stressed in it. Maybe a friendship isn’t checking all the boxes. Even though ennui doesn’t feel great, it can sometimes be the impetus we need to get us to make changes.

Adding mindfulness practice is one way to help you manage your ennui. Allowing your mind to only focus on small sensory details (like the carpet beneath your sock feet or the sound of the heater pushing air through the vents) helps take the bite out of ennui, making it less unpleasant and clearing your mind so you’re better equipped to think about what the real problem might be and how you could solve it.

My favorite thing of all to do, however, is to picture my own life in a season of winter. It brings me some excitement to think about what I have shed over the past few months (or what I should have shed) to get ready for the rebirth of Spring. Our lives really do tend to mirror the seasons. Winter is a chance for us to slow down, regroup, and get ready to bloom and take flight just like all the beautiful flowers, the trees, the birds and the bees.

About Deedee Cummings

As a therapist, attorney, author, and CEO of Make A Way Media, Deedee Cummings has a passion for making the world a better place. All 16 of Cummings’ diverse picture, poetry, and workbooks for kids reflect her professional knowledge and love of life. Colorful and vibrant, her children’s books are not only fun for kids and adults to read, they also work to teach coping skills, reinforce the universal message of love, encourage mindfulness, and facilitate inclusion for all. Cummings has spent more than two decades working within the family therapy and support field and much of her writing shares her experiences of working with kids in therapeutic foster care. As a result, her catalogs of published books for kids are filled with positive, hopeful messages. Using therapeutic techniques in her stories to teach coping skills, Cummings also strives to lessen the stigma that some people feel when it comes to receiving mental health assistance.
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