We’re so out of touch with our bodies we routinely mistake physical discomfort for psychological.
Most of the time, we’re in our heads, and focused on fairly cerebral tasks in an almost “out of body” state. As a result, physical feedback systems go unanswered.
But the physical discomfort we’re unaware of doesn’t go away. It sublimates and colors mental states. The warning light is on, you just don’t know why.
So quick tip: cultivate bodily awareness, periodically scan your physical sensations, then give your body what it needs.
This is a trick I accidentally discovered a few years ago. Often, when immersed in a profound ennui, I got out of my head, focused on my body and “checked the gauges”. I typically found out I was actually thirsty or hungry, or too hot, or slouched in an awkward position, or my feet were a bit cold, or my back was sore or something of the sort. So I fixed it.
A glass of water, a change into more comfortable trousers, thick socks and a bathroom break later – “Yeaah it’s alright now.”
Scan your body. Actually, do it right now, as soon as you finish reading. Improve your posture, get a better chair, take a deep breath, drink or eat or take a shit or stretch your legs.
For all our conceits and narcissism around our feelings (“It can’t be that simple!” – yes it can. “Surely my depression has a deep meaning” – maybe it doesn’t, do you want to feel byronic or better?), we’re physical beings. Address the things your body is telling you. Half the time, your profound existential angst and metaphysical uncertainty will turn out to have been overly tight underwear.
One good way of alleviating ennui is to contribute to good causes.