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Updated on: Sunday, November 14, 2021, 12:38 PM IST

The Millennial Pilgrim: Pay attention if you have been feeling less productive or procrastinating unintentionally

If you are bingeing on productivity hacks videos but are finding it difficult to meet your deadline, or even take a shower, you must examine the underlying causes
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There will be hardly anyone who wouldn’t have heard productivity hacks on loop on YouTube. That probably is the best way to procrastinate – simply watch several videos on being productive. Much like talking about fitness is always the easier way out over actually getting fit. The intention here is not to shame you. We are after all mortal beings and only have a limited pool of willpower on a given day, which again is subject to multiple variables – like what phase of your life you are in, what you ate for breakfast, how your boss treated you on a given day.

The idea is to drive home the paradoxes of our existence – we always fail to do what we most want. And one of the things that modern living mandates is productivity and yet we simply fail to get anything of significance done on most days.

Though, such acute aversion to action never comes in our way to bingeing shows on OTT platforms. We waste a good part of our day simply scrolling through the social media feed of our friends. We are barely able to get our laundry done, wash the piling dishes, or re-arrange the wardrobe once in a while. It’s a struggle to move through days actually doing the things on our to-do list. It’s not as if we are enjoying this state of inertia.

Even as our bodies lie inert on bed passively scrolling and watching videos, our mind is pulling us to get started on the presentation or the article that we need to submit the very same day. One might dismiss this as chronic procrastination or plain laziness or a fallout of millennial entitlement, as we have the luxury of getting services at our doorstep. But when such a phase persists for a longer period, it is better to read this through the prism of clinical literature and call it avolition. In clinical terms avolition stands for the loss of will to do any goal-directed task.

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This inaction can be seen in the failure to complete an official assignment or the inability to get up and take a bath, while one is constantly mentally planning to do it. For patients with mental illnesses even maintaining personal hygiene becomes a difficult proposition owing to avolition. It is a common symptom in patients of schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, etc.

However, it is not uncommon for functioning individuals to experience this. Particularly, with the lockdown many have simply been in their pyjamas for days together, lying in their bed, eating in their bed and watching tons and tons of OTT shows. This is very different from not having the motivation to work. The intent to work is very much there, but one is unable to shake off the inertia and spring into action. The constant pull and push of guilt at being able to meet one’s productivity targets only worsens the situation. When extended for longer periods of time, non-movement might have adverse physiological and psychological impact on us. Without bodily movement we tend to move towards the more depressive end of our mood. The only antidote then to anything bordering on avolition is movement.

One must remember that our body sometimes does require extended periods of rest due to stressful situations. But passivity isn’t relaxation. Your body might be passive but your mind might be on an overthinking drive, tiring you out and leaving you too exhausted to do anything meaningful. Experiencing avolition doesn’t mean a person likes to relax and take it easy in life. Instead, their overthinking mind and crippling fears leave them with little resources to do anything useful with their time.

If such feelings persist for longer periods of time, it could be an indication of a clinical condition and medical help should be sought. Even for functioning individuals, whose avolition is not paired with other impairments of mental illnesses, the condition must not be taken lightly. It is easy to slip into these phases of complete inaction and emotional numbness and exhaustion.

Here are a few ways to spring back into action whenever you feel what you are experiencing isn’t regular fatigue but something bordering on avolition

1. Open doors and windows, feel sunlight on your skin. 2. Check what you eat. Go low on carbs, high on proteins, take vitamin supplements. 3. Get a blood test done to check hormonal imbalance or deficiencies. 4. Physically make the effort to move. Put on some music and dance. 5. Limit your screen-time. If possible, go off social media.6. Push yourself to take a cold-shower. 7. Practice relaxation.

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As explained earlier, passivity doesn’t mean relaxation. Relaxation happens when you truly reside in your body and not constantly live in your head. Yoga nidra is a good relaxation practice that brings you back to your body and normalises your breath. And finally, consult a specialist if you have been finding it difficult to get things done, slipping into avolition more frequently. 

(The writer is a mental health and behavioral sciences columnist, conducts art therapy workshops and provides personality development sessions for young adults. She can be found as @the_millennial_pilgrim on Instagram and Twitter.)

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Published on: Sunday, November 14, 2021, 09:18 AM IST
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