Languishing. It’s the fancy word for that blah feeling you’ve been feeling during the pandemic.
If you’ve been lacking motivation, focus and even joy lately it means you’re ‘languishing’ and you’re not alone. The New York Times has described it as the ‘void between depression and flourishing’ and have called it out as the dominant collective emotion for 2021.
As we ease into a post-pandemic world, we need to tread gently with our emotions. Venturing out into our ‘new normal’ won’t be a one-and-done process but more like an up-and-down path with unknown twists and turns. It might feel delightful one moment and overwhelming the next.
Being clued into how you are feeling and making sure not to overwhelm yourself is key. Below are some other simple ways you can help yourself lift your languish and venture slowly but surely out of the pandemic, one day at a time.
1. LET OUTSIDE FORCES ENERGIZE YOU
You shouldn’t have to do all the work to re-energize yourself, let others do that for you. Where safe, get out! Sit outside at a cafe and people watch, walk around your neighborhood, go to the park and let the life of others around you give you energy.
Sometimes just hearing another person laugh or a baby screech with joy can lift your spirits, just a little. Witnessing strangers in a lively conversation, or a barista in his coffee-making zone can help put a pep back in your step. So venture out and let the world around you fill you back up.
2. GET BACK TO BASICS
The pandemic changed nearly all aspects of our lives and as a result our routines and structures may feel all out of whack. Spend some time getting back to basics and reminding yourself of what you need to get some equilibrium back in your personal ecosystem.
I use the ‘wheel of life’ with many of my clients – an exercise that helps them view their personal ecosystem holistically and see the areas of their life that need attention. To create your own ‘wheel’, draw a circle with about 10 segments. Label each segment as an area of your life – e.g. ‘family and friends’, ‘career’, ‘fun + adventure’, ‘health’, ‘personal growth’ etc. Then rank each segment out of ten in terms of satisfaction. Now brainstorm some realistic things you could do to raise your level of satisfaction just a bit in each area requiring attention.
With this information, you can now look to setting an achievable and relevant goal for yourself each day that also boosts your wellbeing. Remember this is also about creating a sense of accomplishment so be sure to celebrate that small win at the end of the day. And if you didn’t quite get there, that’s ok. Be gentle with yourself and see what you could do to make it easier to accomplish the next day.
3. ACTIVATE YOUR SENSES
Activating your senses requires very little energy and can have immediate benefits for our mood. If you are feeling overwhelmed, engage in a sensory check. Bring awareness to what you can see, hear, smell, touch and taste, one at a time.
To feel grounded, access things that your senses will thank you for. It could be an item that smells good (a burning candle or oil and garlic in a pan!), looks good (those trees in bloom outside!), sounds good (those bineural beats on Spotify!), tastes good (that brownie you’ve been eyeing at the coffee shop!) and feels good (those freshly washed sheets!). Consciously savor each sense and breathe into it.
4. CONNECT WITH SOMEONE
After so long with minimal and disrupted social connection, many of us may find it hard to start functionally socializing again. However, at our core we are social beings and it is important that we connect with each other to lift the languish.
Make time to see your friends and family or even to engage with strangers on the street – a passing smile goes a long way for both you and them! Whether it is to vent, relate, give or receive comfort, the more you connect with people the more you realize you aren’t alone in your languish. And the more opportunity there is to gain perspective and share a laugh – and we all know how vital humor is in times like these :).
Amelia Kruse is a Certified Leadership Coach based in New York working with professionals and entrepreneurs globally.