If you’ve been feeling uninspired, stagnant, lack motivation or struggling to get out and about into the world again after continual lockdowns or find joy in our day-to-day life, you’re not alone. We may find it hard to flourish at the moment as a sense of languishing seems to be one of the dominant emotions of 2021, a lot more than we experienced in 2020 as we navigate life through this ongoing inertia and stop/start experiences. I know I have experienced days of languishing at times since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Even though restrictions are lessening in Victoria, there are still many of us that are still sitting in a space of not sure where to go next, what to do and how to function back in society. The world has also changed and we are all now different from the people we were 2 years ago. Relationships, jobs, friendships, living arrangements, emotional states, health conditions and so much more may have changed over this period.
When talking about languishing, it is important to also talk about flourishing, which is "a state where people experience positive emotions, positive psychological functioning and positive social functioning, most of the time," living "within an optimal range of human functioning." It is a descriptor and measure of positive mental health and overall life well-being, and includes multiple components and concepts, such as cultivating strengths, subjective well-being, "goodness, generativity, growth, and resilience." It is a central concept in positive psychology, developed by Corey Keyes and Barbara Fredrickson. Flourishing is at the top end of the mental health continuum, and at the lower scale is depression. Languish sits in the middle, as Adam Grant wrote in his article in the New Your Times “Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. It can dull motivation, disrupt focus, and decrease your desire to work’ .
From my research and understanding of languishing over the past 18 months with my own experiences, family, friends and clients I have found the following have helped to move myself and others out of this state of mind/body:
1. Connect with self and others
The deep connections we make and have with others helps to lift us to a flourishing state, quality connections over quantity are very important. We don’t need to be connecting with everyone and anyone but taking the time to connect with those people who uplift us, inspire us, are fun, interesting, innovative or easy to talk. Whether these are family, friends or colleagues you are in contact on a regular basis or an old friend or family member that you had great times with and you want to reminisce and chat about those awesome experiences you have had together.
2. Find the glimpses and glimmers of those simple things that bring you joy.
It may be viewing the sunrise or observing lady bird on a flower. It could be watching your kid’s build a cubby house in a tree while laughing and creating a beautiful imaginary story. It may be hugging a loved one or savouring the taste of a delicious meal. Take a moment to really enjoy these small glimmers and glimpses as these turn into longer moments of joy. This is done by activating our vagus nerve which in turn helps to manage stress, boost healing and regulate our nervous system.
3. Stay hydrated with clean water and eat well.
Keep your immune system as strong as possible. Including the following vitamins and minerals in your diet will be a game-changer in the months ahead: Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin D and Magnesium.
4. Get moving and out in nature.
Every opportunity you can to absorb the Vitamin D, get fresh air into your
lungs after months of wearing masks and get your body moving will help enhance your emotional, mental and physical health and wellbeing.
I know many of you have heard me ramble on the importance of sleep. Sleep is the Swiss Army Knife or First Aid Kit for better health and wellbeing. A good night’s sleep will lift your mood, improve focus and concentration along with all the other physical and emotional benefits it provides.
6. It is ok to not be ok, all of the time.
You may have days you feel sad, frustrated, angry or numb. We have all experienced so much and not everyone will bounce back as quickly as others. This is ok, but if you feel that these emotions are lasting longer than a day here or there, please speak to a professional or someone that can support you to help and support you during this time.
7. Set small goals for yourself.
For the next week, and then month and then longer-term ones. This will help with providing you with some accountability, a vision and a purpose. Ensure some of these goals are fun and also rewarding and uplifting for your soul.
8. Be kind to yourself and others.
We have seen quite a divide with people over the last 18 months. Being accepting of each other’s opinions and choices is important. We don’t have to agree with everyone’s ideas or thoughts but we can acknowledge them and remember that any situation is rarely a black and white scenario. Being kind to yourself for the choices you have made over this time too is imperative. We are experiencing something we have not experienced in our life-time before and it’s challenging for everyone.
At home, on the beach, in the park, in your backyard. Put your favourite tunes on, turn it up loud and DANCE! …… Just like the C +C Music Factory tune ‘Everybody dance now! Jump to the rhythm, jump, jump to the rhythm jump Beats and lyrics to make your shake your pants, take a chance, come on and dance!!
These strategies of balance, acceptance and connection help us to move from languishing towards flourishing. Focusing on practising these skills may serve as a psychological vaccine in these current times.
Written by Jo Surkitt