The words they use may be different, but our patients are overwhelmingly describing similar feelings:
…I’m just so tired
…I’m depressed, but not in the traditional sense
…I just haven’t gotten my mojo back since COVID
…I don’t know how to interact with people anymore
…I feel anxious all the time
…I have no motivation
I recently attended a virtual conference where organizational psychologist, Adam Grant, spoke. Aside from developing an incredible nerd crush on the man (he is stunningly brilliant and seems completely friendly and approachable with no airs whatsoever), I was taken in by his succinct description of what it is we’ve all been feeling but couldn’t quite name: languishing. According to Grant, “Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness…It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being… You’re not functioning at full capacity.”
The sense of stagnation and emptiness…
The absence of well-being…
He nailed it.
So how do we go from languishing to flourishing? Grant suggests one way is to create blocks of uninterrupted time where you’re permitted to “flow”. You can use this time to focus on work, a passion project or to just “be”, but the idea is that you free yourself from common distractions like cell phones, social media and yes, even your kids.
Like many of you, I have had an exceptionally difficult year managing home-schooling a second grader, running my businesses, and tending to my immuno-compromised mother in the midst of a pandemic. I, too, have been finding daily joy illusive and hard to find. I have taken Grant’s advice and make sure to block out time to “fill my cup”. I take time to walk every morning, I am now thankfully meeting up with friends again, and most importantly, I am fiercely protective of my sleep schedule. I encourage you to realize you’re not alone and you’re not a freak if you’re now finding yourself feeling mentally drained in ways you’ve never before experienced. The mental health dilemma of COVID is real, as will the long-term effects be. Give yourself permission to accept that you may be languishing and then carve out time to care for yourself. It’s like being on an airplane, you put your own mask on first before helping others. It’s not selfish; you literally can’t help others if you can’t breathe yourself.
Check out Grant’s full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/19/well/mind/covid-mental-health-languishing.html