May 18, 2021
A big buzzword you may be resonating with and talking about is “languishing”, a term recently discussed in the New York Times by psychologist Adam Gant, describing a common emotional experience many of us have been experiencing post-2020. With several months of being on lockdown, lingering uncertainty, constant states of stress, and rapidly changing developments, it can be an understatement to say our nervous systems have been through the wringer.
“Languishing”, a term initially coined by Corey Keys in 2002, actually names and brings language to the essence of feeling “Blah”–feeling aimless and empty, lacking joy, going through the motions but feeling a lack of zest, or optimism toward the future. While many may be experiencing these feelings, we want you to know that there are things you can do to help you cope and adjust to this new season in a way that will help you on your path to blooming–thriving and flourishing. Flourishing, according to Fredrickson and Losada (2005) essentially means living “within an optimal range of human functioning, one that connotes goodness, generativity, growth, and resilience”. We offer 5 simple tips to help you bloom in this season and new version of “normal”.
1) Be Honest With Yourself and Others When it Comes to Your Boundaries
If there is one consistent theme that’s strongly presented itself over the last year, it is that everyone has different levels of comfortability and beliefs about what is appropriate in regards to social distance, safety, vaccination, and readiness for social interactions. What can make it even more challenging? Sharing a household with others, especially across generations.
We encourage you to check in with yourself regarding what you may or may not feel comfortable with. As you begin different routines and begin to engage with the world in a manner different from what you have been, share your boundaries with others in a compassionate way. Additionally, ask non-judgmental open-ended questions to others to better understand their comfort levels as you decide on a mutual path forward.
2. Connect and Reconnect with Others
When feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, or languishing, our relationships (friendships, family relationships, marriages, partnerships, etc.) may fall by the wayside and fail to be nurtured or cultivated. Each person in our lives has experienced and coped with our global pandemic in a different manner. Additionally, strained relationships from pandemic-related stressors may be in need of repair. As you decide on how to navigate these relationships, we encourage you to check in with your loved ones and listen with an open mind. It can be helpful to ask open-ended questions: “How do you feel like we are relating?” and “Do you have any ideas about what we can do together to reconnect with one another?“. Additionally, in your response to such questions, it is always helpful to respond with “I-statements”.
3. Practice Gratitude
We know that those who frequently practice gratitude tend to experience higher levels of well-being. In the midst of ongoing losses and adjustments, you may believe that you do not have a lot to be grateful for. To this we say, just begin, and see where it takes you. We recommend spending 5-10 minutes each day to notice, reflect on, and write down what you are grateful for.
4. Reconnect With Your Hopes, Values, and Dreams
When we are in a space of feeling empty or aimless, our hopes, goals, and values can feel far far away. It can be easy to function on autopilot. Take a moment to reconnect with your core values and your “why” for living. One way to do this is to create an inspiration board where you create a collage of inspirational photos, words, phrases, and items that can remind you of your hopes, goals, values, and dreams in a tangible way. This can also be a really great family activity to help foster connection and resilience–have fun with it and get creative!
5. Create & Rediscover Moments of Joy
Each of us has different things that bring us joy in our lives. For some of us, it’s being surrounded by those we love, a quiet walk at the end of the day, or our favorite meal. For others, it’s when we’ve connected to and engaged with our creativity or learned something new. We encourage you to create a joy list—things, events, situations, people, or places that bring you joy. Be intentional about doing 1-2 items on your list each day. Notice any sensations of pleasure, happiness, or joy that come up for you.
If you are experiencing depression, you may find it difficult to currently feel joy and may have lost interest in activities you previously enjoyed. We encourage you to try at least one activity, hobby, or ritual that you have previously enjoyed. You may find that it gives you a mini mood boost during this season.
Are you struggling to connect with your joy or positive emotions? Are you feeling stuck in the feelings of languishing or possibly depression? We want to remind you that we are always here to support you, contact us for a free phone consultation.
*Please Note: The information provided on or through this website or blog is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. Engaging with this material does not constitute a client/therapist relationship*
Fredrickson, B.L., Losada, M.F. (2005). “Positive affect and complex dynamics of human flourishing”. American Psychologist. 60 (7):678-686. doi:10.1037/0003-066×60.7.678.PMC 3126111. PMID 16221001.