How refreshing would it be if the next time someone asked us how we are doing we answered with “I’m burnt out” or “I’m exhausted” or “I’ve overwhelmed” or how about “I’m languishing”? And what if the answer we heard back was “oh my gosh, me too. Thanks for sharing.”
I’ll be the first to admit that in the corporate environment, if someone asked me how I was, I put on a smile and said, “I’m good, thanks.” I had a team and didn’t want to bring them down. I wanted to appear strong. But as time went on during COVID, it got harder for me to say “I’m OK”. Trying to juggle being on calls most of the day while supporting my two sons, ages 6 and 8, in virtual schooling is HARD. And downright EXHAUSTING. And I know many of you feel the same way in your situations. Putting on that smile took a heck of a lot of effort.
A few months ago one of my coworkers asked me how I was doing it – holding everything together so well between the long workdays and having my kids at home. I started crying over our video chat and told her “I’m not, I’m just putting on a facade”. I felt her lower her guard as I shared my truth. She was not alone.
Shortly after that I let my team into my personal life a bit more. They saw me yelling at my kids and my frustration with trying to juggle everything. I also started letting my kids sit on my lap more for meetings and cancelling unnecessary calls so I could help them more during the school day and my team could get time back as well. I was languishing and I could tell many of them were too.
What is languishing?
It was first shared in a New York Times article in April and is a phrase coined by University sociologist Corey Keyes that means:
A sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.
Finally! A way to describe this fog we go in and out of over the course of our day, sometimes multiple times! The emotion behind our demotivation, lack of energy and increased sadness.
So, what can we do about it? In addition to recognizing that most of us ARE in fact languishing and be OK with it, here are 7 tips that I find help me:
1. Speak the truth when someone asks you how you are. We all feel better when we know we’re not the only ones feeling a certain way. Try saying, “I’m languishing” on those days when you are.
2. Watch / read the news less and try to avoid it right before bed or first thing in the morning. The news is full of negativity and while important, shouldn’t be how we start or end our day for the sake of our mental health.
3. Get outside – even just 20 minutes every day. There are numerous, proven health benefits to being outside such as reduced anxiety and improved mood.
4. Eat a well-balanced diet. As much as we want to binge on junk food and perhaps alcohol right now, doing so negatively impacts our mood and our health.
5. Sleep! Aim for 7-9 hours a night. A good night’s sleep does wonders for us, including improving our mood and focus.
6. Exercise. Exercise increases levels of serotonin in our bodies which helps our brain improve our mood, amongst many other health benefits.
7. Stay connected. Social outings are slim to none right now but a phone call with a family member or friend can do wonders on your mood. And picture all the hugging we will get to do in person hopefully very soon! I’d love to hear any tips on how you’re dealing with languishing. Comment below or send me a message.
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