Do you have a case of the Mondays? Every. Damn. Day? You’re not depressed exactly, you’re just kinda…meh. Unmotivated. Stagnant. Stuck. In this post, I’ll define that MEH feeling and give you some strategies to break through the fog of feeling….just kinda….I mean….whatever.
I’m always on the lookout for new ways to help my clients move into happier, more productive frames of mind. But these last 2 years in the COVID pandemic have put a whole new level of mental stress on us all. In December 2021, Adam Grant wrote a wildly popular New York Times article that finally gave language to the experience so many of us had been having. Languishing. According to Grant:
“Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being.”
Or in the words of Harvey Danger’s flagpole sitta…I’m not sick, but I’m not well.
Society recognizes illness. We know the signs of depression, anxiety, and burnout. But what about a lack of joy, purpose, drive?
When I think about languishing I think about a normal curve. So much of modern psychology has focused on the abnormal psych. How to “fix” unwell states. But what if we aren’t sick…..but we aren’t well. We aren’t Flourishing? We’re just kinda stuck in this rut of …meh-ness.
How has languishing appeared in your world? Are you trying to reclaim a bit of that lost freedom from pandemic lockdown by staying up too late binge watching TV? Are you not as committed to your exercise or healthy eating routines? When we name the experience and see how many others relate, it can be a powerful step to overcoming that lackluster feeling.
But other than just naming it, how else can we begin to solve the problem of languishing? Adam Grant argues we need to find some semblance of flow again. A way of becoming fully immersed and engaged in an activity. Be it work or play, a small movement towards fewer fragmented pieces of time. While many of us do actually have MORE time in these modern, work from home days, the time we have is so fragmented (hi dogs, kids, laundry, groceries, husband, spilled coffee, zoom meeting, email ping) it essentially creates leisure time in what author Brigid Schulte calls time confetti – bits of seconds and minutes that belong to us but we can’t stitch together into productive time in flow states of relaxation or work. In other words…we are once again LINGERING, LANGUISHING in this intermediate state. Never full in or full out of work or rest.
One of the best strategies for busting through these states is to set strict boundaries around distractions and multitasking. When we minimize the scissors of distraction that cut into our time, we can begin to move more consistently towards feeling more productive, and create small movements toward some of the energy and enthusiasm of not just being NOT SICK but being ACTUALLY WELL again.