By Ashley Velez
Anyone else ready to get back to some semblance of normal after the past 16 months? Yeah, me, too.
As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in the state of Georgia and elsewhere, changing your routine to reintroduce daily activities that involve face-to-face contact requires cognitive effort, i.e., a large mental push from our brains. This can prove difficult when a large portion of the population may be facing a post-pandemic phenomenon called languishing, a term made popular earlier this year in a New York Times article penned by organizational psychologist Adam Grant.
Grant describes languishing as a “sense of stagnation and emptiness.” This feeling materializes as muddling through your days, looking at life through a foggy windshield. He predicts it could be the dominant emotion of 2021, even as the pandemic has started to turn around in the United States. Languishing isn’t burnout; people who feel it still have energy. It’s not depression, either, because they don’t feel hopeless. It’s described more as feelings of joylessness or aimlessness.
On the heels of Mental Health Awareness Month, a lot of people still might be struggling with the mental after effects of the past year. Burnout, depression and, yes, languishing, are all emotions exacerbated by the pandemic.
What’s the key to battling the languishing blahs? Overall, scientists and researchers agree that practicing mindfulness, or even simply putting words to feelings, can help shift our brains from a languishing state to a flourishing one.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that involves intense focus on what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without giving in to the need to judge or interpret those feelings. The great thing about practicing mindfulness is, it’s simple to start and uses a combination of breathing methods and guided imagery designed to relax your body and mind, and reduce stress. These exercises can be done anytime and almost anywhere, whether you’re remaining remote or going back to an office.
Managers can help employees as they tap into being more mindful about their work and lives by setting clear goals, giving employees time and resources they need, and verbally acknowledging their work and progress. Remaining flexible with work-life balance and leading by example also will foster trust among employees as they move back into their work routines.