written by DWKC Membership Director Lou Drews
We have collectively been living with this upheaval for over 2 years. Not only are we still dealing with COVID, but the world is just very heavy right now. We are constantly being bombarded with bad news everywhere we turn. (And don’t even get me started on my 2 am doom scrolling habit...)
We’re all struggling in our own ways - and, if you’re like me, you keep trying to get yourself to snap out of it. I have a good family, my job is secure….why do I still feel blah?
That blah feeling is called “languishing” and the pandemic has really put it on the map. The New York Times describes languishing as a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It's not a total sense of giving up or even depression, it’s more of going through the motions of life, finding it very hard to find joy.
For me, I am still functioning (maybe not at full capacity), but I’m not thriving either. From the outside, I’m sure it looks like I am doing perfectly fine. But there is that inner turmoil that languishing presents where I am constantly thinking “is this it?"
There is a song out right now that really captured what I was feeling, “Numb Little Bug", with lyrics like: “Do you ever get a little bit tired of life; Like you're not really happy but you don't wanna die; Like you're hanging by a thread but you gotta survive.” So - what do we do to shake that blah feeling?
The first step for me was to put a name to it, describe how I was feeling, and commiserate with colleagues, peers, friends, and family.
My younger self would have just trudged through it, thinking there was something wrong with me. The story I was telling myself became the dominant voice in my head. Now that I am mid-way through my career, I am much more comfortable with my emotions and can recognize that this isn’t typically me.
Fortunately and unfortunately, I am not alone. The New York Times named languishing the dominant emotion of 2021. Below are some tips that have helped me over the years:
Recognize the creep. Languishing is not something that happens overnight. It is more insidious and creeps in slowly. For me, I notice it more in my family life when it’s hard for me to find joy in the small things I do with my kids. Notice when you stop enjoying things you used to enjoy - learn to recognize that feeling so that you know when it is happening.
Don’t suffer in silence. Part of recognizing and moving past this feeling is to name it and talk about. Normalizing it for others will also normalize for you. There is not something wrong with you. This is just an emotion that you are feeling right now - and it will eventually pass.
Don’t just power through it. Take some time to assess when you feel that languishing feeling creeping in. What is triggering it? Are you under-rested? Overwhelmed at work? Too long scrolling on your phone or constantly checking the news? Then work at changing your behavior, creating new habits, or setting boundaries depending on your personal triggers.
Find your joys. The blahs will come. It is hard to escape them - we're only human! Positive vibes can only last so long. When you’re in a good state of mind, take the time to document what brings you joy and how you can cultivate that joy when your heads deep in storm clouds.
Vacation everyday. What are the things you do on vacation that you don’t do every day? Mine is napping and drinking coffee outside with no sense of time or care… Take the time to do those things. Whether you find 15 minutes during your day or if you are able to gift yourself an entire day of feeding your soul little moments of peace.
Check-in with yourself - and check in on your people. We all have something going on and it's much easier to move past the a case of the blahs when we are doing it together.