If you’re feeling blah as we come out of the pandemic, the name of this feeling, according to Adam Grant of the New York Times, is “languishing.” “Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness” he writes. “It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield.” One of my psychotherapy clients put it this way: “I don’t think I’ll ever be somebody’s muse again. I don’t have that kind of creative energy, that life force. I feel flat.”
During months of lockdown, many of us enjoyed the lack of pressure to be anything other than who we were –living inside, not having to drive, produce or meet anyone else’s expectations. Yes, we missed hugging family and friends and seeing people’s faces but there was a sameness we enjoyed. Everyone was going through the same thing. Now that we are allowed out without our masks, many of us don’t want to go, don’t want to perform, have lost the drive to excel! We are struggling with the emotional aftereffects of the pandemic.
We came through the intense fear and grief of last year which kept us continually on edge. Let’s face it, it was a bit of an adrenalin high. Every day we listened to or watched newscasts about how many people died that day from Covid and we grieved with those who had lost loved ones. Focus was on how lucky we were to have survived. But now we’re in withdrawal from those intense feelings. What we feel now is a lack of motivation, inability to focus, and a failure to concentrate every time we crack open a book. I feel like I’ve aged two or three years in the last year and that thousands of brain neurons have fallen out of my ears. I can’t think! And I’m sure confused about masking. On or off?
An antidote to languishing is giving yourself a small goal each day: a challenge that matters to you—a meaningful conversation, a small project like cleaning out the trunk of your car, learning to play the ukulele, celebrating your child who was cheated out of a graduation ceremony in 2020, something that will give you a sense of satisfaction. The other side of languishing is flourishing; think about what gives you joy.