The New York Times recently came out with an article entitled: “There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing.”
Languishing means to feel dispirited, joyless and stagnant. It is a term that describes what many of us are experiencing in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic and the political and societal strife we have witnessed over the past year. As the article states, now that we are out of the more intense phase of the pandemic, but still experiencing uncertainty about what comes next, many are feeling uninspired, discouraged and confused.
The tricky thing about languishing, is that it tends to develop so slowly that we become acclimated to it and don’t even realize we’re experiencing it.
So how do we deal with it? The article states that the best way to stop languishing is to experience more states of flow. A flow state is one where your feel a sense of presence and connectedness to the experience you are having in that moment. The key is to find an activity that is challenging enough to require focus, but not so challenging that it leaves you feeling discouraged.
If you think you are languishing, here are some suggestions for achieving that state of flow that might help.
Find Activities that you Enjoy
What do you like to do? What activities have the ability to engage your senses and sustain your focused attention? Perhaps you’d like to revisit a hobby you’ve tried in the past, or maybe you’d like to learn something new.
The fact is that the activities that trigger a flow state are endless. Your first task is to discover one that might appeal to you. It could be cooking, listening to music, playing music, painting with watercolor, acrylic or oils, making jewelry, joining a team sport, roller skating or bike riding, yoga, writing, drawing, fishing, bird watching, swimming, gaming online or playing board games with friends.
Choose one thing this week and experiment with getting into the flow state.
Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away; simply try again or choose a new activity and give it a shot.
Ground Yourself in the Moment
One of the key features of being in a flow state is being present in your body—which translates into your being present in the now. If you’re engaging in an activity, whether it’s watching Netflix, beading a necklace or playing a board game—do your best to ground yourself in the moment and the physical sensation of your body.
Whenever you find your mind wandering and taking you out of the present moment—which it will—simply notice that your mind is wandering.
Then. gently bring your awareness back to our body, to your immediate environment, and to the activity you are engaged in.
If you’re encountering some resistance, find more clarity about your motivation
If you are finding yourself resistant to attempting a flow-inducing activity, it might be time to get clarity on what is motivating you and what is holding you back.
One way to do this is through a simple “Pros and Cons” list.
Get a blank sheet of paper and write down your options. The first option would be to engage in the flow activity; for example, “Go for a bike ride”. The second option would be to not engage in the flow activity; for example. “Don’t go for a bike ride. ”Next, draw 4 boxes in the middle of your paper. On one side of the line write “Pros of going for a ride” and on the other side write “Cons of going for a ride.” Then, simply list the pros and cons. You will repeat the same for “Pros of not going for a ride” and “Cons of not going for a ride”. By assessing all 4 sides of these arguments, we can better help ourselves understand the resistance.
It may sound simple—it is simple! But it is often surprising to clients how clarifying it can be. Simply knowing what is motivating you or holding you back can help you to get out of your head and make a decision. And if you decide not to engage in the flow activity, that’s okay! Don’t beat yourself up. Just come back to it when you’re ready, and try again.