This pandemic has certainly challenged all of us in many ways. The NYT put out a piece recently and said the feeling of 2021 may be "languishing." The place between flourishing and depression. I think we all can relate to that feeling of just getting by, not feeling very motivated or joyous. It's impossible to feel positive all of the time.
That being said, there have been moments of joy and peace during the pandemic for all of us. It's so vital to actively seek out and cultivate joy. One of the things I like to do when I'm feeling blah is dance. I put on a song I love and move my body however I want. It brings me a sense of release and reinvigorates me. Working from home lets me do this whenever I need it, and I don't have to worry about how others will perceive me. It's great!
How have you noticed your mental health changing during the pandemic? What things are you doing to navigate the ups and downs of this time?
During the past year's pandemic, I decided to do things to enhance my life, things that I didn't have enough time for earlier. My exercise class went to zoom so naturally I followed. We all had our mats, weights, bands, balls at home, so that became easy and I have loved not having to drive to a gym. I also have taken up yoga with Silver Sneakers online and now devote up to 5 hours a week working out instead of 2. Secondly I found that this has been a great time for prayer and meditation, reading Holy Writings, studying the history of my Faith. Therefore I joined a group from the west coast on zoom reading the DAWNBREAKERS, a history of the Faith. I never missed a meeting from Oct. 2020 to May 2021. I have educated myself about the history of slavery and systemic racism by reading some new books published since last summer. I participate in zoom meetings with advocacy groups as well as with my Faith group. I have more time since I am not driving to meetings but can just click on at home and join people from around the world. I also have more discretionary cash so I have been able to give more support to food banks and other charitable entities. I would say that because of the aforementioned activities, I have flourished. Now I am getting back to seeing my friends and having that personal contact which nothing can replace. And I certainly look forward to going to a movie on the big screen soon.
I read that NYT article, but I'd have to disagree with the organizational psychologist who wrote it. From the clinical and therapeutic perspective of the emotional functionality of individuals, versus the workplace culture of organizations, I'd say that there is a vast spectrum of mental health and mood statuses between thriving and depression, and languishing is not by any means in the middle of that spectrum. Languishing also is not a condition that happens to us, it is a choice we make, and a sign of overwhelm if not of depression itself.
Sudden and scary disruption to what we expect to be normal life is certainly a cognitive and emotional shock that leaves many people disoriented, anxious, and angry. What we choose to do with those feelings and how we choose to react to the uncertainty of how long the disruption will last points to our innate capacity for resilience.
Resilience comes from curiosity, from seeking the opportunities hidden within the disruption. Resilience is an antidote to languishing.
As an introvert, I've always appreciated "alone time". For me, I feel like I'm languishing when my life requires group socializing in person, like business networking breakfasts, dreaded cocktail parties, or inane community or business staff meetings, even when those are productive and courteous which often they are not.
So pandemic isolation hasn't been the terrible situation for me that it has been for those who are more extroverted. I've met the last year+ as the opportunity to write, read, research, commune with Nature, and expand ways of being and release ways of doing.
Thanks for sharing your perspective and wisdom @DeahWA. As someone that has depression and anxiety, the term languishing really resonated with me because I can so relate to that feeling of just getting by. The pandemic has certainly increased the speed at which I experience ups and downs. It really has been a constant roller coaster.
I fully agree that resilience is the antidote! It takes time to build up resilience and it's something I practice frequently. Reminding myself to embrace my inner child, remain curious, lean into playfulness, and be silly helps me a lot when I'm feeling stuck. I recently tried a laughing mediation, and it was so fun and left me feeling lighter 😀
@AARPRachelA I love the idea of a laughing meditation. Could you describe it for us, or post a video?
I'm old enough to remember Norman Cousins included laughter therapy in his treatment plan for an illness he suffered way back in the 60s. And in the 80s there was a person touring on the concept of the healing power of laughter. It really does change our biochemstry. Even the composition of tears is different depending on whether we are laughing from grief or from something super funny.
Here's the mediation I used @DeahWA. I listen on Spotify, but I believe the free Shine meditations are accessible on any podcasting service. The whole time I kept thinking to myself, "Laughter really is the best medicine."
Since the pandemic a lot of companies are having their customer service Representatives work from home. This is bringing bad customer service to some companies. I find it difficult to get my questions answered correctly and efficiently. I'm being placed on hold for a long period of time. To rectify some of this I call earlier in the day or I tried not to call on a Monday or a Friday.
@AARPRachelA Music and dancing and walking and nature are great mental health pick me ups. Looking about focus:
To much focus on the past can lead to depression.
To much focus on the future can lead to anxiety and worry.
Focusing on the present can equal gratitude
If we spend to much time looking into the future, it turns from future-focus , to problem focus, to worry and anxiety.
Of course we have to plan for the future, but don't stay in that state. Stay in the present as often as you can. Each day has a set of it's own problems, but it also has a great deal of things to have gratitude for. Dance, dance dance! Christine
I find that I have gotten impatient with people who don't understand the ;wear a mask and distance' concept. So I have gotten angrier and got a heavy bag to hang in my garage and that is the first thing I do when I come home from anywhere. I beat the heck out of it - which helps me control my anger. Even though I am fully vaccinated, I still worry about getting sick. I won't ride up in an elevator at work if someone else gets in - I usually get out. It has made me more cautious. I have noticed that I worry more about my health and the future. I set up my rowing machine and got a converter for my bike so I could still exercise in the winter and not worry about not being able to go to the gym.
I completely relate to your feelings of anger, frustration and caution @ShirleyW520350. I really like that you set up a punching bag. It can feel really good to release anger in a healthy way like that! I ball up old newspaper and throw it when I'm feeling particularly mad or frustrated. That makes me feel better. I have definitely been doing that more throughout the entire pandemic.
My wife and I like to get out of our house and take one hour walks on the town forest trails every day, just like we used to before the pandemic put us in a funk. It was hard to get motivated when you couldn't even go to the grocery store without worrying. With our 2 vaccinations over and warmer weather here we have been taking those walks, getting exercise, clearing our minds, and enjoying the fresh air. We will been back on the bicycle trails soon too. And best of all for our mental health will be seeing our grandkids again!
I'm a big fan of walks! They help clear my head and it always feels good to get outside. You're lucky that you have forest and nature trails close by! I'm in DC proper, and thankfully there are some great parks close by. I often go to the National Arboretum to walk with the dog and marvel at the plants, flowers and trees. It's a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of our neighborhood.
I hope you are able to reunite with your grandkids soon @postman29!