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Are You Flourishing or Languishing

boundaries burnout healing Dec 03, 2023

I thought about everyone who subscribes to my blog when I recently read a New York Times op-ed article by best-selling author, Adam Grant. An organizational psychologist, Grant wrote the acclaimed books Originals and Think Again.

So, what was so compelling about the op-ed that I had to come and share it with you all? Well, it captured an experience I think many people have had since the COVID and post-COVID era. It's the experience of languishing - the middle child of mental health, as Grant calls it.

Some of the signs of languishing may feel familiar - difficulty concentrating, lack of motivation, sense of purposelessness (that is, not feeling connected to a larger purpose or future goals), and lack of joy and excitement.

I could go on about how these things play out in our daily lives and relationships - affecting everything from our appetite and sex drive to our desire to socialize and do the things we used to enjoy.

But the thing about languishing is that it can be very subtle and creep up without you noticing. Languishing is not the same as being depressed, but it also signals that you are not in a state of well-being or flourishing. It's like idling somewhere in the middle.

I can tell you that this phenomenon describes so many of the people that I've been working with recently. And I've even seen it play out with people close to me. So, yes, it's VERY common right now.

So, what should you do if you recognize that you are in a state of languishing? Here are a few tips to help you move closer to the state of well-being that you crave:

  • Boundaries - establishing healthy boundaries between work and leisure and in other areas of your life where you may feel you're losing your sense of self.
  • Small efforts - take small steps to support your well-being. Don't think about the big goal, rather focus on the present moment and what you can do right now. This could include 10 minutes of reading a book, cooking one day a week instead of ordering out or reaching out for a brief conversation with a friend you haven't spoken to in a while.
  • Remove distractions - part of how we deal with languishing is to further disconnect with social media, devices and other ways of distracting ourselves. Try to carve out a specified period of time each day to take away distractions and immerse yourself in something that you enjoy or that is beneficial to you. It could literally be ANYTHING - even sitting down to have a nice meal without your phone or other distractions around.
  • Mindfulness - spending 5- 10 minutes per day practicing mindfulness can significantly boost your well-being. Mindfulness is simply being in the present moment and noticing your experience and reactions without judgement. It can include deep breathing, sitting quietly, meditation, guided imagery, etc.
  • Try not to judge yourself - recognize and acknowledge what a difficult time this is for us collectively. You may be feeling isolated, but you're not in this state of languish alone.
  • Find small moments of enjoyment and engage in activities that can absorb your attention.

Let me know if the concept of languishing feels familiar to what you've experienced over the past year. I hope these tips are helpful to you.


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