It’s not depression, but you just haven’t felt motivated, you just haven’t felt much of anything…maybe just watch one more sequence of whatever of your favorite cable picks and then you just end up bingeing. We all have probably experienced scenarios like this at some points during this now relaxing quarantine and its home restrictions. Psychologists call it languishing, just an overwhelming case of immobility that sticks with us. At some point many of us emerge like a bear from hibernation or like a perennial popping a blossom in the early Spring light, but some of us don’t. Some of us are still languishing.
How does one flip the switch from languishing to flourishing? The first step may sound like the 12 step or similar program: you need to recognize where you are on that continuum from languishing to flourishing. Those who languish hit the snooze alarm or set no alarm at all, because they don’t have a real reason to get out of bed. Okay, that’s a good starting point to begin moving that switch to flourish by taking some next steps…any or all of them:
- Reflect on your point of view. One of the secret ingredients of happiness according to psychologists is savoring, a celebration of … well, anything. One of my clients talked of celebrating the freedom vaccination gave by lingering in the produce section of the grocery story…savoring the colors, aromas and promise of a fine meal. Share your savoring experiences with close friends and family; expand the celebration. Appreciate the purpose in what you do; make that walk have a purpose by doing it with a friend.
- Connect locally. We’ve heard the expression about “random acts of kindness.” Think of them more as systematic acts, and while you are at it make a quota for yourself. Pick a number and then keep records on a short conversation with someone you meet on the street, a neighbor whose acquaintance you haven’t yet made. We all walk with our phones, so reach out to someone with whom you haven’t spoken in a while and take them on your walk with you. Recreate the community that the pandemic has taken from you.
- Try something new. Some folks talk about “retail therapy,” but you don’t have to buy anything new. However, it does help to do something new. You don’t have to change where you live if instead you explore what has been there all along: learn the names of your plants, reward yourself with identifying the birds that come to your neighborhood, identify the constellations in your night sky, and the stars and the planets.
These are just suggested starting points to flourishing. If you find another way to flourish, then it’s all the more new and therefore good for you. I encourage you to flip the switch.
Charlotte Bishop is a Caregiver Coach, an Aging Life Care Advisor, a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.