What to do About "Languishing" in Covid Year Two
An article in the New York Times described a new phrase, “pandemic languishing”. The author defined languishing as “... a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.”
Reading about this provided us a lifeline to understand what we are experiencing, along with everyone else, because the general message from the media continues to be relentlessly negative and fearful - click bait is the antithesis of flourishing. In our ongoing discussion, we are dedicated to finding and sharing coping mechanisms, antidotes, and a way forward.
“As scientists and physicians work to treat and cure the physical symptoms of long-haul Covid, many people are struggling with the emotional long-haul of the pandemic. It hit some of us unprepared as the intense fear and grief of last year faded.”
There is a real risk in this pandemic time that people are too worn out to release irritation and annoyance, let alone muster the energy to be grateful. But we know that making the effort to practice gratitude can be one of the most powerful antidotes for languishing, so we are going to offer the simplest, easiest “recipe” for joy through gratitude. It’ll be so straightforward that even those of us who are in pain may be able to adopt it.
How might gratitude apply to the awareness one has sometimes of an irritant, like not being able to find that one product you need on the store shelf? In times like these, small things that we might otherwise handle with grace and ease can become flashpoints that hijack our civility. What to do?
We can notice the irritation, we can name it, and we can accept that we are irritated. But rather than going all “Cujo” over it, we can channel the energy into the wish process, and then allow the Universe to take over. That doesn’t mean we drop the topic, though. What it does mean is that we have the next conversation - in this case with a shopkeeper - in grace and good humor, instead of annoyance and negativity. Have you ever noticed that service providers are the most eager to help customers who are pleasant and grateful? That’s how the situation of an irritant, for example, can be turned into an opportunity for a wish, a desired outcome, and a round of gratitude for receiving what was wanted.
Let’s look at an example. Suppose when you notice an irritation - you can’t find your favorite brand in the store - you make a wish. “I want to find my favorite brand easily and expeditiously.” Within two days, you discover that the shop around the corner, which doesn’t carry your favorite product, does carry a substitute they recommend that equally meets your needs. You then follow up that purchase with a round of gratitude, pausing to really feel the smile, the warm heart, and the satisfaction of being able to move ahead.
One thing that is necessary is to harvest the positive feelings that a gratitude practice evokes. How do I do that? It’s like when you’re dehydrated and you reach for a hydrating beverage - water, juice, electrolytes, etc. You may feel yourself languishing from thirst, so make sure you reach for anything that can evoke feelings of gratitude. It might be as simple as feeling comfortable in your body at that moment, or the sun shining on your face, or that you have something tasty in the refrigerator for lunch later. It doesn't have to be big.
Recognize it, thank the universe for it - or anyone who was directly involved in its provision - and hold that thought while the feeling of satisfaction, happiness, fulfillment, calm - whatever the feeling is - forms in you. And then make a memory of that feeling, maybe attach some small memorable symbol to it, and tuck it away in your mind to bolster yourself for the rest of the day. We especially like counting up the things for which we are grateful for at the end of the day and resting into that goodness as we drift off to sleep.
The next time you feel like you are walking through quicksand, or you feel that spark of internal outrage, or you simply identify with the notion of languishing, STOP! Make a choice to realize your power to change the situation, first by thinking a different thought - one of appreciation and gratitude - and then feel those feelings, invite the flow of goodness in instead of negativity to fill you with joy.
Until next time!
Peace and All Good
Margie and Barbara
The Wish Mavens
The photo featured in this post was taken by (and is copyrighted by) Margaret A. Herrick.