Mental Health Check: How To Move Past "Languishing" And Thrive Once Again
"I'm feeling kind of meh."
How many times have you heard that before? In this pandemic, it's seemingly become a standard answer, and for good reason. In 2020, fear took up most of our time in the early days of the pandemic. But soon, people started to adapt to this new normal. The factor of caution fatigue, which left us feeling worn out and demotivated, took over. People developed their own day to day routines, which made things a bit more bearable, but still far from the previous normality of 2019.
The pandemic has also proven to be among the darkest times for some people. Frontline workers are tired, people have lost loved ones. These are difficult times, but for those of us who have been relatively less affected, we've come to a point somewhere in the middle. The New York Times was the first to shed light on the phenomenon, dubbing it as "languishing", an emotional state that finds itself somewhere in the grey go-betweens of "being okay" and "not really". If you are in a state of languish, you may feel joyless and or aimless, but not necessarily depressed.
On the other hand, the opposite of languishing is thriving. We've heard that term a handful of times, but the question remains: how can we thrive when we aren't able to do so many of the things we previously could? It's difficult to find ways to go around this when so many of our options remain inaccessible to this day. There's also plenty of uncertainty about the future, which leads to stress that could impair our ability to think creatively or think with our full capacity. For a lot of us then, we're on autopilot; and it's hard to be the best we can be when we're in this kind of mindset.
How To Thrive In A Pandemic
If you aren't exactly thriving at the moment, don't feel too bad. Not a lot of people are, and even from a biological point of view, it's not their fault. Fortunately though, there are still people who have managed to find growth amid the pandemic (and they don't necessarily have to be the exception). One of the ways people have thrived is by creating or focusing on a project. Plenty of people have started online businesses; some have used this method as a means to earn extra income amid a time of economic instability. Other people do it as a way to share their hobbies or interests gained during lockdown. Either way, a project like this could help give you a sense of focus and for online entrepreneurs, even a sense of socialisation when interacting with customers.
Another way people can thrive during the pandemic is through altruism. Forbes suggested this as a way to gain meaning and a sense of satisfaction. One of the most notable ways this has come about amid Filipino society is through community pantries. Building your own or volunteering at a neighbourhood community pantry can help not just yourself thrive, but your neighbourhood as well.
Uncertainty Amid The Times
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in learning how to thrive amid a pandemic is the fact that there's so much uncertainty. In the Philippines, there has been a constant adjustment of quarantine protocol—and it comes every two weeks. It's difficult to maintain focus when so much is changing outside our homes, and yet, not much is truly changing in terms of our lifestyle.
We've been through many different iterations of community quarantines, knowing that at any moment, a new variant could emerge or a new wave could come upon us. If you aren't thriving in the pandemic because of this, it's okay. Again, a lot of people have been languishing—and it's our guess that that's the reason why the original New York Times piece blew up online. A lot of people could relate. Listen to your body and do your best, but don't allow your mind to bully you into thinking you must thrive at the moment when resources are limited and options are scarce.
The most important thing to remember during this critical time is to stay healthy and to reach out to support systems—family, friends, mental health professionals—if necessary. Individuals or groups may not be thriving at the moment, but there's no doubt that if they continue to stay healthy and safe, they certainly will one day in the future.
Read also: National Stress Awareness Day: 5 Easy Tips To Curb Your Stress Levels