An article by psychologist Adam Grant has been doing the rounds this week. He identifies a collective feeling resulting from the emotional long-haul of the pandemic. It’s not burnout, depression or hopelessness but a kind of foggy aimlessness he calls “languishing.”
“In the early, uncertain days of the pandemic, it’s likely that your brain’s threat detection system — called the amygdala — was on high alert for fight-or-flight,” he says, “As you learned that masks helped protect us — but package-scrubbing didn’t— you probably developed routines that eased your sense of dread. But the pandemic has dragged on, and the acute state of anguish has given way to a chronic condition of languish.”
Inspiration, not information
“You have to collect the dots to connect the dots,” goes the saying. There’s a reason we often have our best ideas in the shower or cycling to work.
If you find yourself uninspired, leave the screen and engage in activities that untangle complex thoughts and lead to creativity. In “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear,” writer Elizabeth Gilbert encourages playfulness, “There’s a difference between being original and being authentic. The latter is ultimately more valuable.” Write freely without overthinking, go for a swim, or look at old letters. These are times that nobody has experienced before. Understanding our feelings can lead to breakthrough ideas and innovation. But first, make time to play and explore.
Find new ways to connect with your team
During Mental Health Awareness Week, a colleague organized a team walk and entered the occasion in our calendars as a meeting. I went for the same walk I have been on for over a year of working from home in lockdown but this time we shared photos and videos in real-time from Minnesota to Amsterdam. It was a simple way to boost team spirit and get moving.
Ease in gently
As lockdowns lift, the idea of going from zero to 100, or from only talking to your cat for a year to a raucous team-building, bottomless brunch can feel daunting to the most extroverted. It’s OK to leave an event early, turn a few down or refrain from revealing the inner workings of your psyche to Nick from Accounting.
Plan your first face-to-face
Just as Zoom quizzes have lost their luster, many of us are finding it hard to chat with loved ones or colleagues on FaceTime. It serves as a reminder of how long it has been since we’ve seen them in person. Many airlines are offering flexible trips and free cancellations. Putting a date in the diary could be the boost you need. Check for requirements using CWT Travel Essentials.