You’ve Done Self Care. You’ve Languished. Now Try This.

In our first session this year, my coaching client Jane told me that she has rested, given herself permission to feel down, and lowered her personal bar, just as we all have been advised to do as we wearily approach the third year of the pandemic.

But even as she goes through the motions of self care, she told me, she still feels blah. “I’m just kind of stuck,” she said. “And I don’t exactly like it.”

Jane, a 50-year-old entrepreneur who lives in New York City, isn’t alone. Many of us felt seen when, last April, the organizational psychologist Adam Grant wrote of languishing, “a sense of stagnation and emptiness … as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield.” There was a relief in having a name for our experience, and a kind of solace in realizing that we weren’t alone in experiencing it. But now, nearly a year later, as with just about everything related to Covid, we’re sick of languishing too.

We want to feel motivated, and to get unstuck. The question, of course, is: How? Sometimes when we are languishing and feeling exhausted — emotionally, physically, socially or spiritually — the best thing we can do is rest. But at a certain point, rest creates inertia. Our minds and our bodies are as recovered as they’re going to be. Yet we still feel off. At this point, many can benefit from deploying a psychological concept called behavioral activation.

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