The New York Times has published some great articles this year that sum up the mood of the moment. It was the New York Times that noticed the first ‘We Have All Hit a Wall’ moment to which we all let out a sigh of ‘yes exactly’. It was also The New York Times who summed up the public mood with its headline ‘The Year of Blur‘ to describe the blurring boundaries that we were all noticing between work and home.
Well, a few weeks ago they hit the nail on the head again with the article ‘There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing‘. If you haven’t seen this article then it is definitely worth a read. The article describes the ‘blah’ feeling of languishing as not quite the hopelessness of depression, but also not quite feeling yourself and not having a spring in your step even with the hope of the vaccination programme in the air.
Languishing is a term from the field of positive psychology, often thought of as being at the other end of the wellbeing continuum, with flourishing being the star of the show and languishing being its opposite.
As this week is Mental Health Awareness Week we thought we would start with flourishing as an offering. How do we flourish in life? How can we recharge our emotional batteries after the 15 months we have all had to navigate, and how do we get a sense of purpose back?
The good news is that the scientific evidence related to flourishing is robust, and numerous studies show simple activities can lead to marked improvement in overall well-being. Here are some ideas to set yourself up for flourishing:
1. Savour and celebrate small things.
Acknowledging small moments is really important for well-being. Psychologists call it “savouring.” Savouring is about appreciating an event or activity in the moment, sharing tiny victories and noticing the good things around you. You could start by sharing a photograph of one of the most meaningful things that has happened to you through the pandemic, sharing photos with colleagues and friends and savouring them together.
2. Take an Awe Walk.
Had enough of walks? Then shift things up a gear by taking an awe walk. An “awe walk” is a stroll in which you intentionally shift your attention outward instead of inward. So, you’re not thinking about the tight deadline, the unfinished project, the strain in your relationship with your spouse, or concerns about the coronavirus. A study published in September 2020 in the journal Emotion found evidence that a regular dose of awe can boost positive feelings.
3. Do five good deeds.
Acts of kindness not only help others; they also can help you flourish. Research shows that performing five acts of kindness in a single day, once a week, can have a powerful effect.