Mindfulness Aids Post-Pandemic Mental Health

May 31, 2021 | work, writing

Anyone else ready to get back to some semblance of normal after the last 16 months? 

Yeah, me too. 

As new COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in the state of Georgia and elsewhere, changing your routine to reintroduce day-to-day activities that involve face-to-face contact requires cognitive effort, i.e., a large mental push from our brains. This can prove difficult when a large portion of the population might be facing a post-pandemic phenomenon called languishing, made popular earlier this year in a New York Times article penned by organizational psychologist Adam Grant. Grant describes languishing as a “sense of stagnation and emptiness.” This feeling comes as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at life through a foggy windshield. And, as he predicts, it could be the dominant emotion of 2021, even as the pandemic has started to turn around in the United States.  

Languishing isn’t burnout — people who feel it still have energy. It’s not depression, either — they don’t feel hopeless. It’s described more as feelings of joylessness or aimlessness. 

On the heels of Mental Health Awareness Month (a yearly initiative by NAMI, the National Alliance of Mental Illness), a lot of people may still be struggling with the mental after-effects of the last year. Burnout, depression, and yes, languishing, are all emotions exacerbated by the pandemic. 

The key to battling the languishing blahs? Overall, scientists and researchers agree that practicing mindfulness or even simply putting words to feelings a person is experiencing can help shift your brain from a languishing state to a flourishing one. 

If you’re new to the idea of mindfulness, it’s a type of meditation that involves intense focus on what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without giving in to the need to judge or interpret those feelings. The great thing about practicing mindfulness is that it’s simple to start, and uses a combination of breathing methods and guided imagery designed to relax your body and mind to reduce stress. These exercises can be done anytime and pretty much anywhere, whether you’re remaining remote or coming back to an office.

Managers can help employees as they tap into being more mindful about their work and lives by setting clear goals, giving employees the time and resources they need, and verbally acknowledging their work and progress. Remaining flexible with work/life balance and leading by example will also maintain trust in your employees as they move back into their work routines. 

This article appeared in the June issue of Townelaker and Around Woodstock magazine. Find a copy locally in Cherokee County at available newsstands or read more online.

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