In 2020, office life quickly became about adapting to a rapidly changing environment. To survive, businesses had to go remote and do it fast. And for a time, this rapidly changing environment kept people on their toes.
It made people focus on the challenges of making remote work function successfully. And for a while, this was enough. People were so busy adapting to life during the pandemic and maintaining their work, survival was sufficient to get through the year.
Well, actually there was hope that rising vaccination rates and lifted restrictions would act like some sort of magic bullet. That it would help improve everyone’s mood and generally uplift society.
Except, of course, it’s not that simple. And the vaccination rates and restrictions were not the magic bullet.
After all, there’s been over a year of isolation, trauma, grief, and general uncertainty. Getting back to normal will take time. And work.
Psychologists are predicting that with lower mortality rates, better mental heath care, and digital tools, recovery time shouldn’t be that long this time.
But it will take time.
A sociologist coined languishing to be a state of being between flourishing (good mental health) and serious mental health conditions like anxiety or depression.
People who are languishing tend to have trouble focusing. They also have a sense of emptiness and stagnation and feeling of aimlessness. Basically, you feel like you are muddling through the days. Each day pretty much the same as the last, and will be the same as the next.
This is a problem for businesses. Short-term, the problems are that the employees feeling like this tend to struggle with focus and motivation. Which means their productivity declines and they need to take time off.
Long-term, there is research which suggests people who experience languishing persistently are more likely to experience major anxiety or depression over the next 10 years.
Mental health is a tricky subject at the best of times. But how to approach it in the workplace? And how to do so when you have a remote team? It can be difficult to manage, but there are a number of things that can be done to help manage and even beat that pervasive sense of languishing.
Here are 7 ways to manage that languishing feeling:
Large goals, on their own, can seem daunting and difficult to start at the best of times. But if you are experiencing languishing, it is infinitely more so. Breaking large goals and projects down into smaller, more manageable steps can help improve concentration and productivity.
And these goals don’t have to be only work-related, they can be goals for your home life as well. For the office, breaking large projects and tasks into smaller steps and goals helps to stretch your skills and provide an increase sense of accomplishment.
In the digital age, it is easy to get bombarded by messages, calls, and emails. Finding the time to focus exclusively on one thing can be difficult. For those who are languishing, who are finding it difficult to be motivated, or to care, interruptions are the ideal distraction. And the ideal excuse.
After all, it is not your fault someone emailed you with something they think is urgent. You had to do it. Obviously, this does not help with productivity, but it also makes it harder to go from languishing to flourishing. Or, from languishing to not languishing as badly.
The easiest way to stay on track and help yourself is to turn off notifications while you’re working. If you are not a fan of turning off notifications the whole day you work, you can turn them off for a few hours. This will help you better focus on what’s in front of you.
Taking a break is good for two things: your mental health, and productivity. In fact, you’ll notice a lot of these tips to help manage languishing is very similar to tips on productivity.
Go no a holiday. You do not have to go far, but having a 3- or 4-day weekend can make a world of difference to your mental health. Whether that be relaxing at home or booking into a hotel for a few days taking time off can significantly help recharge mental batteries.
You can do yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises. Essentially you want to immerse yourself in an activity that will help you to live in the now. That is: to learn to work with what is happening rather than work against it.
Read more on how to practice Deep Work to increase mindfulness.
What makes any of us happy? It’s a big question. But it’s important to focus on what makes you happy. Not what you think should make you happy. And the distinction is an important one. It does not have to be anything big.
Maybe you start a little herb garden in the kitchen, read a book, go for a walk in the park, or start a hobby. Essentially, find what brings you joy and it will do great things to help improve your mental health.
We humans are social creatures. Even hermits and recluses crave the occasional conversation and human connection. It does not even have to be a long conversation. The briefest of exchanges from a passer by can help energize and invigorate us.
The internet has helped keep people connected and in touch. But it’s that in-person interaction that really helps to make us feel better.
To go from languishing to flourishing research has found that finding meaning and purpose in everyday life is key. It comes down to three things: daily routines, connection and meaning.
Finding daily routines, starting new hobbies, talking daily with friends and family. All of these things can help you feel that you are more than just okay. It can help you feel like you have a sense of purpose.
A sense of purpose can help one go from languishing to flourishing. Or, at least, start on the path to flourishing.
Staying connected, breaking tasks down into small steps, and blocking out time during the day are all things that can done with project management software.
Stay connected using in-built messenger, and real-time commenting on tasks and projects. This makes staying in touch easy and seamless. Which is great for remote workers who often find it difficult to stay in touch. And for employers that often find communicating with remote workers clunky.
By being able to directly comment on tasks, and then reassign to the necessary person ensures tasks don’t go missing and everyone stays accountable.
Projects are broken down in to task lists and subtask lists. Making projects easier to manage and easier to get started on. These tasks lists are great for those who like progress—that is, you get to tick off a whole lot of tasks giving you an increased sense of accomplishment.
Languishing is a real problem—not some marketing buzzword. The most important thing to do if you are feeling like this is to try and reach out to people and have a conversation. Or, if you are a hermit, go for a walk, watch a movie that makes you feel good.
Ideally do something that makes you happy, and understand that languishing is a real problem many are facing at the moment.