What’s going on? It’s it’s harder than it used to be to concentrate. I find myself staying up late to play computer games on my ipad. I don’t want to talk to anybody. It seems like there are more “Star Trek” days than usual. (For those of you who don’t know, Star Trek TNG is my go-to major stress reliever.)
Other people I know mentioned that they just didn’t want to do anything. Sitting and staring was a popular indoor activity. And most of us didn’t seem in a hurry to get together. We all said, “As soon as the restrictions are lifted, we’ll have to at least meet for coffee.” And we all said “Yes! Of course!” and never set a date.
What IS going on?
We’re coping – or not coping – with the blahs. Meh is my mental response to most everything. Or sometimes flat-out anger. (See last Tuesday’s newsletter…) It’s not depression; I just don’t care.
According to a recent on-line article by the New York Times, we are “languishing.” (April 19, 2021) Languishing is how we are coping with the isolation, uncertainty, and general malaise of these Covid days. Languishing is not depression; none of us are feeling hopeless. Just, well, listless. We are a long way from flourishing, which is jumping out of bed in the morning eager to start the day. That is definitely not me.
I had an appointment with my Primary Care Doctor recently – just a routine checkup – and I mentioned my feelings. I asked him if he had come across this in others.
“Absolutely!” he said emphatically. (Mental sigh of relief from me.) “And the problem is, there’s no help available. All the mental health people are backed up for months. Nobody can get an appointment.”
Whoa. What can we do? We’re on our own.
Well. The first step is naming it. By naming it we give it a shape, a boundary if you will. Coping with the blahs is not the same as coping with major depression, for example. It’s something we can handle, if we know what we’re dealing with.
Once we start naming it – and owning it – we’ll start noticing it all around us. It’s like when we buy a new red car – we see new red cars everywhere. And when people ask us how we are, let’s be honest. Instead of automatically saying “Fine” – the usual non-answer in our society, let’s just say, “Well, I’m coping with the blahs.” Betcha they’ll say they are too – which is a good opportunity to start a meaningful conversation.
Next, try to create opportunities to be in “flow.” Flow is that state where we are so absorbed in something that we don’t notice the passage of time or place. A friend of mine gets into that state when she’s quilting. Coloring sometimes does that for me, or any absorbing creative activity that is relatively easy to do and still is interesting. Some people claim that jogging does it for them, or rock climbing on a rock wall. (The thought of that makes me shudder, but to each his own.) Whatever is absorbing. Computer games maybe. When I was a kid getting lost in a good book was my favorite way.
When I was writing my doctoral dissertation on burnout in single women pastors I spent a fair amount of time talking about “flow.” It’s an important concept and an even more important “state of being.” I try to be in flow as often as I can.
One of the problems with “finding flow” – a lot like finding Nemo – is not being able to focus.
Or not being able to focus consistently. It’s hard!! We are constantly being interrupted by kids, emails, phone calls, robo-calls, what have you. I read somewhere that once we lose our focus it takes 15 minutes to get it back.
AAACCCKKK!! Star Trek time!
So what’s a body to do?
Take charge. It is your life. Yes, you can fritter it away if you want to. But the simple fact that you’ve read this far indicates that maybe you don’t want to.
Okay. So we start by setting boundaries. We set aside a time that is strictly “our time.” It might be early in the morning, or last thing at night. Whenever we can carve it out. Doesn’t need to be a lot of time – even half an hour is a good start. It just needs to be enough time to find some “flow.”
To help with that I’ve put some calendar pages in the library.
A pretty calendar, some coloring calendar pages, and a some simple planner pages. You can access them here. (password = create)
What do we do with that time? Anything we want. Stare at the walls. Start an embroidery project. Take up watercoloring. Or woodworking. Or — whatever you’ve been promising you’d like to try “someday.” Well, someday has arrived.
And NO GUILT! Think of this as therapy. And if anyone presses you and asks why you can’t give them this time, just tell them you have a therapy session. Because you do.
Another important thing: focus on a small goal. Baby steps. If what you want to do with your time is play “Forge of Empires,” then a goal might be to build your village to the next era, or whatever it’s called. Or do an easy crossword puzzle in ink – with no crossouts! Little wins lift our spirits.
One of my go-to books is called Sink Reflections by Martha Gilley. Her premise is that when you are in a state of overwhelm, go shine your sink. Take the dirty dishes out and put them somewhere else, and clean and shine your sink. Don’t worry about the counter – you can do that later. Just shine that sink.
Lastly, talk about it. Reach out to someone else. There is healing in togetherness. We’re all struggling with Meh! one way or another. We’re not alone in dealing with this. And we CAN deal with it.
- Step one: name it for what it is.
- Step two: Take charge by setting some boundaries and carving out time for ourselves. Aim for flow.
- Step three: Little wins. Baby steps. Shine our sinks! Whatever your baby step is.
- Step four: Reach out to someone else. Let Your Little Light Shine.
And don’t forget to check out the free library. I’ve put some calendars in there for the month of May; some pretty ones and some for you to color. And some simple planner pages. Copy them as much as you need. You can get them here.
As they used to sing in the Great Depression (or so I’m told) Happy Days Are Here Again. Let’s make them happy days for ourselves and those we care about
Love and Blessings,