Hi there nesstie,
Some days I feel like I’m merely existing. I’m not in a depressive episode, but I’m also no model smiling at the end of a Zoloft commercial. It’s not an intense state of being, but it feels like a sluggish aftershock to a year checkered with grief. And it’s a mood that finally has a name, thanks to sociologist Corey Keyes. It’s called “languishing.” Adam Grant wrote in the New York Times this month:
“Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.”
There’s a huge sense of relief when you put a name to a feeling. Not only does it make that feeling less abstract, but it gives you the power to acknowledge it and deal with it. With languishing, there are some tools to counter that mediocre vibe. You can get into a flow, which is completely losing yourself to an activity. (For me, it can be as simple as the daily crossword or an X-Men marathon. I’m a nerd!) You can also address languishing through intentional uninterrupted time and setting yourself up for small victories—checking “morning stretch” off your to-do list, sending an email you’ve been putting off, reading a chapter in your book.
It’s also okay to acknowledge that languishing isn’t something you have to constantly and proactively try to “fix.” There are valid reasons—globally, institutionally, politically—to not feel fired up each day. But being able to identify what you’re feeling with an accepted term—one that others can understand and probably relate to—makes “languishing” a less lonely or confusing frame of mind. There’s absolutely no shame in languishing, and I’m going to share when I’m feeling it with others. Are you?
Until next time,
Melanie, editor at The Nessie
A baker's dozen
Don’t forget every body is a beach body. A health writer at Vice tested working out while high. A NASA astronaut talks about how to reenter society. Why a ‘dudes-only’ vaccine is problematic (besides the obvious?). Watch out for vaccine misinformation on Facebook and “appetite suppressants” on Instagram. The case for a warm shower before bed and changing your washcloth daily. Some insights if you were wondering if you will need a COVID-19 booster shot, why we scream (🗣 THERE ARE SIX TYPES OF SCREAMS), and whether you’re feeling too sore during a workout. Researching magic mushrooms as an antidepressant. And why we should think of care as infrastructure.
Making meaningful new connections right now is hard, and going from a grid of faces on a work meeting to a grid of faces for a social gathering can be fatiguing (especially if your work and personal lives are all happening on the same platform). One app we love has solved this problem in a really thoughtful and unique way.
Yoni Circle is a social app that wants to cultivate a digital space for healing and wellness through live storytelling sessions. It launched in the early days of the pandemic. After each hosted circle ends, community members are added to a group chat to stay in touch and build new relationships, if they wish.
“A lot of women on our platform have lost their jobs and are stuck in homes,” Founder Chloë Drimal told Well + Good. “Yoni Circle has been so important for a lot of women’s mental health to get them out of their walls, meet new people, and allow themselves to be on a healing mental-health journey.”
Let’s get physical
If you needed motivation to adopt consistent physical activity into your routine, a new study from researchers in California found that regular physical inactivity was linked to higher risks for severe COVID-19. This by no means suggests that exercising is a substitute for a vaccine and adhering to CDC guidelines, but it does show that incorporating some regular movement into your day-to-day might lower your chances of getting seriously or gravely sick.
For those that did get sick with COVID-19, you might be wondering when you can safely exercise again. For those with no symptoms, medical experts still want you to take it easy until your immune system is strong and you’re officially in the clear that you aren’t going to come down with anything. One doctor recommended at least a ten-day rest period. For those that did come down with symptoms, wait until you feel better. And then, start with low-intensity workouts, gaging how you feel week by week, and only revving it up if you continue to feel healthy and strong.
“As you start exercising again, keep in mind this is not the time to power through discomfort, particularly if it comes in the form of chest pain, heart palpitations or extreme shortness of breath,” board-certified orthopedic surgeon and assistant professor of orthopedics and sports medicine Brian Grawe told HuffPost. “Listen to your body and keep in mind it’s going to take a solid one to two weeks to regain your fitness and get back on track. Increasing physical activity slowly and crescendo back to your normal routine will be safest.”
In the wild
Public health and stickers (and merch)
No successful visit to a doctor is truly complete without a sticker (and I’ll take a lollipop, too, while we’re at it). Now there’s one for the COVID-19 vaccine! Our fave is designed by Yves Behar and features a heart made of band-aids that reads “Immunity Together.” You can also print out the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine stickers (much less sexy) for free off their website. There’s also a bunch of merch on Etsy (there’s always a bunch of merch on Etsy) if you wanted to show you support vaccination efforts in a craftier way.
Instead of flashing your vaccination card on social media (a potential privacy issue, by the way!), these stickers and merch invite people to safely and cutely show off their recent jab. A well-designed sticker might not be the sole motivating factor driving skeptics to vaccination sites, but it does create a visual sense of thrill and community, similar to your feeds overflowing with elated “I voted!” stickers during election time. Don’t underestimate the humble sticker.
Dealing with “brain fog”
As many of us look forward to a post-pandemic world, COVID “long-haulers” experience lingering symptoms for months, and those neurological issues can obviously interfere with work, life, and relationships. Research is actively underway to better understand long COVID, but therapists and medical professionals say the best ways to address “brain fog” may be through mindfulness.
Things to try include good sleep hygiene, minimal napping in the day and screen time at night, and more gentle exercise, like yoga or meditating. Other treatments mentioned included consistent mental and memory exercises, like memorizing a grocery list or recapping a podcast. These are even good practices for everyone—memory exercises and centering yourself in the moment lead to a more mindful life.
Standing desk, but level it up
I miss the gym, mostly because I miss access to equipment that is not in my personal budget and also doesn’t really vibe with my living room aesthetic. Not even my beautiful succulents can offset the brutal vibes of a rack of dumbbells… and they’re trying. (The market is ripe for some functional modern rustic Peloton bikes.) I’m not really sure when I’ll be comfortable joining a sweaty indoor gym again, but there is a small lifehack to bring a little bit of the gym into your home that is the financial equivalent to half a year of membership dues.
There are a bunch of portable, foldable treadmills online for under $300. Like a lot. I discovered this while looking for an affordable treadmill that I could easily bring outside if I wanted to squeeze in a workout while soaking in some vitamin D. And a lot of them have four to five star ratings. As this Fast Company review notes, an under-desk treadmill pairs nicely with a standing desk, letting you even squeeze some cardio in during work hours. It’s not a full-body workout, and it’s probably not as fancy as some of the treadmill options at the gym, but it does bring a slice of the gym home, can be easily stashed under your desk or couch when not in use, and it won’t break the bank. Just maybe inform your colleagues and peers if you’re going to jog while Zooming—they might want to know why there’s a sweaty, bobbing head on their screens.