Healthy Tahoe: From surviving to thriving during ’COVID bleh’
Somewhere between clinically diagnosable depression and flourishing with wellness, is a place called languishing.
Languishing does not mean you have a diagnosable mental health disorder, but more a lack of motivation, difficulty concentrating, desire to isolate, stuck-ness, or indifference.
It is a response to life circumstances where your needs are not being met (such as the needs for social connection, physical activity, having fun, goals, financial stability, or a feeling of purpose and meaning in the world). For many, the pandemic life of the past 13 months has created life circumstances that have led to the experience of languishing, or as I like to call it, “the COVID Bleh.”
According to the World Health Organization, health is “a state of complete physical, social and mental well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” and “wellness is the optimal state of health of individuals and groups.”
No wonder so many of us are not feeling well after the past year. Problem is, it’s those who are experiencing this middle “bleh” that are more likely to experience a mental health diagnosis down the road. So, although it might not feel that important at this moment to take action, it can be crucial to your future health.
Some things you can do:
1. Practice gratitude. Focusing on what you currently have in life to be grateful for creates pathways in your brain that lead to more appreciation and joy. Start a gratitude journal and write three good things that happened to you each day and why you are grateful for this.
2. Practice positive self-talk. Each morning, wake up and practice naming three things you value about yourself. Remember, neurons that fire together, wire together. So if you practice the habit of positive thinking strategies, then those neuronal pathways will start to become your way of thinking through repetition.
3. Physical Activity. Every day, participate in some kind of activity. Don’t wait until you are motivated, just do it. Start by putting on your shoes, then your jacket, then walk out the door and just start walking. Being outside in nature and walking for just 20-30 minutes a day provides massive health benefits.
4. Reach out and connect with people. Having strong social connections is the strongest predictor of feeling satisfied in life, as published in the Harvard Gazette. Socializing might feel uncomfortable at first after a year of social distancing, but keep at it and it will start to feel comfortable again sooner than you think!
5. Have goals. Even accomplishing small goals releases dopamine, our motivation neurotransmitter.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Lindsay Simon is the clinical director and owner of A Balanced Life: Individual, Family and Child Therapy, Inc., in South Lake Tahoe, California. Make an appointment at A Balanced Life by calling 530-544-1748 or visit BartonHealth.org/MentalHealth for a list of resources in our area.
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Women, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, are 33% more likely than men to visit a doctor, and 100% more likely to have an annual exam.