And we don’t mean juicing. Our three antidotes to languishing for moms.
Lately, I’ve been struggling to understand how, in spite of more downtime, I continue to feel behind on work. I find less time to exercise. I’ve read only a portion of one book from the stack I’d been saving for a rainy day (or year of quarantine). The only new skill I seemed to have mastered during the pandemic was making and eating daily loaves of garlic bread.
I’m not being fair to myself. I’ve also doubled my tolerance for alcoholic beverages, which is truly impressive for my 5’2” frame.
Thankfully, there’s now a name for my overall feelings of blah: languishing. As Adam Grant explains in his popular New York Times piece, “Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work.” Grant goes on to offer advice on how we can help ourselves emerge from the fog: stop trying to multitask, schedule uninterrupted hours for work, find time to dedicate to meaningful activities. I have no doubt these methods would greatly improve my mental health, but as someone who hasn’t peed uninterrupted since 2014, achieving work-from-home office hours seems like an impossible dream.
For working parents with children who are schooling from home, what are the antidotes to languishing? I don’t pretend to be on the other side of this just yet, but below are three things that are helping me overcome my extended state of blah.
Stop Eating and Drinking Unhealthy Amounts of the Unhealthy Shit You’ve Been Eating and Drinking.
Other blogs might express this with the words, “Prioritize Self-Care,” and while I agree with that sentiment, I’m not talking about relaxing baths and sheet masks. I am forever grateful to Sonoma Cutrer for helping me survive the pandemic, but the time has come for me to have a little less wine and a little more water. A little less garlic bread and a little more anything but garlic bread. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting you go on a diet, but shifting my perspective from surviving to thriving has made a huge difference. I didn’t know how bad I felt until I made a conscious effort to limit my alcohol and increase my water intake. Waking up is so much easier now, and sometimes simply feeling good in the morning is enough to launch me into a productive day.
Stop Paying for Exercise Apps You’re Not Using.
Don’t cancel them! Use them! Ironically, having more time to work out resulted in me exercising less. I had no motivation to get up and get my workout in because I knew I could do it later, and later often turned into tomorrow. And the day after. Now that our schedule is inching back to normal, I’m making an effort to exercise in the mornings, and it’s such a game changer for my mental health. Nothing clears my brain fog like a long run and a podcast, but that’s not always an option. More often than not, my workout takes place in my living room, just out of view of my son’s Zoom class. For those days, I use the SWEAT app, and can’t recommend it enough. As for whether my pile of jeans will ever fit again, I’ll keep you posted.
Stop The Scroll.
Between Covid and Trump, my news consumption over the past year is practically immeasurable. While I still scan the L.A. Times and The Atlantic each night, I released the need to comb through every major newsfeed in America, and it’s done wonders for my mood.
I also purged my social feeds. Many of my friends have gone so far as to delete the apps entirely, and while I’m sometimes tempted to follow suit, I really do enjoy certain aspects of social media. Instead of deleting my accounts, I intentionally purged them. I unfollowed any Insta feed that was no longer inspiring to me and, without unfriending anyone, curated my Facebook timeline to display posts from only a select group of people. I no longer engage in debate over posts, and while I will never stop using social media as a platform for advocacy, I’m concentrating more on what I share than what other people do.
May we all pay a little more attention to our lives outside our screen, now that we’re able to have them again!
Jessica Butler is the co-founder of Raise, stepmother of two, and adoptive mother of one. Prior to Raise, she was a writer on USA’s "In Plain Sight" and TNT’s "The Last Ship." She and her husband, writer/producer Warren Bell, co-created the Nick at Nite series "Instant Mom," based on her life as a stepmother. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and six-year-old son, Levon.