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Languishing was a term coined by Adam Grant and published in The New York Times around the shared experience we feel of inner resistance during this pandemic. Languishing can make us feel stuck. Living in a pandemic has caused us to question anything we’re doing, and so we just don’t do it. Things that brought us joy or pleasure seem elusive or don’t offer us the payout that they once did. It’s time to ask, how exactly do we move out of our own inner sense of malaise and into a more intentional time? It’s all about movement or engagement. The first step is always the hardest but more steps nearly always follow.

Consider “pre-exercise.” Find a comfortable place to be on your floor and move your muscles in whatever stretches you are comfortable with from head to toes. As you flex your joints and muscles, put your hand on that part of the body and thank it for the work it does for you. Let it know that you understand how difficult it is simply to move. Be grateful for the stretch of your muscles and the work they do for you.

Or we can move into more intentional exercise. Exercise is a fantastic foundation to moving out of languishing. Set your intentions, no matter how small, write them down in multiple places and do your intentions. We know that being with others is a move away from depression, so maybe we start with intentional times together or combine intentions and find a friend to exercise together.

Making a motivation chart can also help. Using an hour by hour planner, determine two or three things you want to accomplish with the day. Schedule these. When the day is done, check on your list and write the feelings around accomplishing the task or not.

Gratitude can also be a great beginning. Is there something that was good or that you’re thankful for today? Did you see something interesting or pretty in your environment? Did you talk with anyone? Did you enjoy any of the foods you ate? Pick one or two things and notice them. Savor them. Be grateful.

However you decide to start, be kind to yourself as you lean in to “just doing something.” Real change takes time. Even the littlest “first steps,” are a beginning. And beginnings lead us to places away from where we are today.

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