On Monday, many of you received an email from our HR team highlighting that this was Mental Health week. The toolkits, programming and the campaign tag lines ‘Name It Don’t Numb It’ and ‘#GetReal About How You Feel’ hit the mark. Given the challenges we are facing and the way we are feeling during an intense lockdown 14 months into a pandemic, it is a good reminder that we may not always feel happy. And that we shouldn’t deny how we feel. Some days we just aren’t going to feel as mentally or emotionally strong as other days. And Fridays may be that day for you, after a long week. And that is OK.
One of the highlights of that Monday email for me was the link to a New York Times article called “Feeling Blah During the Pandemic…It’s Called Languishing”. It originally went viral in April, and was reprinted this week, and went viral again. Boy, did it resonate with me! There have definitely been moments of languishing, feeling meh or bleh, over the last few months. So after reading it, I sent it to a lot of people I know, too, and it also made the rounds here on campus. I think languishing resonates with a lot of people. And that is OK.
And then, later this week, the NYT posted another article called “The Other Side of Languishing is Flourishing” that provides practical tips to get you out of languishing and into flourishing. They are simple things, including Gratitude activities, that can make a difference. Oh and they even provide a quiz so you can evaluate your mindset. As it turns out I was Flourishing when I took the quiz. If I had taken it an hour earlier … well maybe not so much. It had been a gruelling day and I was depleted. In fact, I may rotate through quite a few ups and downs in a day. Maybe you do, too? In fact, that is the crux of mental health, especially during challenging times: It isn’t static and it is impossible to predict. And that is OK.
Perhaps mental health, both its unpredictability and its individual impact, is something we should consider as we head into this Mother’s Day weekend. Most of us would typically consider Mother’s Day to be a joyous time to celebrate our Moms for all they do. And if we are Moms, it can be a lovely time for celebrations, including messy breakfasts in bed, brunches at a restaurant, flowers, plants for gardens, and there may be other things that a Mother might like during a pandemic. However, this year may not feel like a typical Mother’s Day for many. The pandemic has been especially difficult on Moms who are balancing work while caring for spouses and/or children, schooling at home, and/or balancing parental care. In addition, the current lockdown, and the pandemic in general, have made it hard to be with or near family in many cases. Mothers will miss being with their children, and many children will miss being with their Mothers. And for any of you who have lost a Mother, either this past year or previously, or if you are a Mother who has lost a child, my heart goes out to you. Mother’s Day may be a time of sadness and reflection, and not just appreciation and acknowledgement. Mother’s Day means different things to different people. And that is OK.
Whatever the circumstances, this Mother’s Day, we can still acknowledge all the Mothers we know, whoever and wherever they may be, and say Thank You, and Happy Mother’s Day, too. Gratitude is Love and we all benefit from that. And that is definitely OK!
And please let me also say Thank You for all YOU have done this past semester to make it an incredible success. It feels like we hardly had a second to recognize the end of one semester before we are rocketing into the next one without the usual sense of accomplishment and closure. Rockets need fuel! Please take time to fuel up this weekend in whatever way you choose – perhaps try a few of the tips for Flourishing! Or maybe watch the viral Excel gum add on repeat, so you can laugh and cry and have hope! That is really what flourishing is all about! And that is OK, too!