Over the weekend, a buddy of mine from the States sent a link to a New York Times column written by Adam Grant about a collective state of mental health during COVID-19.

I’m sure I’m not the only one in Haliburton County who read the piece.

For those who haven’t seen it, Grant borrowed the phrase “languishing” to describe how many of us are feeling.

It resonated with me as I have had many of the symptoms. For example, I’m not depressed. I get out of bed every morning and go to work. I function around the house and in my leisure time. However, I have to admit that I am not my best self. I struggle with motivation and have trouble concentrating. I sometimes lack excitement or joy about the future. I feel a bit directionless.

Grant further said languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness, in his words, muddling through our days and looking at our life through a foggy windshield.

Camille Quenneville, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario, joined BNN Bloomberg in the past week to discuss the state of people’s mental health during another round of restrictions.

She said the plight of our collective mental health is getting missed in the broader conversation about this pandemic.

And yet CMHA polling has revealed some worrisome statistics.

They point to the fact that Canadians – and indeed Highlanders – are really struggling at this point in the pandemic.

At the start of COVID, 54 per cent of people said their mental health was very good. That had dropped dramatically to 35 per cent before the third wave. Polling also found about 80 per cent of people believe a serious mental health crisis is ahead.

And perhaps most telling, 57 per cent admitted they are lonelier since the start of the pandemic, due to lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.

Quenneville said the situation is getting worse, not better. She added that demand for their services is up 50 and in some cases 100 per cent. They are seeing uptakes in substance abuse, including alcohol and opioids.

She also said employers have a responsibility to ensure workers are managing well, especially if they are working from home.

And while it might seem like a cliché now, some of the advice that’s been out there since day one still holds true.

We should all be trying to get enough sleep and exercise, tracking our eating habits, taking breaks during the day and staying in contact with nature.

Back to the Times article and Grant suggests having a name for what we are collectively feeling actually helps.

The term was coined by sociologist Corey Keyes, who was struck by the fact that many people who weren’t depressed also weren’t thriving.

Grant offered some tips as well. He suggested becoming absorbed in a meaningful project to get your mind off things. He’s occasionally binged on Netflix, finding a story where he can attach to characters.

What he and Quenneville don’t mention by name is practicing mindfulness. Whatever you’re doing, give it your full attention. Being constantly distracted by every alert on your phone isn’t helping. And some days it’s perfectly fine not knowing how many COVID cases there were in Ontario that day or how many people died.

It also means giving yourself, and those around you, a break. After all, it’s become apparent than may of us are languishing. Once again, we’re all in this together and protecting our mental health is just as important as our physical health.

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