Our antidote for these trying times
Recently, the New York Times ran an op-ed on what the paper of record called “the dominant emotion of 2021.”
“There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling,” the headline read. “It’s Called Languishing.”
Adam Grant, the op-ed’s author and psychologist, listed the symptoms that he and so many others had experienced during the pandemic: trouble concentrating, lack of excitement about the future, a general sense of stagnation and emptiness. It’s like “looking at your life through a foggy windshield,” he wrote.
“It wasn’t burnout—we still had energy. It wasn’t depression—we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless,” he explained. If grief and fear were the overriding emotions of the early days of COVID-19, languishing is now the predominant emotion he argued.
This state-of-mind isn’t a mental illness per se, but it may be a precursor to more severe forms of distress. Corey Keyes, the sociologist who coined the term, found that the people most likely to experience major depression and anxiety disorders in the next decade aren’t people who are depressed or anxious now, but those who are languishing. A study in Italy found that healthcare workers who were languishing in the lead up to the crash of COVID-19 cases on their hospitals were three times more likely than their peers to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder afterwards.
“Part of the danger is that when you’re languishing, you might not notice the dulling of delight or the dwindling of drive,” Grant wrote. “You don’t catch yourself slipping slowly into solitude; you’re indifferent to your indifference. When you can’t see your own suffering, you don’t seek help or even do much to help yourself.”
So, what can you do about it?
The antidote Grant prescribes is a concept called “flow.” Flow is a state of immersion in a meaningful challenge or relationship, where your sense of time, place or self melts away. Getting into a flow can be really difficult when you can’t focus, and you often can’t focus with constant distractions—whether those distractions are emails, flagging revenues, or surging COVID cases in your neighbourhood. In some cases, breaking off designated times for a specific task free of calls and emails, and keeping a schedule so work hours don’t eat into non-work hours, can be useful tactics.
But at BuyAndSellABusiness.Com, we believe there’s no lasting solution unless you love what you do. People who can’t find the meaning in their work often have difficulty persisting through ordinary challenges, let alone the kinds businesses have faced over the pandemic.
If you’re thinking of making a career change, consider tapping into our community of small business owners (at InsideBiz) or our library of resources (such as our buyer’s workshop, franchise buyer’s guide or blogs).
Being a small business owner isn’t for everyone, but if it’s for you, you don’t have to do it alone. We can help you take control of your career, shake off a few of those blahs, and perhaps give you a new sense of hope as we all emerge from these trying times.
Together we can be hopeful. Together we can be optimistic. Never lose that sense of hope, and most importantly turn that hope into progress. Special thanks to the people who contributed to our “I have hope” campaign. Watch it here and share it, because we can all use a little hope.
Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.
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