Fighting the Blah’s 2 minute read Written by Shawn Bakker, Psychologist This past April, Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton, wrote an article in the New York Times about the emotional long-haul of the pandemic. He noticed a number of common symptoms that people were experiencing – feelings of joylessness and aimlessness; a sense of stagnation and emptiness; trouble concentrating; muddling through each day and not finding much excitement in things. The name he gave these symptoms was languishing. When we are languishing we are not depressed or burnt out. We still have energy, and we don’t feel hopeless, but we do feel a lack of joy and purpose. Grant describes this as the void between depression and flourishing, where people are not ill but neither are they the picture of health. Spotting Languishing The first step in combatting languishing is to spot it in our lives. Whenever you say, or feel, “Meh,” you just might be languishing. By recognizing our growing indifference, and the dulling of delight, we can prevent more difficult outcomes for ourselves in the future. Some research shows that the people most likely to experience anxiety and depression in the future are the people who are languishing today. Experiencing Flow – Boundaries and Challenges The second step to address languishing is to create opportunities for ourselves to experience flow – that state of absorption in a challenge or activity where time seems to disappear. To experience flow you need a couple of things: time that is free from disruptions and an absorbing challenge or activity. To free yourself from disruptions and distractions you need to set aside time that you will not allow to be spoiled or degraded. Give yourself uninterrupted blocks of time that will allow you to engage in experiences that capture your full attention. Do not let these times be broken. Then use this time to tackle a new goal or an interesting challenge. Something that stretches your skills and requires a sense of resolve to complete. It doesn’t matter what the goal or challenge is, as long as it matters to you. It could be a new project at work, a new hobby at home, or a meaningful conversation with someone you haven’t connected with for a while. These activities can help you rediscover some of the energy and excitement that you have missed during the pandemic.