😐 Are You Feeling Blah, Cranky, or Stagnant?
3 Pathways to Dust Off Your Resilience and Rewire, Energize, and Renew
Many of us are feeling blah, cranky, and stagnant these days. We may feel as though our personal and professional lives have been disrupted and we’re losing ground – as if aspects of our lives are just gathering dust. Even with COVID vaccines, boosters, and promising new treatments, many among us have greatly missed time with family and friends and celebrating milestones. We’ve postponed major life events like weddings and birthday celebrations. Some of us have lost loved ones. We’ve forfeited momentum at home, work, school, and toward our life objectives.
Even among those of us still maintaining some momentum, the avalanche of pandemic challenges, political concerns, climate changes, economic woes, and rise of hate in the U.S. may be taking a toll. We may find ourselves experiencing fewer joyful moments, less direction, more difficulty focusing, and weakened hope.
In April 2021, University of Pennsylvania psychologist Adam Grant, PhD, published an article in the NY Times citing the experience of “languishing” as the dominant emotion of 2021. Dr. Grant called languishing “the void between depression and flourishing” (2021). In what may feel like an endless wait for normalcy, languishing could be thought of as disrupted wellbeing that is taking a toll on our personal and professional lives.
Even if you seem fine on the surface, how are you actually responding to the seemingly endless wait for “normalcy”? How are you carrying on with your life when you feel disrupted, tired, and languishing?
😀 Here are a few pathways to help you tap into your capacities to rewire, energize, and renew yourself:
1. Boost Your Sense of Agency, Your Personal Power: Some years ago, Martin Seligman, PhD, the leader of the positive psychology movement, researched a phenomenon called learned helplessness, which can occur when people confront stresses and obstacles that they find uncontrollable. In adverse situations – especially those we fear we can do nothing about – we may just passively give up (2011).
There are alternatives to staying stuck in learned helplessness. We can learn to view setbacks as temporary and changeable; focus on how our thoughts and actions can create options to help us respond.
When you look at the obstacles you’re facing, what small steps can you take internally and externally to respond more effectively? How can you reach out beyond yourself toward someone else who might need a helping hand? How can you boost your self-compassion and agency?
2. Strengthen Your Energy Levels: When you’re feeling blah, one antidote can be to get back to basics with your own self-care. For example, moving more throughout the day, eating just a bit healthier, getting outside for a walk, doing household tasks with greater vigor and movement, taking a moment for gratitude about a positive in your life, reaching out to a family member or friend, giving yourself a brief uninterrupted block of time to do something you love.
3. Get into Flow with Something You Love to Do: Adam Grant (2021) suggests that a key ingredient to reduce languishing may be the experience of “flow.” Flow can be described as a depth of enjoyment or involvement in an activity so it holds your attention and you become immersed in it (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). Here are a few strategies to help yourself experience flow:
- Set a clear goal for yourself that feels challenging, but obtainable.
- Take action, large or small – it can help if some of your actions offer immediate feedback.
- Pay attention to your involvement and actions as you commit to working toward your goal – take action with determination and awareness.
- Develop and refine skills and resources needed to achieve your goal.
- Invite yourself to savor and enjoy the experience as you engage in the tasks or activities.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. No content is a substitute for consulting with a qualified mental health or healthcare professional.
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- Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
- Grant, A. (2021). There’s a name for the blah you’re feeling: It’s called languishing. The New York Times.
- Seligman, M.E.P. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. New York, NY: Atria Paperback.
Copyright © 2021 Ilene Berns-Zare, LLC, All Rights Reserved
Ilene is a Featured Author on PsychologyToday!
Read her blog series Flourish and Thrive: Navigating transitions with mindfulness and resilience.
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Ilene Berns-Zare, PsyD, PCC, CMC (ICF Credentialed) is an Executive and Personal Coach and Speaker. Ilene helps people live their best personal and professional lives by bringing mind, body, and spirit into flow with strengths, purpose, and potential. She inspires clients to find fresh perspectives and access their full potential as creative, resourceful, whole persons. Find Ilene online, set up a free discovery coaching consultation, and access free resources at https://ibzcoaching.com/.
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