Getting tired of languishing | Sault Star

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Does anyone else feel depressed? Mourning your old life? Lacking purpose? Do you feel free?

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If you are, you are not alone.

There are a lot of stressors right now, including but not limited to: bad weather this summer, COVID-19 messing up our lives for two years, division as public policy, wars unexpected and unfair, loss of rights that everyone thought were set in stone, physical isolation and shocking levels of inflation. Fortunately, there is a term to unite us under the metaphorical and literal rain clouds above our heads: “longing”.

A respected friend sent me an article on agony by Adam Grant in the New York Times. Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton, took his hat off to sociologist Corey Keyes, who coined the term for this recent phenomenon. Grant said he and his friends felt “somewhat joyless and aimless” and spoke of people watching more shows, playing more games on their phones, lacking focus and just getting by.

I like this remark. I’m not depressed, but I’m not thriving either. I had to make a pact with someone recently to limit my game on my phone to just one hour a day. I lacked the motivation to do anything and found the repetition of the phone game helpful in distracting my mind from its general state of retrenchment and grief over what we collectively and individually suffered and lost. (Luckily, we haven’t discussed limiting excessive movie and TV consumption, but we probably should.)

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Grant calls languishing, “the neglected middle child of mental health…the void between depression and thriving.” His preoccupation is as follows: “You don’t find yourself slipping slowly into loneliness; you are indifferent to your indifference.

I felt very alone in my “funk” until I started comparing notes with others, and was surprised at how many common terms we used. Suddenly, the simple validation of knowing that I wasn’t alone made my loneliness more bearable. I’m not aiming for the stars here; I just want my strange state of stasis to loosen its grip on me. I tap, but he was adamant.

I guess most of the common strategies for improving depression are helpful in dealing with listlessness, but Grant suggests the most important thing is to “find new challenges, enjoyable experiences, and meaningful work.” The problem is, what if you don’t care?

Truly, our lives have been suspended in many ways for two years. It’s hard to wake up and say, “It’s time to go!” It’s even harder when we’re working full time, while the kids are learning at home, and we’re now preconditioned that we’ll be interrupted no matter what we start, so why start?

I know that once I cross something off my to-do list, my adrenaline increases along with my motivation. It’s just taking that first step that’s a doozy. For me, what is most effective is someone inviting me and asking me what I need to prioritize and what my plan of attack will be. Then, because I said it out loud, I’m more engaged, and I also have someone to hold me accountable. My other solution is to book a trip, to have something to look forward to.

If you find yourself under your own personal rain cloud, or just in a strange state of stasis, I encourage you to call it “pining”, know that you are not alone, and maybe this will push you to take you off.

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Nadine Robinson’s column airs most Saturdays. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @theinkran.

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