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If I'm not depressed, then what am I?

Updated: Nov 26, 2021

We are rapidly approaching the second anniversary of the emergence of Covid - the wide-reaching impacts are still not fully recognised, and perhaps won't be for some time to come due to the long-term nature of the situation.

A group of people wearing masks in response to covid precautions to illustrate living in a threat situation over the long term and the impact on anxiety

We are designed to respond to, and cope with, immediate threat - when we all lived as hunter-gatherers, before the first agricultural revolution, this served us very well...our fight or flight response helped us deal with wild animals, marauding neighbours, inclement weather and other such natural threats. But these situations would be temporary and we would either perish, or we would survive and our threat system would then calm down.

But this pandemic has rumbled on and on, with little respite, which has resulted in some of us remaining in a heightened state of threat indefinitely throughout this long haul.

If you've not quite been feeling yourself lately, it could be that the emotional wear and tear of this is starting to show its toll - it might be difficult to put your finger on it...more a sense that you are not thriving as you once did, rather than there being a particular thing that you can pinpoint as being wrong.

A person watching netflix to illustrate distraction behaviours that people use when they are experiencing depression and anxiety

Earlier in the year, Adam Grant (an organisational psychologist) wrote a fascinating article called "There’s a name for the blah you’re feeling: It’s called languishing" and it really struck a chord with me. He explained that somewhere between flourishing and depression is a state called languishing – an absence of wellbeing. He noticed that, over the last year or so, he and his friends were expending huge amounts of time scrolling on their phones, bingeing on box-sets and generally not being very productive. They didn't lack hope or optimisim, but their motivation and energy seemed to have leaked away...they just felt "a bit blah".

He has a great TED talk where he runs through ways of overcoming languishing - let me know in the comments below what you think of it.

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