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Creating Successful Leaders

Recently, mental health has been in the spotlight, and for good reason! People are struggling more than ever in this era of uncertainty and apprehension. In fact, the CDC found in a survey that two in five adults have symptoms of depression or anxiety. That’s staggering! And, unfortunately, there isn’t much help for those dealing with mental health issues, partially due to the enduring stigma around mental health.

But here’s the truth of the matter: mental health is health, and it does matter. Research shows that there is a strong link between physical and mental health, and poor mental health has been connected to ailments such as cardiovascular issues, obesity, or even cancer.

Even if you’re not experiencing depression or anxiety, you might not quite be thriving. If you’re feeling drained, aimless, or less-than-joyful, you could be experiencing what researcher and science author Adam Grant calls languishing.

According to Grant, “Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield.” He goes on to say, “[Languishing] is the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being.” 

I suspect many of us are feeling this state of “languishing” more than ever. If you’re working from home, you might be feeling the monotony of staying in the same space, day after day, and interacting with the same people. You might feel like you’re stuck in “survival mode” and your creative spark isn’t what it used to be.

How can you stave off languishment and rediscover your joy? While I don’t have a magic bullet, I do have a few suggestions:

Step Away

A change of scenery can do wonders for your wellbeing. Stepping away from your desk or your house can give you a fresh perspective and a little distance from any problems you might be facing. Take a walk outside, move your laptop to a coffee shop or library, go out for lunch, practice yoga or hop on the treadmill—whatever appeals most to you! Stepping away, counting, and focusing on your breathing can also create a sense of calm and help put things in perspective.

Focus on One Task

If you’re feeling spread thin or anxious, try focusing on only one task at a time. Don’t give in to the pressure to multitask! Close your email, put your phone on airplane mode, and commit to working on just one thing. This focus time can ease your nerves and give you a sense of accomplishment.

Even if your focus time only lasts half an hour or an hour, that can be enough time to make good progress. Try the “one task at a time” technique whenever you’re feeling scattered or exhausted.

Try for Small Wins

If you are floundering or feeling worn out, try to accomplish one “small win.” This could be any minor, easily accomplished task. For example, test all your pens and toss the ones that no longer work. Or, send one important email you’ve been putting off. Or, clean up your computer desktop or downloads folder. These mini tasks can give you the forward momentum you need to tackle larger projects.

Respect Your “Temple”

Your body is a temple. It’s true. If we don’t treat our physical selves well, our mental and emotional sides also suffer. Take time every day to treat yourself well. Instead of opting for a quick Pop-tart or donut for breakfast, make yourself some eggs with spinach or a bowl of oatmeal with berries and chia seeds. Other ways to “respect your temple” include exercising regularly, de-stressing (taking a hot bath, enjoying a cup of tea, reading a book, getting a professional massage), and setting aside some quiet time for reflection or meditation.

Practicing self-care is essential for maintaining your energy and spark for life. If you don’t take the time to be kind to yourself, how will you have the capacity to care for others or perform at your best?

Talk to Someone

Do not underestimate the power of human connection. If you’re feeling stressed, sullen, or aimless, don’t be afraid to reach out to a close friend or family member for help. Sometimes, simply talking over your issues (or venting!) is exactly what you need to work things out or put things in perspective. If you’ve been feeling truly awful lately, it’s a good idea to schedule a couple sessions with a therapist or psychiatrist. Your mental health is worth it.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE. 

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