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There is a name somehow you feel, it’s called suffering

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It wasn’t burnout — we still had energy. It wasn’t depression — we didn’t feel despair. We felt a little unhappy and purposeless. It turns out that there is a name for it: I’m suffering.

Suffering is a feeling of stagnation and emptiness. Looking at your life through the foggy windshield, you feel like you’re confusing your days. And that may be the dominant sentiment of 2021.

Many people suffer from the emotional long-distance pandemic as scientists and doctors work on the treatment and treatment of the physical symptoms of long-distance Covid. As the fierce fear and sadness of last year diminished, it struck some of us unprepared.

In the early uncertainties of the pandemic, a brain threat detection system called the amygdala may have been very wary of fighting or fleeing. As we learned that masks help protect us (but not package scrubbing), we’ve probably developed a routine to relieve fear. However, the pandemic has been prolonged and the acute condition of distress has been superseded by the chronic condition of debilitation.

Psychology considers mental health in the spectrum from depression to prosperity. Prosperity is the peak of happiness: you have a strong sense, proficiency, and an interest in others. Depression is a valley of misery. You feel discouraged, exhausted, and worthless.

Suffering is a neglected middle-aged child of mental health. It’s a void between depression and prosperity — a lack of happiness. You have no symptoms of mental illness, but you are not a picture of mental health. Not working at full capacity. Suffering slows down your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples your chances of reducing work. It seems to be more common than major depression — and in a sense it may be a greater risk factor for mental illness.

The term was coined by a sociologist named Corey Keys. Corey Keys found that many people who weren’t depressed weren’t prospering either. According to his study, it is not the people who are present with these symptoms today who are most likely to experience major depression or anxiety disorders in the next decade. They are the people who are suffering now. Also, new evidence from Italian pandemic health care workers found that people suffering in the spring of 2020 were three times more likely to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder than their peers.

Part of the danger is that when you are suffering, you may not notice the dullness of joy or the loss of drive. Don’t fall into loneliness slowly. You are indifferent and indifferent. When you can’t see your suffering, you don’t ask for help or even do much to help yourself.

Even if you are not suffering, you probably know people who are suffering. A better understanding of it can help you help them.

In the name of what you are feeling

Psychologists believe that one of the best strategies for managing emotions is to name them. In the midst of the pandemic’s terrible distress last spring, the most viral post in the history of Harvard Business Review was an article that described our collective discomfort as sadness. With the loss of our loved ones, we were mourning the loss of normality. “Sadness.” Gave us a familiar vocabulary to understand what felt like an unfamiliar experience. We had never faced a pandemic before, but most of us faced losses. It helped embody lessons from our own resilience in the past — and helped us gain confidence in our ability to face current adversity.

There’s still a lot to learn about what causes pain and how to cure it, but naming it may be the first step. It can help obscure our vision and give us a clearer window to what was a blurry experience. It may remind us that we are not alone: ​​suffering is common and shared.

And it can give us a socially acceptable response to “How are you?”

Imagine if you say “I’m fine” instead of saying “Great!” Or “Honestly, I’m suffering.” It will be a refreshing foil for toxic positives — it is typically the American pressure to always be bright.

When you put pain on your lexicon, you start to notice everywhere around you. Appears when you are disappointed with a short walk in the afternoon. When you ask how the online school went, it’s in your child’s voice. Every time the character says “Me”, it appears in “The Simpsons”.

Last summer, journalist Daphne K. Lee tweeted about the Chinese expression for “procrastination of revenge at bedtime.” She explained it as staying up late at night to regain the freedom we missed during the day. I began to wonder if it was a quiet rebellion against suffering, not a retaliation for the loss of control. It is the bliss of a desolate day, the connection of a lonely week, or the quest for a lasting pandemic purpose.

Language antidote

So what can we do about it? The concept called “flow” may be an antidote to debilitation. Flow is an elusive state of absorption in meaningful challenges and momentary bonds that melts time, place, and self-sensation. In the early days of the pandemic, the best predictors of happiness were flow, not optimism or mindfulness. Those who became absorbed in the project were able to avoid suffering and maintain pre-pandemic happiness.

Early morning word games drive me into the flow. The midnight Netflix fuss also sometimes does tricks — it takes you to a story where you feel attached to the characters and worried about their welfare.

Finding new challenges, enjoyable experiences, and meaningful jobs are all possible remedies for suffering, but when you can’t concentrate, it’s hard to find a flow. This has been a problem long before the pandemic. People habitually checked their email 74 times a day and switched tasks every 10 minutes. Last year, many of us suffered from interference from children throughout the house, colleagues around the world, and 24-hour bosses. Oh dear.

Fragmented attention is an enemy of involvement and excellence. In a group of 100 people, only a few people can drive and store information at the same time without compromising performance on one or both tasks. Computers may be built for parallel processing, but humans prefer serial processing.

Give yourself uninterrupted time

That is, you need to set boundaries. A few years ago, the Fortune 500 software company in India tested a simple policy of not interrupting by noon on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. When engineers managed the boundaries themselves, 47% were above average productivity. However, when the company officially set a quiet time, 65% achieved above-average productivity. Achieving more wasn’t just good for performance at work. We now know that the most important element of everyday joy and motivation is a sense of progress.

I don’t think there’s anything magical by noon on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The lesson of this simple idea is to treat an uninterrupted block of time as a treasure to protect. It removes constant distractions and gives us the freedom to focus. We can find comfort in our full attention-grabbing experience.

Focus on small goals

The pandemic was a huge loss. To transcend suffering, start with a small victory, such as a small victory in understanding whodunits, or a rush to play a seven-letter word. One of the clearest paths to the flow is the difficulty of managing it. It’s a challenge to develop your skills and increase your determination. This means spending time every day focusing on tasks that are important to you, such as interesting projects, valuable goals, and meaningful conversations. Sometimes it’s a small step towards rediscovering some of the energy and enthusiasm missed during all these months.

Suffering is not just in our minds — it is in our situation. Personal bandages cannot heal a culture of illness. We still live in a world that normalizes physical health challenges but stigmatizes mental health challenges. As we move toward a new reality after the pandemic, it is time to rethink our understanding of mental health and well-being. “Not depressed” does not mean that you are not struggling. “Not burned out” does not mean that you are excited. By acknowledging that many of us are suffering, we can speak out in quiet despair and begin to illuminate the way from the void.

© 2021 The New York Times Company

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