It has been over a year since the pandemic hit, and every day it seems to become more and more difficult to concentrate and get yourself out of bed. Every day you find yourself struggling to get the job done, always feeling you are not motivated enough, not doing enough, and hence not achieving enough. You are constantly tired, fatigued, and sleepy. Does this sound familiar? What you are experiencing is called Acedia, and, according to recent research, it is not just you.
What is Acedia?
Psychologist Gabriela Perozo (1), alumna at the New Lacanian School (NEL from its acronym in Spanish), defines Acedia as a state of mind where the person feels careless and in constant boredom or laziness. It presents itself by a continuous inability to concentrate at work; however, Perozo suggests that Acedia, when severe, can impact every aspect of a person’s life. This perpetual lack of motivation can affect the person’s job, relationships, and even appearance and hygiene. It can cause somatic symptoms such as sleepiness, weakness, fever, and pain in the back and limbs.
What causes it?
Perozo (1) believes causes may vary from person to person. Nevertheless, it is generally the result of an unclear view of goals or thinking there is an impossibility to reach these goals or finish projects in life. This “impossibility” is mostly subjective and may be caused by economic, personal, or environmental influences. In most cases, there is something within that makes the person enter in this state of numbness.
Additionally, the pandemic has put the entire world in a prolonged state of alert and stress, which is directly linked to being a cause of Acedia. According to a study cited by Forbes (2), 75% of US workers have struggled with anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Juggling remote work, children and homeschooling, house chores, and health issues have undoubtedly increased levels of uncertainty and stress among teams and leaders alike.
Five tips to overcome Acedia and prevent job burnout
It is not all bad news. There are some ways you can overcome this lethargic state you have been dealing with. Although long-term effects of the pandemic, remote work, and other stressors are still under research, there are helpful life hacks that can help you up your nimble self.
1. Get enough sleep: as mentioned before, coping with dozens of chores, school, and work can be very daunting. However, keep in mind that being productive does not equal working 18 hours a day. On the contrary, sleep deprivation is one major cause of poor performance, according to numerous studies. One study conducted by the Indian Journal of Health and Wellbeing (3) suggests that sleep deprivation can be a major factor for depleted memory, learning ability, and a cause of depression among young adults. Similarly, the effects of sleep deprivation can be found in poor decision-making, low self-control, and reduced productivity, areas that are key performance indicators in the work environment.
2. Up your glucose and iron intake: Glucose and iron are directly linked to performance and strong cognitive ability, according to studies. The Harvard Business Review (4) shows in a study the relationship between glucose and ethics. They define glucose as “fuel for the brain,” given that it powers the pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain where abilities such as decision-making and self-control take place. According to a Healthline (5) article, low blood sugar presents itself in headaches, anxiety, and sleepiness. The American Psychological Association (6) has found that drinking a glass of lemonade or orange juice can be a significant source of brain fuel. Similarly, increasing your iron intake within meals provides the energy you need to boost concentration.
3. Reconcile your mind with your body: the benefits of regular exercise are well-known to the general public. In addition, in a study cited by the British Medical Journal (7), it was speculated that short bouts of exercise could boost high brain function such as self-control and higher executive functions. Nonetheless, if you are not fond of exercising (like me), there are other ways to reconcile and sync up your mind with your body. Meditation (8) has proven to be one resource of relaxation and stress reduction. Activities such as painting, walking, and, my personal favorite, wine tasting also provide a great source of serotonin, the hormone that stabilizes our mood and well-being.
4. Celebrate Small Wins: Jack Welch (9) suggests in his book Winning that great leaders celebrate. He explains, “work is too much a part of life not to recognize moments of achievement. Grab as many as you can and make a big deal out of them.” Just like celebrating a birthday or a graduation, celebrating small work wins such as locking a new client or achieving a monthly goal can give you a positive energy boost and create an atmosphere of recognition.
5. Know when to get help: Psychologist Gabriela Perozo (1) suggests that you need to ask for help when your state of Acedia begins to affect more than one aspect of your life. Suppose you have tried every tip in the book and continue developing strong symptoms that may include vomiting. In that case, you need to contact your physician and perhaps consider reaching out to a therapist.
You are not alone
The pandemic caught us by surprise. No one can say they were fully prepared to handle multiple sources of stressors simultaneously. Therefore, what you are experiencing is more common than you were inclined to believe. Know that you are not alone.
However, overcoming this state of numbness and not letting it affect your working relationships is your sole responsibility. These five tips will help you improve your overall well-being and prevent job burnout. Nonetheless, do not let your guard down. It is perfectly fine to reach out for extra help.
For additional information on how to overcome Acedia and request a meeting, contact the main source of this post, Psychologist Gabriela Perozo, at email@example.com