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Navigating Ruts and Malaise

The reality of today’s world is that feelings of malaise and general unease have become increasingly common. Those feelings are compounded in the world of Social Work where we deal with people and their problems every day. Professionally. As the saying goes, shit rolls downhill. Whether triggered by stress, societal pressures, or personal challenges, experiencing a sense of disconnection or dissatisfaction with life can profoundly impact people’s well-being. Recognizing and managing malaise requires a tiered approach encompassing diet, exercise, meditation. In addition, reducing screen time and not doom scrolling is crucial for mental and emotional resilience.


Recognizing Malaise


Malaise often manifests as a combination of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. These may include persistent sickness, chronic fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite, and a lack of motivation or interest in activities. Even activities we enjoy. While occasional feelings of malaise are normal, chronic or severe symptoms warrant attention and intervention.


Managing Malaise Holistically


Diet: Staying true to our healthy whole foods diet plays a crucial role in maintaining overall well-being. Consuming nutrient dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats will provide our body with the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to function optimally. Also, and obviously, hydration is vital for both physical and mental health. Drink your water.


Exercise: We know regular strenuous physical activity is necessary for physical fitness AND mental health. Engaging in activities such as walking, jogging, calisthenics, yoga, and strength training releases endorphins which are the best mood lifters known to mankind (They’re free too!). Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week at minimum to experience the mood-boosting effects. Better


Stillness: Incorporating some sort of stillness into our daily routine will help to fend off feelings of malaise. Whether that is a mindfulness meditation practice, walking meditation, or just sitting on a park bench watching the squirrels do what they do will help alleviate stress and promote emotional balance. Guided meditation sessions, deep breathing exercises, love and kindness meditations will all bring about gratitude and awareness of the present moment. Taking time to quiet the mind and cultivate inner peace is profoundly transformative. The constant chatter in our mind is rarely net positive. We have to take them time to see that chatter for what it is, recognize it, and quiet it.


Prioritizing self-care is essential for creating and maintaining mental and emotional well-being. Adequate hours of quality sleep, setting boundaries with clients, friends, AND work colleagues is a must do. Not a will try. Practice gratitude, spend time in nature, nurture positive social connections, and engage in hobbies and activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.


Last but certainly not least...Reduce screen time. Especially doom scrolling. Excessive screen time, particularly time spent on social media consuming negative news, will without a doubt exacerbate feelings of malaise and contribute to a sense of disconnection. Limiting screen time and being mindful of the content consumed can help mitigate these effects. Instead, allocate time for activities that promote relaxation, creativity, and genuine connection with others. Simply thinking you can curate your various feeds to only bring you positivity and motivational content is not enough. While online negativity can be curbed to some extent, it CANNOT be eliminated. It will always creep in. Put the phone down and step away.


Navigating malaise is not easy and its impossible to avoid it completely. But, incorporating strategies of maintaining a proper diet of real food, getting regular exercise, making time to be still, getting good sleep and reducing to screen time will foster a greater sense of vitality and fulfillment. All of these self-care and mindful habits will steel man us allowing us to navigate periods of malaise with grace and resilience, ultimately leading to a more fulfilling and meaningful life. When we, as Social Work Professionals, are leading fulfilling and meaningful lives then, and only then, can we help others do the same.

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