A neuroscientist recommends 5 books to help you detach at work

Pop quiz: Polling firm Gallup regularly asks workers about their stress levels at work. When did Gallup polls show our collective stress levels at an all-time high? If you said at the height of the pandemic, when so many of us were in lockdown, struggling with childcare issues, risking infection to provide essential services, or worried about losing our jobs, is that’s totally understandable. It’s also the wrong answer.

The highest workplace stress rate ever measured by Gallup was recorded in June 2022.

Although the situation with Covid is now objectively better, the cumulative stress of the past two years, ongoing disruption and inflation, and a perceived waning of employer interest in employee well-being have actually now left staff even more stressed. In short, there are many people out there who have lost their professional mojo.

What is the remedy? Experts offered about a million and one exercises and suggestions. But one neuroscientist has an appealingly simple suggestion: why not read your way through your post-pandemic funk?

“We all experience the occasional slump at work when everything feels like a pointless burden. Luckily, there are some books that can offer insight and advice to get you out of this mess,” neuroscientist Joe Bathelt writes on Medium, before prescribing five titles to help weary professionals push through their momentary aimlessness and brain fog and guesswork out of trouble.

1. The Motivation Myth by Jeff Haden

I was thrilled to see The Motivation Myth by my ever insightful Inc.com colleague Jeff Haden, who tops Bathelt’s list. “The main idea of ​​the book is that motivation is not the main driver of productivity, nor is it necessary,” writes Bathelt. Haden interviews successful athletes, business leaders, and creatives to uncover the real drivers of productivity and give readers practical advice on how to get your butt off even when you’re lacking motivation.

2. grit by Angela Duckworth

“Grit has become a hot topic in psychology and education,” Bathelt writes, acknowledging that there has been some resistance to the trendy concept recently. But Bathelt is still a fan of this groundbreaking title on the subject. “For those of us who might be feeling a little depressed, the book can help give you a fresh perspective,” he emphasizes, among other things “by showing that almost everyone encounters obstacles from time to time” and illustrating them , like “very successful people deal with it.”

3. expert by Roger Kneebone

“This book charts the evolution of the expertise and draws heavily on the experience of the author, who has worked as a surgeon, general practitioner and academic,” explains Bathelt von expert. What does that have to do with getting out of the crisis?

Through interviews with a wide range of experts (from an accomplished tailor to a leading barber), the book details the ups and downs through which true expertise develops and “illustrates the hurdles that must be overcome to get through.” each stage and highlights reasons why people can get stuck at a certain level.” Batheit reports that after reading it, “I saw my own difficulties in a different light…as typical of my stage of growing experience.”

4. Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Another course in the genre of psychology for a popular audience, Flow is one of the fundamental texts of the positive psychology movement. “I had stumbled upon the central concept of flow many times while reading books on a variety of subjects, including education, game design, and mindfulness,” says Bathelt. Reading the original source for the idea “helped clarify the central concept,” he says, and found the flow in his own work. “I expect many readers will find plenty of material to think about and possibly incorporate into their lives,” he concludes.

5. Happiness by design by Paul Dolan

“Whereas the other books on this list may rekindle your determination to work, this book may make you reconsider your relationship with work,” claims Bathelt of the title. “One of the key messages I got from the book is that we all need a balance of purpose and pleasure. For some people it’s a lot of purpose and some pleasure, while other people lean more towards the pleasure side. If you force yourself to tip the scales towards an equilibrium that doesn’t suit you, you will feel unhappy.” Looking at the ongoing Great Resignation, I think it’s an idea that many workers are benefiting from right now could.

Good luck reading out of your funk!

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own and not those of Inc.com.

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