Languishing

Feeling Meh? There’s a new buzzword in town that gives a name for that “blah” you might be feeling. After a year of lockdowns, being separated from family and friends, endless anxiety and stress, it’s no secret that many of us are finding it difficult to concentrate and be productive. But what many of us might not realize, is there’s actually a name for what you are going through- it’s called languishing.

This terminology isn’t new in the world of mental health but has become a hot topic after a recent article was published in the New York Times, giving it the title of “the dominant emotion of 2021”.

So what does it mean exactly? “I’m FINE.” Sure, you’re fine, but are you good? Languishing is described as falling somewhere between not feeling good but not feeling terrible. It’s an absence of well-being, and scarcity of joy. Right now this state is prevalent because of the lack of social contact, regular routine, life purpose and control— things that are known to improve your mental health.

If things appear dull, and you’re feeling like you have a mega lack of energy, find it hard to regain focus, can’t manage daily activities, have lost interest in work (or even struggle to work), don’t have positive feelings about life, and are struggling when it comes to productivity, you are most likely languishing.

We can’t neglect the mental toll of what we’ve been through over the past year, and it’s understandable that we’re all just really, really tired. We miss the good stuff…seeing friends, going out to restaurants, travelling. So what can we do to pull ourselves up? Understanding and identifying languishing helps us shift our focus.

  • Recognize you are in this state.
  • Identify what you have stopped doing in your life that generally makes you happy.
  • Determine habits that can pull you back.
  • Fill out a calendar. Do things regularly every day. Find your routine.
  • Work on rebuilding positive relationships with others. Pick up the phone and talk to people.
  • Try to find that purpose. Many of us are missing that direction in life right now, which keeps pushing us into the state of languishing.

These little steps can help you see changes and improvements daily. However it’s also important to realize that languishing does carry the potential risk for future issues and could be heading in the direction of depression. So how do you know if it’s more than languishing that you’re experiencing? When you’re no longer walking that line between feeling good and terrible, but leaning towards feeling lousy for extended periods of time, you should look into getting support from a counsellor or mental health professional. Things to watch for— when coping strategies aren’t helping or are leading to overspending, substance abuse, and excessive eating, along with other signs such as thoughts of self-harm or suicide and feeling like no one cares or understands you.