2021 isn’t quite what we expected… as we waved goodbye to 2020 and came into the new year with a fresh sense of hope and optimism, the challenges of COVID-19 seemed behind us. But, with the spread of the Delta variant, prolonged lockdowns and the building tensions surrounding vaccines, that hope and optimism seemed to fade as quickly as it came.
Now, more than 18-months on from the start of the pandemic, more and more people are talking about this lack of optimism or the feeling of “blah” and it has a name, languishing.
What is Languishing?
Have you noticed that you’ve felt differently lately? You don’t quite feel like you are thriving, can’t put your finger on exactly how you are feeling, you are not sad, you are not distressed or depressed, you are just feeling …… ‘ blah’. If so – you may be among many who are currently experiencing an emotion we refer to as languishing.
Languishing is the opposite of flourishing – connecting and having a purpose and a general feeling of positivity to life. Instead, languishing is a feeling of disconnect. So in a way, the emotions associated with languishing are the opposite of those you feel when you flourish.
The word languishing comes from the early Latin root word “languere”, which means to feel faint and unwell. However, this is not how we now refer to it in positive, centred psychology.
If you think of the wellbeing continuum, where one end is optimal wellbeing and the other is ill health, then languishing fits in the middle of the continuum, not quite on the distress side of the scale, nor on the side leading to flourishing or optimal wellbeing where we mentally, emotionally, socially and physically feel happy with where we are at.
It is important to note that languishing is not a formal mental health diagnosis like anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression are diagnosable mental health conditions and they are persistent rather than fluctuating. But even though languishing is not a mental health condition, the emotions you are experiencing are valid and real, which is why we need to address them to try and move up the wellbeing continuum.
The feeling of languishing is not a permanent state of mind and doesn’t linger as a diagnosable mental health condition.
Signs you may be experiencing languishing
Languishing may affect decisions, behaviours, feelings towards yourself and others. Signs of languishing include:
- You are not happy and not sad, sort of in the middle. One day you may feel things are going ok and the next day, not so much.
- The feeling of being stagnant, fatigued or burnout.
- You don’t feel as motivated as you usually do; that drive has just fizzled a bit.
- You don’t feel anxious but a bit unsettled.
- Your concentration may not be as good as it usually is.
- You feel a sense of apathy towards life, it’s not as easy to get excited about things as it used to be, and you may not have the same interest in your hobbies.
- Weight gain or loss.
- Increase in alcohol consumption.
What you can do to combat the feeling of “blah”
Practice mindfulness: It’s been proven to effectively address and combat emotions such as languishing.
Practice self-care: Try to get in a bit of exercise each day and to eat well – look for nutritious food that nurtures both body and mind.
Be creative: Try and do other things that you never thought you would.
Maintain healthy relationships: Regular check-ins over the phone or computer with family, friends and colleagues is important to stay connected and to maintain our overall wellbeing.
Do something – don’t just sit around and dwell on your emotions, get up, and do something, whether it’s cooking, going for a walk, doing some meditation or yoga, anything that stimulates your physical or mental wellbeing. Physical activity is known for positively improving your physical and mental wellbeing.
Maintain a healthy sleep routine: Go to bed at a similar time each day, leave your mobile phone and similar devices outside of the bedroom and stick to the routine. As we move into the warmer season, try and keep your bedroom cool and dark to aid restful and comfortable sleep.
Talk to someone: When you feel you need someone to talk to, consider seeking professional support. Part of Benestar’s Employee Assistance Program, our MyCoach service gives you access to free and confidential coaching and support. There are also a number of organisations that can offer help and support. An excellent way to get started is to call WayAhead’s information line that can connect you with services, provide support and share information. (WayAhead Info Line – 1300 794 991)
Proactively looking after yourself helps you get through this. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
Watch Benestar’s short video on Languishing here.
Head of Products and partnerships