Languishing is the void between depression and flourishing — (it is) the absence of well-being..”– Adam Grant
The usual response to a polite, “How are you doing?” is “I’m fine, thanks.”
It’s almost automatic.
But, in the context of Covid-19, has “fine” evolved to mean something else?
Something that describes the feeling of not being great, but not completely struggling either.
Something like “languishing.”
If you’ve been feeling off-purpose, sluggish, disconnected, and unwilling to engage with people, projects, and interests the way you normally would, you’re “languishing.”
And you are not alone.
Coined by American sociologist and psychologist Corey Keyes, the term languishing has grown in prominence as more and more people find themselves unable to function at their best.
While languishing isn’t considered a mental health condition like depression and anxiety, it is a state of “dullness” in which a languisher has (temporarily) lost his/her vitality.
Not sure if you’re languishing?
Here are some signs to look out for:
- You’re lacking motivation
- You’re unable to concentrate
- You’re often restless and unsettled
- You’re procrastinating more
- You feel as if you are just “going through the motions”
- You’re finding it difficult to do simple tasks
The key to identifying whether or not you are languishing is to know how you are feeling at any given moment.
This can be achieved through introspection and becoming aware of what your threshold for functionality, productivity, and enjoyment is.
And if you find that you are languishing — it’s okay. There are ways to overcome it:
1. Find your flow
“Flow” describes the state of being absorbed in a “meaningful challenge or momentary bond” where you lose sense of space, time, and self.
You can find your flow by engaging in creative activities — anything immersive that requires the use of your hands and body. Such activities include cooking, gardening, and painting.
2. Allow yourself some uninterrupted time
By giving yourself some interrupted time, you clear out distractions and are able to focus better, which increases productivity. Seeing that you are making progress with whatever task at hand contributes to feelings of joy and motivates you to continue on that trajectory.
3. Focus on smaller goals
Engaging in a challenge of “just-manageable difficulty” will allow you to enter into a state of flow. Find a daily challenge (not too easy but not overwhelming either) that captures your attention. Doing so is a step toward reclaiming your energy, enthusiasm, and vitality.
4. Indulge in some self-compassion
Be kind to yourself. Remind yourself that languishing is common and part of the human condition.
5. Connect with others
That feeling you get when you connect with others (be it in person or digitally) is uplifting and can nudge you toward flourishing.
6. Practise gratitude
Try keeping a gratitude journal where you list the things you are grateful for every day.
When you nurture an attitude of gratitude, you balance out your perceptions and are able to see things differently.
7. Find meaning in the mundane
Reflect on how that task you find boring is actually serving your highest values.
For example, if your family is of high value to you, see how that boring task of washing the dishes is serving your family.
Perhaps it allows your partner interrupted time to focus on business, which contributes to him/her bringing in more money.
8. Ask for help
If you’re concerned that languishing is becoming part of your identity or find it increasingly difficult to cope with everyday tasks, it is wise to reach out and ask for some help.
Even if you find yourself edging toward languishing (but aren’t quite there), know that you were meant to flourish, thrive, and be the absolute best you can be.
Whatever your needs, I am just an email (email@example.com) or WhatsApp away.
Let me know if you think you are languishing or just want more from life. I would love to help you be the very best version of you.
After all, you were born to shine.
From my heart to yours,