What is Languishing & Why Are We All Feeling It?
If there is a dominant emotion of 2020, 2021, and this pandemic, languishing is it.
I don’t know about you, but this pandemic has got me feeling completely out of sorts.
“Meh” and “blah” are fairly good ways to sum it all up. Yet, for a while, I really thought I was depressed. Then I thought, “Nah, I’m just bored.” And then, finally, I came across the word.
And I bet if you’re reading this, you can probably relate.
You’re not really sad. Well, maybe you kind of are. But not depressed. You feel stuck like life has come to a grinding halt, and you’re in this limbo, la-la land. You feel tired, beaten down, and not really excited about anything. And you definitely aren’t feeling like yourself.
You, my friend, are languishing. And a lot of us are right now.
But first, take a moment here. How good does it feel to have a word for this feeling? I’m languishing. You’re languishing. We’ve identified the feeling. Maybe we feel a sense of relief. Perhaps we’re feeling a little less alone.
So, let’s dig into this more.
What does this feeling even mean? What does languishing feel like exactly? And how can we overcome languishing in this COVID world? Hang in there. In this article, we’re diving into all of this and more.
Languishing Meaning: What Is It?
I’ve got nothing but good things to say about life pre-pandemic. But when COVID hit, like a lot of us, I felt a huge part of my life pulled out from under me.
Travelling, what’s that? Having gatherings with friends and family, not allowed.
It felt like every turn, every good thing in my life was slowly evaporating due to various new COVID restrictions and lockdowns.
As time dragged on, I started chatting with friends more, getting used to the idea that I might not be able to see a lot of them face-to-face and settling for phone calls or video chats.
Yet, it felt like there was a big, dark cloud hanging over all of us. We couldn’t quite put our finger on it.
We’d ask each other how we were… Answers changed from “good” to “alright” or “hanging in there.” Enthusiasm seemed to dimmer in some conversations. Sometimes, we even struggled to find anything to talk about.
Getting out of bed each day got harder and harder. Life seemed to be seriously lacking excitement, joy, and generally, good emotions. I felt like I was going through the motions of my work without a clear purpose or balance.
It felt aimless.
Then, my friend sent me an article by the New York Times. And the lightbulbs went off. I was languishing. We were all languishing. This is what was happening.
Google quickly defines languishing as “failing to make progress or be successful.”
And that is exactly it. Usually, there is so much to look forward to in life. From an upcoming trip, a wedding, or a big gathering, there are usually events and things happening. Progress was almost constant.
But not right now.
Make sure to read: How to Start Addressing Pandemic-Related Stress
Languishing & Mental Health
If you’ve been wondering how languishing and mental health go hand-in-hand, here’s the gist: Languishing throws your motivation out the window. You become more likely to not work as much.
And it can even be a precursor to more serious mental health issues.
When this languishing feeling continues for long durations (like during this pandemic), you can become depressed and anxious. So if you’re languishing with COVID right now, let’s regroup together.
We’re going to improve it so that our mental health doesn’t take a deep dive for the worst.
Yes, you might not feel motivated. But I’m going to pull a phrase from Nike: Just do it! Let’s just take those baby steps and pull ourselves out of the ditch we’ve found ourselves in. We can do it. You’ve got this.
So, let’s go!
Overcoming Languishing During COVID
Pandemic languishing is quickly becoming a common problem. And you can already see it seeping into the mental health world as more and more people seek out therapy and help.
What does this mean? It means we have to do something about it. We’ve got to come out of this pandemic stronger than before (and we totally can). So, how can we get over this languishing feeling?
1. Give Yourself Space & Time
This is super vague. So, what does this mean exactly?
It means saying “no” to new projects and taking time off when you need it. Allow yourself to have free time. Don’t force all the popular hobbies on yourself just because everyone else is doing it.
Do you. Watch that same show you’ve watched a billion times. Give your brain and mind a break from all the chaos that is COVID.
I’m giving you (and myself) permission to do this. Contrary to what many people are saying, now doesn’t have to be the time to work harder. Take care of yourself. Tune into what you truly need right now.
Then, give yourself some of that (and yes, it might look different with COVID. Do your best).
2. Get Out of the House
Change up your environment. Many of us continue to be stuck at home, but we can go outside for exercise. So, use this to your advantage. Get out for a walk. Switch up your scenery. Gain another perspective outside of the four walls you’ve been stuck in for most of the last year.
Chances are, you’ll feel a ton better afterward, and you even get a little movement in!
3. Talk to Someone
Preventative therapy is a thing. Therapy isn’t just for those diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. It’s for everyone. And sometimes, we just need to talk about our feelings in a safe and secure space.
Therapy gives us that.
More specifically, therapy with a little dose of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help you gain back control over your thoughts. You can reframe any negative thought patterns, breaking through them and finding the good in each situation.
Speaking from first-hand experience, this has helped so much!
4. Make Small & Easy Attainable Goals for Yourself
It’s hard to think far into the future right now. There’s a ton of uncertainty about when we can do certain activities.
So, focus on the small goals. What can you achieve with what you have? Where would you like to see yourself in a month? Plan. Set those goals. Keep them small and do the best you can with the resources available to you.
For example, maybe you want to do 10 push-ups in a row. This is totally doable. Each day, practice your push-ups. In a week or maybe a few weeks, you’ll be doing 10 no problem.
Or maybe you want to start a journaling habit. Now is the time. Set a goal for it and work toward it.
Moving Past Languishing
Pandemic languishing may have taken over our lives right now. But it won’t be forever. Feelings are always temporary. Take the steps you need to feel good right now. Find joy in small bits of life. I know it’s hard. I feel you.
Yet, looking after your mental health has never been more important than right now.
Sure, you’re just languishing now. But depression, anxiety, and more aren’t far behind. I feel them lurking in the shadows. Maybe you do too. So, let’s make a pact here and now; We will overcome this languishing feeling. We’re going to do what we can with what we have.
COVID isn’t necessarily going to hold us back.
Related article: How Exercise Improves Your Mental Health