Do you feel like you’re living life in a fog? Are you having trouble concentrating? Does it feel like you are experiencing burnout and only have enough energy to get through the day? These feelings aren’t as serious as clinical depression, but the struggle is still very real.
You’re probably experiencing a sense of languishing.
Many psychologists have used the word “languishing” as the mood or series of emotions that have dominated 2021 and will likely be around in 2022 as well.
Languishing was first coined by Sociologist Corey Keyes as the antithesis of flourishing, “apathy, a sense of restlessness or feeling unsettled or an overall lack of interest in life or the things that typically bring you joy.”
Adam Grant, a well-known author and organizational psychologist at Wharton, describes languishing in the New York Times as, “a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days while looking at your life through a foggy windshield.”
Leela R. Magavi, MD, a Johns Hopkins-trained psychiatrist and regional medical director for Community Psychiatry, California’s largest outpatient mental health organization, describes languishing as encompassing “distressing feelings of stagnation, monotony, and emptiness”
If you can relate, you’re not alone. One explanation as to why so many people are feeling this way is the shock of our world suddenly upending in 2020. The abnormal experience and duration of stressors associated with the pandemic have only increased its prevalence.
Many have described this as a feeling of “looming indifference”. On the spectrum of our mental well-being, depression being the worst and flourishing being the best, many of us are somewhere stuck in the middle.
Languishing can make us feel like we’re not functioning at full capacity. We are not functioning at our best nor are we functioning at our worst. We may not notice the dulling of our happy emotions, and we may not be concerned (or aware) enough to seek help.
This affliction can generate serious risk factors for our mental health, which can ultimately lead to even more serious long-term health issues.
So even if you’re not languishing, you probably know someone who is. Understanding how we cope with and even counter the effects of languishing can help lift that fog for you and for others.
How to Cope with Change and Counter the Effects of Languishing
1. ACKNOWLEDGE: Acknowledge your emotions. Be aware of how you are feeling. If you are feeling blah and indifferent, accept it. If ignore or suppress your feelings, you won’t be open to taking action to modify, counter or cope with your stressors.
2. REFRAME: Use techniques to reframe your experience. Instead of getting stuck in the mental or verbal gymnastics that reinforce how bad or blah things are, engage in the act of gratitude, think, share, speak, and write about the positive things in your life. Think about all the big and little things you are grateful for and look for ways you can show love and kindness to yourself and others.
3. SELF-CARE: Practice self-care such as meditation and being more mindful. Exercise, dance, and go for a walk. Do things you enjoy that put your body in motion. Eat healthier, reach out to people you love, and engage in (healthy) behaviors that speak to your soul. On the flip side, be sure to avoid negativity and negative energy at all costs. Distance yourself (as appropriate) from people, places, topics and things that bring about a negative mindset.
4. FOCUS rather than the things you cannot. Make a list of things within your control and things that are not as a point of reference. Clouds lift when you eliminate the noise and the stress that comes with the things you can’t control, and shift that energy and focus on the things you can control.
5. DON’T COMPARE yourself to others. We are all unique. We all have different upbringings, stories, and experiences. We all move at our own pace. Avoid comparisons. Love who you are and where you’re at without judgment.
6. SEEK SUPPORT: Don’t be afraid to seek support from friends, family, or a professional. Take advantage of resources offered by your employer. Most Employee Assistance Programs and telehealth providers visits offer free or low-cost virtual and/or in-person counseling to help you better cope with the issues and emotions that life throws our way, including languishing.
7. COMPASSION: Be compassionate with yourself! Give yourself a break and acknowledge that you, and everyone else, are doing the best you can under difficult circumstances.
By practicing these coping mechanisms, we learn to reframe our experiences in a more positive light. This allows us to be more present for ourselves, our family, friends and co-workers. Being consistent, yet flexible, we can better navigate change in our daily lives.
Supporting Your Employees Mental Health
One of the many things that set Valley Schools apart is our dedication and focus on helping improve the health and well-being of our members. Prevention is a valuable tool when it comes to our physical and mental health. Through our exclusive Wellness Program, our members and their employees have access to monthly motivational fitness challenges, wellness speakers series, healthy recipes and cooking videos, and so much more.
Download our free printable from WellStyles, our wellness program.
If you’re interested in learning more about our wellness program and the value of a benefits consultant, contact us today!