Alongside the normal trials and tribulations of everyday life, the pandemic and its lasting impact haven’t helped many people’s mental health. If you are feeling a bit down or slightly off, you are not alone. Many people are struggling but cannot quite put a finger on how they are feeling. You, like many others, may be languishing.
What Does Languish Mean?
Languishing is a term coined by sociologist Corey Keyes used to describe feelings of aimlessness and emptiness as well as a sense of being stuck. In less technical terms, languishing may be likened to feeling “meh” or “blah.” Languishing falls somewhere between flourishing and depression, so it can be hard to tell when you are stuck in this state and your well-being is declining. Signs of languishing may include:
- Lack of motivation
- Poor concentration
- Lack of excitement about the future
- Being stuck in a monotonous routine
- Not functioning at your fullest
- Loss of purpose
While not as severe and not its own mental health disorder, languishing may be one of the first warning signs of depression or the onset of another behavioral health condition.
Languishing & COVID-19
While the term has been around since 2002, languishing has in many ways become a hallmark for the general feeling surrounding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This is due in part to an article recently written on the topic in The New York Times as it helped many put a name to their “meh” feelings from the past year. While panic, anxiety, and fear spiked at the beginning of lockdown, they have now been replaced with boredom, emptiness, and languishing as people sit by waiting for the pandemic to finally come to an end. Psychologist Sheila Forman has also likened the term languishing to the pandemic blues.2 Even with the push for vaccinations and the downgrading of restrictions, languishing may just be the start. A study of Italian healthcare workers during the pandemic found that those who were categorized as languishing were three times more likely to also have a provisional PTSD diagnosis compared to health workers who were considered to have moderate mental health.3 As the world starts to go back to normal, the mental health effects of the pandemic are likely to linger. The need for PTSD treatment and services for other mental health conditions will probably rise as people ignore these languishing warning signs and take time to recover.
What to Do If You Are Languishing
If you feel like you are languishing, it is time to start making your mental health a priority. Some potential ways to help yourself when you are languishing may include:
- Setting time aside to do something you enjoy
- Breaking up your normal monotonous routine
- Finding a creative outlet
- Planning fun events for the future
- Setting small goals
- Trying something new
- Talking to a friend
- Getting professional mental health care to avoid a continued decline in well-being
At Vertava Health, we want to help. We offer flexible outpatient and virtual mental health treatment so that making your mental health a priority is easier. Get started today so you can go from languishing to flourishing.