Change; the one thing that has the most dramatic impact on our lives and we are surrounded by it. 2021 to date has proven a rollercoaster ride from the various factors around us that constantly change and evolve.
One thing is certain, we cannot avoid change and the more we resist it the tougher our life becomes. As a result, this may lead to one feeling what some might say is “indifferent”. However, taking it a step further, you may not exactly be sad or distressed, but you may not be able to describe yourself as thriving either.
Words to describe how you are feeling may escape you but you know “something” is going on, you could be experiencing languishing. This is when you feel disconnected from your world, but you are not in notable distress – you are tired, burnt out, and not often excited, but also restless, eager to engage, and are trying.
Cory Keys first coined the term languishing as; when one describes the absence of a mental disorder that does not necessarily equate to mental health. Yet still, the feeling of languishing can be mistaken for depression or any mental health-related challenge depending on the intensity that it is experienced. Languishing may affect some of your thoughts, decisions, emotions, and behaviors.
For someone, languishing may mean attending an event only to leave early because it brought them no enjoyment. For someone else, this may mean declining it all together as you may not feel strongly about not going, but you might not see why going would be any better than sitting at home either.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the mental health and well-being of people around the world. A number of us are still experiencing dramatic lifestyles and changes that have important factors, including isolation and social distancing.
The following emotions and/or states of mind may be indicators that you may be in a state of languishing:
- Lack of motivation
- Foggy thinking, feeling unfocused
- Low enthusiasm about life in general
- Feelings of emptiness and dullness
- Not highly engaged or passionate about work or school
- Working toward goals in order to avoid something negative rather than achieve something positive
As human beings, it is in our nature to want to live our lives in our comfort zone. Our subconscious likes this because it is the “known”. Embracing change is stepping into the unknown and our subconscious does not like it so it will resist change.
However, it is better to be prepared for change because we, unknowingly, may have more control over how we react to the change we are having to face in our lives.
While managing a state of languishing, here are a few factors that you can manage/control:
Mindfulness – Take Time Off Where Possible
Focusing on your present moment; whether practiced in the form of yoga, walks in nature, meditation, or conscious breathing exercises, has been shown to improve the state of mind, mood, and life satisfaction.
Focusing on physical well-being
Exercising, eating nutritious food, and getting plenty of quality sleep are important for both physical and mental well-being
Keeping in touch with family and friends can be an important part of feeling connected and can help you feel supported
Making environmental changes
Sometimes your environment may influence how you feel. These changes may be small and progressive, like changing the color of your bedroom walls or adding fresh flowers to your desk. As you introduce these small changes, notice how they affect how you feel.
Keeping a journal can help you express your thoughts and see patterns in daily behavior.
It is an act of creating a space to focus on what you are grateful for. It may even help you identify signs of languishing early.
Learning new skills
Learning something new affects your brain and also helps you improve focus. It may even help you feel motivated and establish small goals that could build up a sense of accomplishment. This, in turn, could improve how you feel.
Our fear and self-limiting beliefs will kick into action when we are faced with the disruptive consequences of change. There is no escaping the fact that change is a disruptor and it feels uncomfortable and scary. However, it is our power of choice that enables us to activate positive change in our lives.
Individuals with a history of depression and anxiety or who are genetically predisposed to psychiatric conditions are more prone to languishing than others.
— LEELA MAGAVI, MD
While languishing is not a mental health disorder, it increases the risk of depression. Therefore, if feelings of languishing are getting worse or just not getting better, it may be time to seek help from a clinical professional.
If you feel that your languishing has progressed into something else, like depression, a mental health professional can help develop a targeted treatment plan to get you back on track. On the flip side, the good news is that there are certainly ways to address that languishing feeling and they are simple, everyday things that you can incorporate into your routine.
Homework: How to Create a Routine
When we were younger, most of us were told to go to bed at a certain time, wake up at a certain time, do our homework after school, eat dinner at a regular hour, shower, even play with our friends at a specific time. But what about adults? Many grownups do not have a set daily routine and ‘wing’ their day.
I have learned that designing and adhering to a personal daily routine is the path to freedom, productivity, happiness, and fulfilling our true potential.
You will need:
- A Pen
- A Journal
Purpose: The first and most important step in overcoming languishing or identifying if you need to seek help from a clinical professional is to bring the focus back to specific tasks for set periods of time, if possible, to regain the sense of self-awareness.
Decide what needs to be in your routine.
Do you want to get more exercise or more alone time? Prioritizing what is important to you before starting is imperative.
Set small goals.
Break each large goal into smaller goals. If your overall goal is to eat healthier meals, start by changing one thing a day, every day, to build confidence. When you accomplish that, congratulate yourself!
Layout a plan.
Start with one week at a time and start small
Write it all out on a calendar, almost like an appointment.
Be consistent with time.
If you want to get a daily walk in, attempt it at the same time every day.
Make sure you have everything you need to accomplish your routine as envisioned.
Make it fun!
Getting into a new routine and new goals are not always fun, but there are ways to make it fun, for example, getting a good playlist for cleaning and try new cooking classes.
Track your progress.
Create a visual calendar that you can cross off each day that you complete the task.
Once you have fallen into a routine on a consistent basis, reward yourself with something fun.