Do not fear….Dr. Aparna Kumar, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, here to talk about this!
😿 What is languishing?
It is living but having little joy, purpose, or aim. It is going through the motions of daily life but not feeling good about it and maybe even not being able to take the next steps. One feels stagnant or stuck. It can even be accompanied by sad feelings, anxiety, poor motivation, and maybe even lower productivity. But it isn’t depression and it isn’t a mental health diagnosis. It helps us describe a state of being. (Check out a recent article describing this.)
❗ Why is it important?
It is important because a lot of people feel this right now. And by calling it something and using research to inform this collective state of being, we recognize that this is really happening. Whether it is due to the pandemic directly or related to social, psychological, or economic factors, is not clear. But researchers, particularly Dr. Corey Keyes, an American socialist and psychologist, also note that the feeling of languishing is important to define because, without support, people experiencing the state of languishing may be at higher risk of negative mental health, including diagnoses such as anxiety and/or depression.
🌈 What is it not?
Languishing is not equivalent to mental illness or a mental health diagnosis. It is a term that reflects poor mental health, the negative end of the mental health spectrum. At the other end of the spectrum is flourishing: being in an overall state of well-being and feeling good. Flourishing can also be described as having strong social connections, feeling satisfied, and experiencing and seeking growth. It is a central concept to positive psychology. For this reason, many recent articles have suggested ways to enhance flourishing such as savoring, gratitude, helping others, and setting goals. For tips on this, see our previous post on positive psychology techniques and creating a purpose statement.
🤷🏽♀️ So what should I do?
🎯 Recognize what you are feeling and your current state of being. Have you noticed some of the feelings or behaviors described here? Have you felt stagnant and/or unable to make a change? Has this worsened since the start of the pandemic?
📋 Then it may be time to do something differently. Some of the strategies we have previously discussed may be helpful. But most importantly, do something that works for you. And remember the basics: establish a schedule, focus on nutrition and hydration, practice good sleep hygiene, get outside, and stay connected to people. Of course, there is no one way for all people to move out of this state. If you try several strategies on your own and don’t notice a difference within a month, then it may be time to seek additional support (How do I find a therapist? and Struggling with anxiety and depression). And if the state of languishing resonates with how you are feeling, remember that this won’t last forever and that even the smallest step towards positive mental health is one in the right direction.
Stay safe. Stay sane.
Those Nerdy Girls
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (Español: 1-888-628-9454; Hearing Support: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
Additional articles on languishing: