Languishing: The answer to the question of lockdown lethargy

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

People from all around the world have been experiencing symptoms that they couldn’t quite put their finger on. Trouble concentrating, a feeling of emptiness and many reporting that, even with the phenomenal success of the vaccine rollout, they weren’t excited about 2021. Staying up until 3 a.m. and staying in until noon was becoming the norm for lots of generally ambitious and motivated people.

The energy and hopefulness that people still had, suggested it wasn’t a burnout or case of depression. So, this led to a search for a new diagnosis for the population’s aimlessness, and it wasn’t long before the term languishing began emerging on the tip of everyone’s tongues.  

“It refers to a feeling of stagnation and emptiness as you find yourself feeling like you’re looking at your life through misted glass and torrential rain.”

The term ‘languishing’ originates from the Latin ‘Languere’, meaning to feel faint or weak. It refers to a feeling of stagnation and emptiness as you find yourself feeling like you’re looking at your life through misted glass and torrential rain. The term was coined by a sociologist named Corey Keyes who noticed how many people who weren’t depressed, weren’t thriving. Keyes believes that those who are languishing right now, are more likely to develop severe anxiety and depression disorders within the next decade.

The pandemic has caused unprecedented confusion for many people due to the significant changes in routine and lifestyle. It has taken large amounts of adjustment and flexibility, just to get to grips with the everyday struggle. The threat of the virus along with travel and mask restrictions has only added to the confusion as the population attempt to grasp what the ‘right’ thing to do is. Whether to visit their parents or children, whether to book a holiday for the upcoming summer and even whether to get the vaccine or not.

“It’s symptoms do not carry the same intense weight as those of depression or anxiety, but they are still preventing the general population from thriving”

Other names and descriptions for this feeling have emerged such as, ‘lockdown fatigue’ or ‘pandemic blues’, but all of these point towards the exact same feeling. It’s not a mental illness, as its symptoms do not carry the same intense weight as those of depression or anxiety, but they are still preventing the general population from thriving and carrying out their everyday tasks with vigour.

Reports have suggested that those who are susceptible to high stress and anxiety levels are more likely to be experiencing languishing, along with those who have a history of depression. Similarly, those with extroverted personalities are much more likely to languish than the introverts due to their sudden inability to socialise and energise themselves amongst other people. Those who spend most of their time outside, socialising and participating in activities have had the biggest change to lifestyle since the pandemic, and it has clearly hit them harder than expected.

“Adding the term ‘languishing’ into everyone’s everyday vocabulary will help to combat the toxic positivity and allow others to understand how their friends and family are feeling’

So, how can we stay out of the languishing zone? Psychologists have found that a successful strategy for managing emotions is to put a name to its face. Adding the term ‘languishing’ into everyone’s everyday vocabulary will help to combat the toxic positivity and allow others to understand how their friends and family are feeling. You don’t want to say your feeling depressed when you don’t suffer from the mental illness, yet you don’t want to say your ‘fine’ when you’re not. Let’s get languishing circulating!

Some of the antidotes to languishing are those healthy basics such as: exercise, relaxation, healthy meals, and socialising. Similarly, creative activities have been proven to be beneficial to languishers. Journaling, painting, and sculpting are all great remedies and turning one of these into your new favourite pastime could be great for your mental health.

“focusing on one thing at a time allows you to engage better and drive up your motivation and productivity.”

Finding meaningful work and new challenges are other great ways to remove those stubborn roots of languish. These can help you find your flow and elusive state of absorption where your sense of time, place and self dissolves. Equally, focusing on one thing at a time allows you to engage better and drive up your motivation and productivity. This is easier to do when you set boundaries and focus on having quiet time, allowing your efficiency to naturally increase.

Similarly, directing your attention on small, achievable goals can help you to achieve lots of small wins and triumphs, intensifying your sense of self-worth. It can help to pull you out of your slumping mental health and curb the downwards spiral.

Cognitive behavioural therapy services are a great place to look for help with your languishing, as they are lot less invasive than medication, which would seem unnecessary unless faced with diagnosed anxiety or depression. Similarly, services such as complementary therapy, including aromatherapy, reflexology, Reiki, Bowen therapy, massage and Qigong, are great places to start feeling more relaxed and begin to curtail your darker moods.

It’s important to make time for yourself and your wellbeing to improve your mental health. The pandemic has been an extremely tough time for everyone in many different ways, and, although it is beginning to look more positive, we can’t ignore the long-term effects. The population is well aware of long Covid and the negative effects of the virus, but they are forgetting that the long-term effects of lockdown can be just as damaging.

If you have found yourself languishing, start the conversation with yourself, friends and family and begin to work through the different ways in which you can emerge from this slumber.

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