Are you languishing? Here’s how to find your motivation again

Feeling ‘blah’? You’re not alone. It’s reported to have been the dominant emotion of 2021.
Officially, it’s called ‘languishing’ and is described as a sense of aimlessness, stagnation and emptiness.

Languishing has been identified as a long-term emotional side effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. But it doesn’t have to continue indefinitely. Read on to learn how to regain your energy and thrive – now and beyond the pandemic.

What is languishing?

If you feel like you’re experiencing life through a foggy windshield and wading through your days – just existing, really – then you may well be languishing. It disrupts your ability to focus and it dampens your motivation. It’s been described as ‘the void between depression and flourishing’, and appears to be more common than major depression.

Even if you’re not languishing, it’s highly likely that you know people who are. Understanding the condition means you can better help yourself and others.

Why is languishing so common today?

In the early days of the pandemic, most of us went into fight-or-flight mode. As a coping mechanism we subconsciously developed routines to ease our panic and comfort ourselves – 10k steps and a slice of banana bread, anyone?

However, as the months dragged on, that initial acute panic and related activity morphed into monotony and emotional exhaustion, which sowed the seeds for languishing.

Am I languishing?

If you identify with the following emotions, you may be languishing:

  • Feeling ‘blah’ – nothing is wrong but nothing is quite right, either
  • Aimlessly going about your day without much emotion
  • Experiencing a lack of energy and motivation
  • Feeling disconnected from friends, family and colleagues
  • Having difficulty focusing
  • Being unable to describe your feelings

How to manage and bounce back from your languishing state

Name that emotion
While there’s still plenty to be learnt about languishing and how to treat it, psychologists agree that naming it is the first important step to recovery. It gives us a clearer idea of what we’re experiencing and reminds us that we’re not alone in our struggle.

Find your flow
‘Flow’ is that state of absorption when you become so immersed in a task that your sense of time and place melts away. Different people find their flow in different activities. Try to think back to something you’ve done that really absorbed your attention and left you feeling satisfied. If you’re struggling to remember one, a few common flow activities include:

  • Doing a puzzle or word game (hello, Wordle!)
  • Reading a good book
  • Painting, drawing or crafting
  • Playing an instrument or listening to music
  • Starting or changing up your exercise routine
  • Going for a walk and listening to a podcast
  • Dancing

Whatever you choose, remember that it doesn’t have to be grand or elaborate. Simply ask yourself at the end of it: did this feel restorative? If the answer is yes, then you’ve found your flow.

Be intentional with your time
Finding your flow is one thing, but it’s difficult to enjoy your activities if you’re unable to focus on them. Be intentional about carving out time for yourself and set boundaries so you guard these uninterrupted periods of time as precious treasures. Yes, that may mean putting away your phone or switching to aeroplane mode. Splitting your attention between a project, your inbox and the news will put you in the opposite of flow.

Create a gratitude practice
You’ve heard it before, and for good reason. Take time every day to acknowledge the good things in your life, whether it’s a roof over your head, a delicious meal or the fact that your demanding line manager was on leave this week. This simple act may seem insignificant but it has been correlated with improved mood.

Reach out
Talking about your feelings – or lack thereof – is essential to managing your mental health. Ask your company’s Life Health Solutions Employee Wellness Service representative about our mental-health support services.

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