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What Is Languishing And What You Can Do About It?

If there’s any word that has caught the attention of the world in general in 2021, it’s ‘languishing’. Needless to say, most of us would actually identify this phenomenon where we feel stuck, depressed, and in a state of limbo! For every task that we need to do, it seems we lack motivation and energy. Forget excitement, for the most part, we’re exhausted and burnt out. Corey Keyes, a famous sociologist had first coined this term as the “antithesis of flourishing”.

All That You Need To Know About ‘Languishing’

A certified and professional drug and alcohol counselor defined languishing as ‘apathy’, restlessness, and a feeling of unsettlement that produces a general lack of interest in life or all such things that bring joy and happiness. The reality is that languishing encompasses mixed feelings of emptiness, boredom, and a feeling of stagnation. Another reputed child psychiatrist and medical director had also added that languishing is not exactly a mental illness (since most people would be prone to thinking such), as any depressive state or panic disorder. To add more, going by previous research in 2002 (Keyes), almost 12.1% of adults had met the criteria of languishing.

Cases Where People Suffered And Eventually Recuperated

A school student who has been a victim of ‘online classes’ has intensely spurred such feelings and caused endless difficulties for her, in terms of managing her school and personal life. She has openly expressed how it’s not really ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but the inability she faces at large for focusing on almost every task. She feels “more drained than before”. Maia gave herself adequate time to relax, right when the pandemic began. Even when school reopened, she got back into her usual, busy routine, sans the energy.

The situation is much the same for another college-goer. In fact, for someone having a mental illness beforehand, languishing can pose more difficulties than ever. She could manage her “pre-existing generalized anxiety” at the start. But with mounting pressures than compounded even furthermore, she gained a better understanding of how she could improve on herself. But the distress and agony increased and that made her numb. The ambitious girl actually thought she was dealing with depression, but her therapist helped identify the situation.

Difference Between Depression And Languishing

While depression is usually characterized by feelings of sadness, worthlessness, changes in appetite, and even suicidal tendencies; symptoms of languishing include lethargy in putting considerable mental effort into day-to-day tasks. What’s saddening is that individuals who have a dark history of depression or anxiety or those ‘genetically predisposed’ to psychiatric conditions are also susceptible to languishing.

Effective Coping Mechanisms

To cope with languishing, try implementing some actionable ways as follows.

Take a break – Squeeze out time for yourself and relax. Lack of motivation or a feeling of being burnt out is real, so ensure you disconnect yourself periodically like a weekend. The brain is akin to a machine and overheating like always, means you need to shut off. To best way to restart is to gather some energy and not overload the brain unnecessarily.

Learn to enjoy yourself -Why emphasize what must make you happy? Rather you should try to find ways and means to enjoy yourself to the fullest. However, be cautious that these ways are worth exploring and not something harmful. For example, you can try taking a technology break and involve yourself in art workshops or book reading sessions.

Change the scenery -Move into space where you can enjoy the physical, natural views. This proves quite refreshing. Participating in any mindful walk or indulging in productive, physical activity would help in releasing the endorphins and enhancing our mood.

Choose therapy – Not many would agree to this, but resorting to therapies can help those who are dealing with languishing. Several people have availed so and actually benefited. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy can help reframe one’s negative thinking and also explore multiple coping avenues. Sometimes, medications also form a vital part of recuperating from this condition. Additionally, people who were not diagnosed earlier with mental issues like PTSD or ADHD learned the conditions and started taking all such measures to recover at the earliest.

In this situation, getting the right advice from a certified psychiatrist or mental health counselor is the first thing that you must do, before everything else.

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