You might have noticed lately that you feel like you are in a constant state of feeling just, meh. Struggling to find motivation feeling a sense of emptiness and like you have nothing to look forward to. Like a constant underline of stress always there, not severe enough to want to do something about but strong enough that it is impacting you daily. You might find that you have been questioning if something is wrong with you, if covid has taken its toll on your mental health and you just do not feel like your normal self, nor do you know how to get yourself back there. This feeling is called languishing.
Languishing is a feeling of stagnation and emptiness. It is somewhere between thriving and depression. It is when you feel so blah, wanting to be productive yet having very little energy to get yourself up and moving. It can often lead to feeling like you are in fog, spending your whole day doing nothing and then at night feeling guilty for having wasted your time and staying up late to try and make up for it. It is when you know you will better if you get an early night but you cannot peel yourself away from Netflix because it is the only thing giving you a sense of feeling right now.
A chronic state of languishing is a risk factor for leading into depression. This feeling is probably one of the most dominant feelings for people in the year 2021. Everyone has been in a constant state of stress and unpredictability and now that constant state is leading people to feel very blah about their lives and struggling to feel hopeful for the future. If you are feeling this way you are definitely not alone. Understanding is power and once you understand what is going on for you this gives you more power to be able to do something about it. So, what can you do?
The secret to countering languishing is to find flow. Flow is the greatest predictor of a state of wellbeing. You might be mistaken to think the best predictor of wellbeing is optimism, but research shows finding flow will serve you a lot better. So what is flow? Flow is when you find something that keeps you engage. It is when you lose track of time and sometimes lose track of the self. It is when you can find yourself so immerse in something that you come out of it feeling accomplished and joyful. Finding flow is a combination of mastery, mindfulness and matter.
Mastery is when the project is challenging enough to keep your mind busy and engaged but not so challenging that it is too difficult and you choose to give up. Mindfulness is when you can keep your full attention on a single task. Matter is something that is making a positive difference. Flow can be found when you are binging on a Netflix show because you get so immersed in the characters and their lives. However finding flow through a television show is only a temporary fix. It is found when you are trying a new recipe, when you are doing something creative and when you are engaging in social situations. Flow does not always have to be something productive but something joyful instead.
When you find yourself struggling with the feeling of languishing, it is great to find something that challenges you and gives you a sense of purpose. This can be starting with something really small. Little goals each day that will keep you engaged. If you make the project for your flow too big, you are already exhausted from the mental battle of being in a pandemic so break everything down into small, achievable tasks.
Finding something small each day to bring a little sense of joy into your life is going to help you shift out of the feeling of languishing. What is something you can do this week to help shift this feeling? Keeping in mind that it is okay not to be okay. You do not have to be in a positive mood all of the time to help lift yourself out of this feeling of being, meh. Al you need is to add a bit of flow into your life.