Trouble with concentration, a lack of motivation, no enthusiasm about the future, an overall feeling of “blah”…together these signal what psychologists refer to as “languishing”. This precarious emotional state lies between thriving or flourishing – the highest levels of emotional fitness – and more severe types of emotional distress that include diagnosable mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
Stress, especially the type of long-term chronic stress that individuals have experienced during the COVID pandemic, is one of the most common causes of languishing. When left unaddressed, languishing can often lead to more serious mental health concerns and is also a risk factor for alcohol and substance abuse disorders.
Caring for Your Emotional Wellbeing
Regularly scheduled, uninterrupted time to practice self-care has been shown to help lift the “fog” of languishing. Make a plan of action using one or more of these helpful tools:
Find Your Flow
“Flow” is the concept of becoming completely absorbed in a meaningful challenge, often to the point of losing track of time. A good book, complex puzzle, long run or swim, gardening, yoga or even an enjoyable work project can provide you with a sense of presence and exhilaration.
Pursue a Creative Outlet
Regularly activating your imagination has a calming effect on your brain and will help improve your ability to focus over time. Try immersing yourself in a word game, attempt a new recipe, have a singing or dancing playlist on queue or spend some time writing, crafting or painting. Give yourself permission to try new activities and lean into whatever brings you enjoyment.
Setting and accomplishing simple goals provides an emotional boost and fosters purpose. Decluttering a drawer, cleaning up your computer files, flossing your teeth or running an errand creates a break for your mind and heightens your resolve, all while you continue making steps forward.
The pandemic has demonstrated the need to rethink our understanding of mental wellbeing. “Not depressed” isn’t the same as thriving. If you continue feeling the impact of languishing in your life, SupportLinc offers in-the-moment support, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, by calling 1-888-881-5462. You can also access Coaching Services, toolkits and more.