Discover the concept of languishing and learn effective coping strategies to reclaim your well-being. Explore practical insights, resilience-building techniques, and self-care practices to navigate through challenging times.
Understanding Languishing: Coping Tips
The word “languishing” in a general sense has always been associated with negative emotions, such as lack of energy, enthusiasm or motivation. In psychology, the term has similar, yet more specific meanings.
To define languishing we need to understand it within the context of what constitutes positive mental well-being and what enables a person to feel fulfilled mentally, emotionally, and socially. This is often referred to as a state of “flourishing”. Languishing on the other hand is used to describe an absence of positive mental well-being.
However, it does not indicate depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, or a serious mental health condition, but rather a state where one feels neutral, low in energy, unmotivated, or unbothered. While you may not feel immense sadness, you are not likely to experience feelings of elation or enthusiasm.
It is important to address this neutral feeling, as it can potentially lead to more negative feelings in the long run.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Languishing?
Since languishing is not a specific psychiatric disorder, the signs and symptoms are fluid and varied depending on the circumstance a person is going through. In order to understand languishing, we must first identify the signs when a person is thriving.
When you feel happy, loved, and motivated to accomplish your goals, it is often a sign of positive mental well-being. You may also feel satisfaction in your social and interpersonal relationships. When you are flourishing, you trust yourself to find ways to tackle the challenges of everyday life and progress towards your dreams.
Does this mean that languishing means the complete opposite? Not quite.
In psychology, you can tell if you are languishing through the following signs.
Emotional and Psychological Signs
Emotional signs often have to do with self-esteem and drive. When you are languishing, you may often reflect on your past selves, achievements, and passions and feel that you have lost that spark or curiosity.
People who experience this feeling often lack the drive or self-belief to set goals and follow through with them. Yet, when languishing, you are likely to not focus on the future or a vision for yourself.
When you look back at your past self, there is also a tendency to assume that a previous version of yourself was the best one and that things cannot improve from a previous summit you have convinced yourself that you reached.
This leads to increased disappointment in the type of person you are or have become, as compared to before. This may also stem from associated childhood experiences where you faced fewer challenges.
You may also find yourself not interested in the world around you, not keeping up to date with news or events, and not having particularly strong opinions about regularly discussed topics.
On a social level, languishing can often make it difficult for you to enjoy what is usually considered enjoyable moments in a gathering, event, or a close get-together. It may also prevent you from making new meaningful connections.
This may extend to your family, community, or even groups that advocate for social causes as you feel a sense of disconnect between yourself and the world outside of you. As people appreciate you or applaud your actions, instead of reveling in the moment, you continue to feel this neutral sensation.
Additionally, you may find it difficult to reach out for help or help people yourself, and avoid having to rely on others for your needs. Remember, you are likely to still maintain your social relationships - you simply find it difficult to extract the happiness that comes from maintaining them.
Tips to Cope with Languishing
Since languishing is not a specific mental health condition, it is possible to find effective self-care strategies to cope with it, based on your unique needs. The first step towards coping with languishing is being conscious about your concerns and aware that steps need to be taken to resolve them.
Try to be in touch with how you spend your time and how every conversation or activity you are part of is aiding your attempt to tackle languishing. These could be simple activities such as hanging out with your friends, listening or playing music, or other personal hobbies that bring out the best in you.
On the other hand, identify the areas of your life that bring you constant dissatisfaction. If there are aspects that you can choose to not be involved in or reduce your involvement, look to try and do that.
When it comes to engaging in an individual or group activity, it is important to remember that some things are more enjoyable to you than others. If playing a video game after a long day at work makes you feel more empty, avoid it.
However, if you feel a rush of accomplishment, social connection and cognitive engagement, you could utilize it to improve your mood.
Similarly, finding activities that trigger your emotional, social, intellectual needs can help you immerse yourself in it, losing track of time. Normally, this happens when you challenge yourself at something.
This could be a long term goal like learning a new language or instant like solving a puzzle. If you are inclined towards arts, you could look to paint, draw, write or create something out of your imagination.
You could engage in sports, read a book or take part in a course that helps you learn something new and interesting. Remember that the feeling of languishing takes a while to erase itself, and thus, it is crucial that you commit to these self-care actions for a prolonged period of time.
Over time, you will see yourself regain your energy and enthusiasm to engage in your own passions as well as connect with others.
Difference between Depression, Anxiety, and Languishing
The key distinction between languishing and depression or anxiety is that languishing is not a mental health condition that can be diagnosed by an expert or systematically treated. Depression is often characterized by feelings of extreme sadness or mental distress.
A person with depression may feel that all hope is lost, and even contemplate self-harm. Depression also prevents a person from functioning optimally with respect to personal, social or professional responsibilities.
Anxiety is a related, yet specific case of a person experiencing moments or phases where they are engulfed by feelings of fear or worry. These feelings do not represent your usual or permanent state of mind.
Languishing cannot be described as sadness. Rather it is a sense of stagnation, signified by a lack of motivation and focus, often accompanied by a feeling of emptiness or lack of energy.
While depression and anxiety are more intense, potentially severe and may require clinical intervention, languishing can be a precursor to them.
Despite the fact that languishing cannot be medically diagnosed, remember that your feelings and emotions through it are valid and worth expressing, either to those close to you or to a mental health professional.