Restorations Therapy Blog

Languishing: How to Understand the “Blah” of the Pandemic

by on Thursday, June 3rd, 2021


The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the world since early 2020. Now, in 2021, it has been over a year since anyone has had any semblance of normalcy. In the early days of the pandemic, many people discussed how to cope with the tragedy surrounding them. Blogs on depression, addiction, and other mental health issues were circulating everywhere. Now, many people are not feeling necessarily depressed but rather desensitized. Many describe this feeling as “blah.” With so much going on, it can be challenging to understand what this feeling is.

However, the New York Times has recently published an article that gives this feeling a name: languishing. By understanding what languishing is, how it affects you, and how to cope with it, you can begin to implement strategies to overcome these feelings to live your best life and protect your mental health.

What Is Languishing?

To languish is to remain stagnated, feel empty, or simply muddle through your days. You may not feel severely depressed or anxious; in fact, you may not feel much at all. The lack of feeling accompanied by languishing is what makes it difficult to pin down. You may find yourself experiencing less joy and pleasure in life as if you’re stuck in an endless cycle of numbness. The future seems foggy, and you aren’t sure what is going to happen next. 

What Causes Languishing?

To understand languishing, especially during this stage of the pandemic, it is vital to recall the early days of the virus. When COVID-19 struck, everyone was on high alert. Countries shut down, quarantine orders were in place, people were required to wear masks and gloves, and no one knew if a vaccine would be possible. This “high alert” mode caused your body to enter into defense mode. Your amygdala, responsible for detecting threats, was most likely in overdrive, causing you to feel exhausted, stressed, anxious, and depressed. 

Now that the pandemic has occurred for over a year, your body is most likely exhausted from being on constant alert. You don’t feel depressed, but you don’t feel like you’re at your best, either. The limbo that you are stuck in is languishing. Your motivation has decreased, you’re less productive, and you cannot be your best self in daily life. 

Risks and Impact

Although you aren’t necessarily depressed while stuck in a languished state, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t negatively impacted. With mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, noticing symptoms is more straightforward than when it comes to languishing. However, because you are still functioning, you may overlook the negative ways it may affect you. Slowly, you become more isolated, become more indifferent, and cannot help yourself because you don’t know you need help. For these reasons, languishing can be a risk factor for mental health disorders. Over time, significant areas of your life will start to be affected, putting you at risk for further problems. To avoid this, it is crucial to learn how to cope with languishing effectively.

Coping Strategies and Techniques

Now that you know what languishing is and how it affects you, the next step is knowing what to do about it — doing nothing while languishing can lead to the risk of mental health disorders, which can exacerbate what you are feeling especially during a pandemic. When it comes to languishing, coping strategies are a must to protect your mental health during a challenging time. You can do various things, and it is all about finding which one gives you the relief and peace you need.

  • Learn About “Flow”: The idea of flow was first described by Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who stated it is “an elusive state… of being so absorbed in what [one is] doing that they lose track of time and thought, finding themselves guided rather by instinct and intuition.” To make flow work for you, taking on new projects or engaging in activities you enjoy such as puzzles, baking, or Netflix binging can help you get in this state of mind and help you cope with languishing.
  • Make Short-Term Goals: Languishing thrives when you feel as though you have no purpose. Long-term goals are challenging to plan right now since things are still uncertain due to the pandemic. However, focusing on short-term goals and working towards them can help you combat languishing. When you accomplish these goals, you will feel motivated to keep going, thus allowing you to cope with languishing over time.
  • Have Some Downtime: Forcing yourself to work more hours will not combat languishing. You may feel burnt out if you do so, so you must take time for yourself to unwind and relax. Your brain will have the necessary time it needs to reset, thus helping you be more productive and motivated in your daily life.

Over a year into the coronavirus pandemic, many people feel better than burnt out but not quite flourishing. This complex feeling has left many stumped, as they aren’t sure what it is or how to fix it. Thankfully, an article published by the New York Times has given a name to this elusive feeling: languishing. Learning about languishing and how to cope with it is key to surviving these challenging and uncertain times. However, if you need further guidance to help you become your best self, Restorations Therapy has your back. Located in Colorado, we provide a range of services such as individual counseling, group counseling, and more. Through these programs, you can learn to overcome what is holding you back in life to reach your full potential while simultaneously treating any underlying mental health disorders. At Restorations, we understand the difficulties associated with this pandemic. Get help today at (720) 446-6585.

About Addiction Recovery Staff

USER FOR Addiction Recovery Publishing Staff

Stay informed on new services and projects