Dr Maike Neuhaus
What to do when you’re languishing
If you're feeling stuck, unfulfilled, or disconnected from your life, you may be experiencing what psychologists refer to as "languishing." Languishing is the opposite of flourishing or having mental wellbeing and is a state of chronic low mood and low engagement.
Languishing can be especially common in times of uncertainty or change - such as throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you're feeling stuck in a state of languishing, here are some things you can try.
Seek out social connections
Human beings are social creatures, and strong social connections are crucial for our well-being. If you're feeling disconnected or isolated, try reaching out to friends and family or joining a group or club that aligns with your interests. Even small acts of connection, like sending a text or joining a virtual happy hour, can make a big difference in your mood.
Find ways to engage in meaningful activities
Languishing can often be the result of a lack of purpose or meaning in our lives. If you're feeling stuck, try finding activities that are personally meaningful or fulfilling to you. This could be anything from volunteering to taking up a new hobby or even just taking a daily walk in nature. Engaging in meaningful activities can help you feel more connected to your life and give you a sense of purpose. The key to finding meaning and living with purpose is to understand our values. You can download a free tool to understand your core values here.
Self-care is more important than ever when we're feeling low. Make sure to take care of your physical and emotional well-being by getting enough sleep, eating well, and finding time to relax and recharge. This could mean taking a warm bath, going for a hike, or simply curling up with a good book. Remember, it's okay to take a break and prioritise your own needs.
Seek professional help
If you're feeling stuck in a state of languishing and are unable to shake it, it may be helpful to seek the guidance of a positive psychology coach or mental health professional. A positive psychology practitioner, coach, therapist or counsellor can help you explore the root causes of your feelings and develop coping strategies to move forward. There's no shame in seeking help, and it can be a powerful tool for overcoming languishing and finding greater happiness and fulfilment. Whomever you are planning to engage, please be sure to check their qualifications and credentials.
It can be easy to focus on the negative when we're feeling down, but practising gratitude can help shift our perspective and boost our mood. Take a few minutes each day to think about the things you're grateful for, no matter how big or small. This could be something as simple as having a roof over your head or a warm meal to eat. Focusing on the good things in our lives can help us feel more positive and hopeful.
Take small steps towards your goals
If you're feeling stuck, it can be helpful to break down your goals into small, manageable steps. This can help you feel more in control and give you a sense of progress and accomplishment. Remember, progress doesn't have to be big or dramatic to be meaningful. Even small steps forward can help you feel more fulfilled and motivated to keep going.
Languishing can be a difficult and unsettling experience, but there are steps you can take to move forward and find greater happiness and fulfilment. Seek out social connections, engage in meaningful activities, practice self-care, seek professional help if needed, practice gratitude, and take small steps towards your goals. By taking these steps, you can begin to move out of a state of languishing, find greater well-being and purpose in your life and begin to flourish.