Article

Priya Kumari
Priya Kumari 17 May 2021

A Guide to Mental Health Continuum for Marketers – Decrypting Languishing: A Dominant Emotion of 2021

Feeling a sense of emptiness and stagnation isn’t procrastination, there’s a proper terminology for the Meh that you feel. It’s call languishing and even if one is not truly depressed or burned out, languishing can be severely detrimental to your mental health. Feeling unmotivated, aimless, and crippled is one thing; however, languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you will cut back on work.

Recently, I was watching a webinar by Simon Sinek in which he said that it is not only important to watch your feelings, but also appropriately name how you’re feeling, even if it’s a negative feeling.

And it's not the first time I have heard this concept. Motivational speakers, psychologists, and top-notch leaders have always been talking about the documentation of feelings. Some advocate maintaining a daily or a weekly feeling journal while others stress on talking about it anyone you trust.

If feelings are positive show your ecstasy, even if they aren't embrace your vulnerability and fragility and give yourselves the permission to feel. It's good for our psychic health to feel before we decide whether to embrace those feelings or simply let them go after observing them for a while.

Journaling about emotions is also a common practice of several modern age spiritual teachers who love to go inside to seek resolutions of problems outside as our outer world is oftentimes a reflection of what’s going on in our heads.

It can do wonders for both your personal and professional lives if you can accurately analyze the state of mind you are in. And this is truer in the wake of Covid-19 than it has ever been.

It is common for most of us to feel unmotivated or aimless at times, all of us have those off days when we feel reluctant or simply that we are not enough. While there might be n number of reasons for feeling this way, most of us dismiss it off as procrastination. But is it procrastination always?

Feeling a sense of emptiness and stagnation isn’t procrastination, there’s a proper terminology for the Meh that you feel. It’s call languishing and even if one is not truly depressed or burned out, languishing can be severely detrimental to your mental health.

Feeling unmotivated, aimless, and crippled is one thing; however, languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you will cut back on work.

Hmm, that’s serious! I am not trying to scare you off, just trying to make you more aware so that the next time you feel so, you actually understand what’s going on in your head.

According to The New York Times, languishing feels like a sense of stagnation and emptiness:

“It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be a dominant emotion of 2021.”

Amidst the Covid-19 pandemonium, many people are struggling with the long-haul emotional emptiness imposed by the pandemic. It is also not surprising to feel this way as most of us were completely taken aback and left all in shambles as the intense fear, grief, and suffering of the pandemic is what we grappled with totally unprepared.

The anatomy of the brain reveals that we have a threat detection system called the amygdala which during the early days of the pandemic was on high alert to fight with whatever unprecedented threat was coming along. Later we discovered & developed daily protection regimes and routines such as wearing masks.

Irrespective of the sense of dread being eased to an extent, the prolonged period of the pandemic has paved the way for a chronic condition named languish. The dwindling of drive that characterizes languishing might often be mistaken as procrastination and this is where the danger peeps in.

When you are indifferent to your indifference, and you can't analyze your suffering, you slowly slip away into the abyss of solitude and may be left clueless about the stress disorder that they are faced with.

According to a study by sciencedirect.com, the health care workers in Italy who were languishing in the spring of 2020 were at 3x greater risk of being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorders as compared to their peers.

The term languishing was coined by a sociologist named Corey Keyes who was bewildered to realize that there were many people who weren’t depressed but also weren’t thriving.

These people were actually languishing and according to the research by Corey were most likely to experience depression in the next decade.

The spectrum of mental health for psychologists extends from depression to flourishing; while depression is the deathly-hallow of ill-being, flourishing is the peak of well-being. Flourishing gives you a strong purpose of being, mastering, and mattering to others while depression lefts you sulking and impoverished, feeling despondent, drained, and worthless.

An Antidote to Languishing: How to Deal With It?

So, what can one do about languishing? The answer lies in embracing your gleeful existential experiences by simply being engrossed in the moment or a concept termed as "flow". Flow is an elusive state of being absorbed in a momentary bond or a meaningful challenge where you bereft yourself of the sense of time, place, or self. Immersing oneself in meaningful projects can help avoid languishing.

So, here are the 3 antidotes to beat languishing:

  • Find and embrace a sense of purpose – it even beats mindfulness or optimism because not only you are just conceptually aware you’re actually nourishing your creative senses and the sense of self-worth
  • Set your boundaries and cultivate uninterrupted time
  • Focus on small but meaningful goals that drive you

Wrap Up

An article in Harvard Business Review termed the collective discomfort imposed by the pandemic as "grief". As the loss of normalcy gripped us over most of us faced psychological impacts, some more than others. People lost their loved ones and were squandered by the economic disruption.

During such difficult times it more important than ever to nurse our physiological and psychological resilience in the best ways we can, without ignoring and without giving up on ourselves. Amongst the best strategies to manage emotions is to identify and name them and the same holds true for languishing.

Stay aware, stay safe, stay true to your feelings – feel and know how you’re feeling.

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