Feeling a bit lacklustre as the days roll by? Hitting the snooze button more than usual? It’s a feeling that can be difficult to put your finger on, but it has a name, languishing.
Whether it’s feeling exhausted and unmotivated, or restless and eager to do more, we can be off kilter from time to time. It’s no surprise that many are feeling this way, as we continue to deal with ongoing uncertainty and snap lockdowns due to the pandemic. Knowing this is normal is important, particularly in the current circumstances, but we can also make changes to improve our overall wellbeing.
Flourishing vs languishing
Often, we think of good mental health as the absence of mental health issues, but as the diagram below shows, there is a spectrum between high mental health and low mental health.
While flourishing sits at the top, languishing is at the bottom.
Source: Dual continua model ( Keyes & Lopez , 2002)
You’re kicking goals at work, your relationships with family and friends are harmonious, you’re growing as a person – these are examples of flourishing. On the flipside, languishing can see you struggling to get out of bed in the morning, disengaged from your work, feeling negative about your relationships, or frustrated at not getting to where you want to be.
Called “the dominant emotion of 2021”, languishing has been described as if “you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield.”i
Moving towards flourishing
The pandemic has reminded us of how little control we have over external circumstances. While lockdowns are likely to remain in our near future and the way we work and socialise are impacted as a result, there are ways we can improve our outlook.
Take time out
Working from home and remote schooling has become a reality for many of us, meaning we are busier than ever. Scheduling in some time-out is crucial to being able to switch off and feel more refreshed. Even if it’s just a day spent not checking your email and doing something restorative, you’re prioritising self-care.
When you’re languishing, it can be difficult to get motivated, it’s not likely to be the time you embark on a new fitness regime, study or career move. However, starting small can make changes in your life while building motivation for you to make further changes.
Whether it is going for a morning walk each day, reading a book the whole way through or getting to one of those tasks on your to-do list, you’re taking a step towards flourishing.
Cut out the noise
Back-to-back Zoom calls, the 24/7 news cycle, pings of social media, the distraction of everyone being at home together – no wonder it’s hard to focus.
Tap into your ‘zone’ or flow, by switching off from external noise where possible to concentrate on one task at a time. When you’re in the state of flow, time flies by as you’re engrossed in an activity that takes your full attention.
Reach out for help
It’s also worth acknowledging when you need a helping hand. It may be delegating at work so you’re not feeling overloaded or having someone to talk to if you’re struggling through the day.
Mental health issues are on the rise due to the pandemic and there is no shame in asking for help – more than ever, Australians are reaching out for mental health support in these turbulent times to help stay on track.ii