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Languishing -Overcoming the New Normal State of Mind

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There’s a new word to describe our feelings this year and it’s called “languishing.” 

Let me ask you, how do you feel right now? 

If you answered “fine” or you’re feeling “meh,” then you might be languishing.

What languishing is

After a period of collective grief since the start of the pandemic, we are like wilted plants.  We have eyes where tears have dried and our motivation has dulled. 

You’re not depressed.  You’re not feeling burned out, either. You just feel aimless, unexcited, joyless…

It can also be called a sense of stagnation or emptiness. It feels as if you’re just carrying on with your days, faking it until you make it. It’s like driving your car through a foggy windshield, but you still keep going.

We have been in the pandemic for a long time.  Yes, vaccines are available to some, but people are still struggling with the negative emotional effects.

Last year was intense.  It was filled with grief, sorrow, emotional turmoil, and stress.  Right now, this is the term for 2021.

This is what the pandemic has created:  a prolonged state of anguish. The term languishing was coined by Corey Keyes, a well-renowned sociologist.

According to experts languishing is the middle child of depression and flourishing. You’re not depressed and you’re not flourishing, either. 

In the early, very uncertain days of the pandemic, it’s likely that your brain’s threat detection was in a fight-or-flight state, even if you’re just getting supplies from your local groceries. We relied upon protection from our masks and alcohol wipes.

The global pandemic has dragged on and it has probably drained you of enthusiasm. You keep asking, when will this end? And to be honest, we still don’t have a concrete answer.

It’s an overwhelming feeling of emptiness muddying around in an aimless direction.  According to this study, the people who will eventually become depressed in the next ten years or so are not the ones experiencing symptoms today.

Languishing -Overcoming the New Normal State of Mind
Sajad Nori, Unsplash

What you need

We need:  normalcy, purpose, belonging, enthusiasm, zest, and contribution. When you languish, what you feel is actually a form of suffering.  According to the Keyes study:

More prevalent than major depressive disorder, it’s a single step before progressing towards a mental illness, one intervention away.

He describes languishing as feeling famished, not in terms of food, but psychologically and emotionally.  It is an inner void that is different from grief.


In the ancient early Christians, they called this “acedia” or comparable to “sloth.” Derived from the Greek word “akidia,” which means without care, apathy with regards to spirituality. This is what tempts monks to abandon their vocation.

It was viewed as a sin in ancient times but now it is just normal.  As we enter this new normal, we are aware that we kissed our old loves goodbye and that it will never be the same again. Even if this virus disappears, the memory, trauma, and fear have scarred us.

The loss of normalcy can be the same as losing someone in your life.  After processing this feeling, there can be a feeling of indifference, feeling like you know that things will get better, not the same, but better.  However, you can’t touch it or reach for it.

Languishing feels like you’re just existing and not living. 

Recovering and moving past languishing

It can be difficult but you can do it.  This too shall pass.

  • Recharge your appreciation for life because it has astonishing endowments that empower us to flourish.
  • Practice gratitude and enjoy your life. 
  • Focus on recovering the piece of yourself that was lost en route.
  • Pay attention not to engage in risky behaviors.
  • Search for activities that allow you to see the value of your reality and excellence in the world.
  • Seek out healthy hobbies that allow you to appreciate your existence and strength, as well as your beauty.
  • Find a sense of purpose and belonging. 
  • You have to think of ways to innovate and adapt.  Acceptance is the key to flourishing.
  • Set small achievable goals for the day or the week until you get into a routine.
  • Be open with other people about what you’re feeling because most probably they also feel the same and they need support just as you do.
Languishing -Overcoming the New Normal State of Mind
Mental Health of America, Pexels

Photo image above:  Alex Green, Pexels

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