That ‘blah’ feeling you’re experiencing right now – not quite sad, not quite happy? It’s called ‘languishing’, and the definition is so spot on

You know the feeling. Instead of springing out of bed in the morning and feeling ready for the day ahead, you pull the duvet over your head and snooze your alarm. Instead of feeling excited at the thought of Aperols in the beer garden with your ‘rule of six’ mates this weekend, you just feel a bit apathetic. You don’t feel knackered to the point of burnout, and you don’t feel down to the point of depression. You don’t feel joyless, but you don’t feel particularly joyful either.

You just feel a bit, well, ‘blurgh’. We know exactly how you feel, because we feel it, too. And we bet a majority of people at the moment – after the chaos, grief and stress of the pandemic and a year of successive lockdowns – are also experiencing this strange, almost detached emotion.

Now, an article in the New York Times has explained the psychology behind that feeling, and it perfectly encapsulates this pandemic-fuelled mental health phenomenon.

“Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health,” writes US psychologist Adam Grant, author of bestsellers including Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know.

“It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work. It appears to be more common than major depression — and in some ways it may be a bigger risk factor for mental illness.”

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Grant goes on to explain that the term ‘languishing’ was coined sociologist Corey Keyes after investigating this peculiar feeling of stagnancy and monotony. His research suggests those who experience major depression and anxiety disorders in the future aren’t necessarily those who are displaying symptoms now; but those of us who are currently languishing. The idea being that if you’re languishing, you may not realise if your mental health begins to worsen.

So, what can we do if we’re worried we might be languishing? Grant suggests daily mindfulness-based practises such as carving out time to totally immerse yourself in an activity – known as ‘flow’ – such as making time to read before work, or an evening Netflix session. Other remedies include avoiding frequent task-switching (anxiously checking your emails every few minutes, for example) and focusing on small, achievable goals one by one, rather than one big daunting to-do list.

GLAMOUR also have advice on how to protect your mental health during the pandemic, how to avoid burnout while working from home, how to rewire your brain to be more positive post-lockdown, and how to cope if the return to normality is making you anxious.

If you’re concerned about the effect of the pandemic on your mental health, speak to your GP and/ or visit mind.org.uk for support and advice. And remember, if you’re languishing right now, you are not alone.

Lifestyle

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