‘Languishing’: Exploring Feeling Blah During The Pandemic

‘Languishing,’ the trendy COVID-19 buzzword, is a mixture of feeling sluggish and somewhat adrift. Can we call it the dominant feeling of 2021?

Every day we cheer to get — at least — slightly closer to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, and at the beginning of the year, we thought that in 2021 would be gone. But unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be the case. 

We’re experiencing a phenomenon called ‘languishing,’ pointed by psychologist Adam Grant argued in a recent article for The New York Times. 

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

“Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. 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.”

Adam Grant

The feeling of uncertainty we’ve been experiencing since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 has knocked us all out and leaving many of us adrift, apathetic, and, as Grant said, ‘not functioning at full capacity.’

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

I’m a wanderlust girl, and I ditched my regular 9-5 job to travel the world in 2018. Travelling is in my DNA, and both of my parents are also addicted to exploring new places. Now, I’m back in my hometown wondering when I’ll be able to get back to my wanderer life again.

I love traveling more than anything — I’m constantly planning a trip, and when I’m traveling, I’m thinking about the next one. Most of the people I know (and maybe you too) are feeling stuck. We’re physically healthy and somehow mentally stable, but there’s something wrong inside. I don’t know what it is, I just feel it — it’s an unknowingness.

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Hearing the term ‘languishing’ makes me resonate on some level, and at least I know I’m not alone. But taking responsibility and creating awareness around a problem is the first step to move out of it. We don’t know when we’re getting back to life as it was, so we might as well try and get out of the languishing rut.

And to be honest, it’s okay to feel languished sometimes. Life is made of different phases — we have ups and downs, moments of happiness, and moments of despair. It all boils down to how you face them.

Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash

In the article, Grant offers some suggestions to do so — the first thing is to become aware of the feeling.

“Instead of saying ‘Great!’ or ‘Fine,’ imagine if we answered, ‘Honestly, I’m languishing.”

Adam Grant

Grant says that the second step is to find excitement again. One can do it by discovering a new hobby or practicing an old one, or any activity that brings pleasure and can be done without interruptions.

Another tip he shared was to make goals smaller:

“Sometimes it’s a small step toward rediscovering some of the energy and enthusiasm that you’ve missed during all these months”

Adam Grant

Written By:
Camila Santiago

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