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languishing — the mood of the year

I  know for a fact that many of you feel quite “I would say mentally I’m not well; physically… also no, spiritually? No.

As long covid is not enough, the emotional toll of the long-haul of the pandemic is hitting us all strong.

But there’s one dominant feeling in all of us, the feeling of ‘meh’. It isn’t really burnout, it isn’t really depression. But it is somewhere in the middle. It’s called LANGUISHING — the mood of 2021/22.

Psychologists think about mental health as a curve or a spectrum: from depression to flourishing.

Flourishing is the peak of our well-being, and depression is the valley of ill-being.

And the void between thriving in life and feeling drowned is languishing — the neglected middle child of mental health.

While languishing, a person doesn’t have symptoms of mental illness but is not really the pitch-perfect mental health picture.

A languishing person is not functioning at full capacity. As psychologist Adam Grant puts it, “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.”

The term languishing was coined by sociologist Corey Keyes in 2010. His research published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that the people most likely to experience major depression and anxiety disorders in the next decade aren’t the ones with those symptoms now. No, but they are the ones that are languishing right now.

And new evidence from pandemic health care workers in Italy shows that those who were languishing in the spring of 2020 were three times more likely than their peers to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Psychologists find that one of the best strategies for managing emotions is to name them.

For example, “報復性熬夜” (meaning literally revenge bedtime procrastination in Chinese), is a phenomenon in which people who don’t have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late-night hours.

They literally cut back on their beauty sleep for doom scrolling driven by a lacking free time during the day.

So, when we add *languishing* to our dictionary, we’ll start to notice it more — in every dullness or lack of motivation. In every dry ‘meh’ and ‘blah’.

How can we fight it?

When binging The Office for the 37th time doesn’t work, you must again reconnect with lost focus and the sense of flow.

Flow is time and state when you completely lose yourself in a meaningful challenge or a conversation, where your sense of time, place, and self melts away.

Hit ‘Do not disturb’ mode more often. Turn off notifications or even leave your phone for at least one hour.

Exercise. Play wordle or any other game. Esports can very much help, too.

Go to karaoke. Go for a walk. Clean your (bath)room. Or, who am I to judge, do some shirt ironing. Whatever gets you in the flow.

Are you languishing?

What’s your antidote to it?

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