That Mental Rut You are Going Through: Can you describe your life as directionless or stagnant? You are not alone. This feeling of emptiness is difficult to articulate. Languishing is not sadness — it is a dulling of all emotions and a lack of joy.
This term is relatively new, but the feeling is shared by millions of Americans. Its effects contribute to the popularity of Delta 8 for sleep and concentration. According to a 2021 mental health survey, around a fifth of the population reported languishing. This state is most common for millennials. How does languishing manifest itself, and how is it different from depression?
This term was coined by Corey Keyes, Ph.D., an American psychologist, and sociologist. He used it to describe mental well-being. In his analysis, he focused on the notion that the absence of mental illness does not automatically signify mental health. He used a spectrum between “flourishing” (i.e., mentally healthy) and “languishing” (absence of mental health).
According to Keyes’ findings published in 2002, the risk of depressive episodes for those who are languishing is 100% higher compared to people who are moderately mentally healthy. The difference rises to 600% in comparison with flourishing individuals.
Languishing is different from depression. Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of Joy From Fear, describes it as “a more temporary response to unremitting stress, disempowering experiences, and frustration.” While Delta 8 for energy does not treat clinical depression, it could be effective against languishing.
Languishing vs. Flourishing
According to Keyes’ continuum model, flourishing is indicated by positive feelings and functioning. Languishing is the antithesis — lack of positive feelings and functioning in life. It is joyless. Languishing is defined by symptoms like:
- Lack of motivation;
- Problems with concentration;
- Low energy;
- Low appetite or overeating;
- Sleep disorders (insomnia, interrupted sleep, or hypersomnia);
- Reduced or no interest in social interaction;
- Lack of purpose;
- Indifference to normally pleasurable activities;
- Feeling “blue”.
Languishing vs Depression
If you envision your mental health spectrum has a thermometer, languishing is at 0°. It is a neutral position — neither positive nor negative. Depression, on the other hand, is below zero. It is included in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
Languishing does not include feelings of hopelessness or sadness. It is merely a feeling of nothing. Only some people experiencing languishing may develop clinical depression.
Why Languishing Is Common in 2022
The coronavirus pandemic has brought social isolation, fear, and grief. This combination has brought languishing into the spotlight. The past two years have been an emotional rollercoaster, and the effects are still lingering.
Additionally, languishing may stem from constant stressors leading to mental burnout and exhaustion. Those who experience it are not lazy or abnormal. They are merely showing natural responses to disempowering situations.
Suggested Coping Strategies
You cannot overcome languishing in one day. This is a journey. Take small actionable steps daily:
- Prioritize tasks
Identify your most important tasks and focus on completing two or three of them every day. For example, even a simple action like a 15-minute stroll to get some physical exercise will be beneficial. Whether you decide to draft and you resume or tackle house cleaning room by room, take action.
- Reward yourself
Give yourself an incentive to complete the tasks. For example, you could reward yourself with half an hour of your favorite TV series in exchange for half an hour of cleaning or focused work. This will activate the reward system in your brain, which supports the positive mindset.
- Reach out for positive help
Do not hide your challenges. Everyone needs support when the going gets tough. Contact a mental health provider or find a support group.
- Identify and incorporate joy into your life
Think about things, people, and experiences that bring you Joy. Make a mental effort to identify them and then try to incorporate them into your life on a regular basis. Seek joy, write down what brings it, and include it in your routine.
- Connect with people you love and trust
In a state of languishing, connecting to other people (even those close to you) is hard. However, social interaction is key to emotional comfort and feeling at ease, so you need to get out of your shell.
Go out for a movie, a cup of coffee, or even a baking project. Enjoy little things in life with other people. Friendship and laughter are powerful antidotes to languishing.
- Acknowledge and validate your experience
Be kind to yourself. Every person is fighting their own inner battle, so do not blame yourself. Do not expect to just magically switch from languishing to flourishing. The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on all of us — physical, mental, and spiritual. Acknowledge how you feel — awareness is the first step towards positive changes.
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