Feeling stuck, lethargic and grey? Maybe you’re languishing

It was lovely to hear a discussion of “languishing” on breakfast TV this morning. Positive psychologist Corey Keyes uses this term to describe unwelcome feelings of being apathetic, listless and unmotivated.


While most of us are familiar with the term wellbeing, Keyes suggests that at any given time we may be somewhere between high wellbeing, which he called flourishing, and low mental health or languishing. Languishing is how many of us have been feeling at various points during the pandemic and it’s useful to know that it’s a recognised condition.

Languishing is not as extreme as full blown depression, but it’s not a pleasant experience and can get worse if we neglect it. Over time, languishing can erode our sense of purpose and enjoyment of life, leaving us in a grey cloud of “what’s the point?”

Useful tools for transforming languishing into flourishing start with recognising that this is how we feel, rather than trying to fight the feelings or bully ourselves into carrying on regardless. Being compassionate towards ourselves, showing ourselves the same kindness we would show a dear friend, can relieve some of the pressure and guilt we may feel about not being up to par.

Sharing how we feel with others is a good first step. Often we discover that they have been feeling much the same. Relationships are key to our wellbeing and it’s easy to let social distancing become emotional distancing. We need to prioritise connecting with others in whatever ways we can. Choosing to spend time with people who cheer us up is also common sense. We need lightness as an antidote to the heaviness we’ve been feeling.

Trying not to worry about the future or things that we have no control over is also important. Sometimes a break from social media or watching the news can help us see the world as a less scary place. Cultivating hope and faith in our ability to get through difficult times is an inner resource that can see us through periods of uncertainty.

Think back to a time when you successfully navigated a challenge, remember your strengths and try to draw on them more in your daily life. Affirmations can also help e.g. “I am safe. I am loved. I am protected. All my needs are met. All is well.”

Amidst the many forms of uncertainty that the pandemic has brought, realistically we can only do our best each day and then let it go. Keeping it in the day, being in the moment and other tools from mindfulness help us maintain boundaries about how much we can realistically cope with each day and encourage us to enjoy more of the simple pleasures of daily life.

During these times, self-care is important to keep us healthy and grounded. Think about what self-care means for you and try to add in more activities that nurture rather than deplete you.

Actively reminding ourselves of what we have to be grateful for has been shown to build positive emotions. It can also help us gain perspective and the energy to deal with what’s in front of us. Similarly, helping others in some way can give us a boost. We can also lift our mood by spending time in nature and finding ways to play and laugh. In fact, some of the best role models for enjoying life in the moment are children and animals.

Try making a daily gratitude list, or counting your blessings when you feel low. Take opportunities to be helpful or kind to others and notice how it makes you feel better. Remember what it felt like to go out to play as a child and see if you can find activities that give the grown up you the same kind of pleasure. Give yourself permission to switch off and go with the flow of your own playfulness and creativity.

So next time you’re feeling the slow creep of languishing, remember to give yourself a break and try some of these tools.

If you would like a personalised approach to improving your wellbeing, contact me for more information about life coaching using tools from positive psychology you can find me on Life Coach Directory.

Life Coach Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

Share this article with a friend
Show comments

Find a coach dealing with Wellness coaching

All coaches are verified professionals

All coaches are verified professionals

Related Articles

More articles