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Covid-19 has been around for over a year now, and it has changed our very being. 2020, for most, was a write-off, but the year marks a life-changing moment in all our lives. As the year was coming to an end, we were most excited — for we were leaving it behind, and starting a fresh chapter in 2021. Hopes were high, yet our enthusiasm wasn’t at its peak. Do you know what we mean? We are sure you do, because most of us have been dealing with a certain sense of ‘blahness’ and stagnation, which has a term — languishing.
This isn’t the same as a burnout or a severe bout of depression, but a feeling that rests between the two. You carry on your days without any interest; it’s as if there is fog before your eyes. It is common knowledge that the novel coronavirus has not just taken a toll on our physical health, it has also affected us mentally. The uncertainty and fear that we’ve been dealing with, every single day, is hard to say the least.
In the initial days of the lockdown, our brain was forever in the ‘flight or fight’ mode, and even as we wore masks to protect ourselves from infection, we were dealing with the unknown. Little did we realise that our anguish turned to languish. For most people, mental health is supposed to be measured on a certain scale. Well, let’s remember it isn’t quantifiable, and also, it doesn’t mean that you should be on either end of the spectrum: flourishing or overly depressed. When you are languishing, it doesn’t mean you can’t function, but you can’t give it your all. There’s lack of motivation, low focus and so much more. It’s almost like you’re surviving, but not thriving.
What’s rather worrying is that on several occasions, you won’t even realise you’re languishing. That’s because you are indifferent to your indifference, and that means you can’t even seek help.
Yet, we suggest you read this piece to understand what languishing really means. This will enable you to help people around you.
We are going through an unprecedented health crisis, and no one expects you to be in top shape, but psychologists suggest that giving a name to your emotions drastically help. That’s because, especially when you experience unfamiliar circumstances, it makes you feel you are not alone. For instance, when we speak of grief, we know there are others who are or have gone through it, and it gives us a sense of solace.
In case of languishing, we are yet to understand more about this emotion, and its cure, but naming it helps a great deal. Again, that’s because you know you aren’t alone. There are several other such terms doing the rounds, including revenge bedtime procrastination, and when you read about them, you know this is exactly what you are going through. It gives you a certain level of control, and that probably is of essence, especially during a pandemic.
While we’re still figuring out how to deal with the emotion of languishing, flow could probably be its antidote. Do you remember in the initial days of 2020, people were more absorbed in different things and that’s how they avoided languishing? It could be anything that puts you in a state of flow: it could be reading a book, moving your body or even watching a late-night movie. The only challenge here, and probably the biggest one is, how do you focus when you are languishing? Well, it’s all about tackling the problem of fragmented attention, and it isn’t something new. It existed way before the pandemic began, and could even continue in the future. But, is there a solution?
You may wonder, what kind? Well, try to challenge yourself by doing certain tasks, minus any interruptions, for a few hours every day or every alternate day. This will ensure improved productivity and better performance at work. Yes, as humans, progress makes us happy. You don’t realise it when you’re in the middle of completing your task, but when you see it’s done, there’s a sense of achievement that gives you joy.
We are in the middle of a pandemic, and it’s okay if you are not in the best state today. Try again tomorrow by trying to fulfil certain small goals. It could be anything from winning a board game to cleaning a drawer. You could also challenge yourself to speak to one friend every day, and make it a point to do that. These little steps will help you rediscover the joys in life, and bring back your enthusiasm.
It’s not easy to deal with languishing, and we understand. Our society still treats mental health problems as stigma, and that’s where the problem lies. Things won’t change until we make concerted efforts to change our perception of mental health. Be more sensitive to other’s needs as well as your own, and guess what, it’s okay if you are blah, restless or feeling disinterested. We are all languishing in different ways.