What Is Languishing? How To Overcome The Dominant Emotion Of 2021

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Constantly demotivated? You might be experiencing “languishing,” the main emotion of the 2021 quarantine

Related: 5 Reasons Why It’s Time To Reconcile With Our Lost Hobbies

As another extended quarantine was announced this week, it poses yet again another mental danger­—the absence of our well-being. Feeling indifferent to your indifference? Most of us feel the same way. With emotions of intense fear and grief fading away as we remain in the same spot as we were before, we are now aimlessly living just for the sake of it. It isn’t called burnout because we still get up to go to work. It isn’t depression either, because despite the negative news we wake up to, we still choose to carry on.

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Psychologists are calling this dominant feeling as “languishing,” where one doesn’t exhibit symptoms of mental illness but one’s mental health isn’t thriving either. To put it simply in my understanding, languishing is similar to how you would reply to your S.O. after a fight with the phrase “I’m fine,” because in reality you aren’t—you’re just tired of the conversation. 

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“Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health,” says Adam Grant, University of Pennsylvania professor and TED Talk host. “It’s the void between depression and flourishing.” He also recites the study of sociologist Corey Keyes, who first coined the term and found that people most likely develop serious depression and anxiety disorders over the next decade due to languishing.

Languishing is very common nowadays and it’s a big risk factor for mental illness. To combat this, here are three positive habits to practice:

1. Time Batching

As someone who flourishes in productivity, I’ve been practicing time batching to stay focus and make progress on the goals I want to achieve. Time batching is essentially setting yourself up for success by putting on a timer when you do your hobbies or daily errands.

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It eliminates unnecessary distractions of social media or pings from emails that can cloud your ability to focus and hurt your efficiency, making your to-do list seem longer and harder to do. Set up a 30-minute timer if you’re trying to get back into reading a book or an hour for cleaning up your room; batching time allows a more concentrated workflow and attention to detail. Plus! it’s the ultimate way to physically check off many things on your list, we all know how great that feels.

2. Everyday Mantras

Surround yourself physically and visually with things that make you happy. For the morning, it’s an instant mood boost if you greet yourself with self-affirmations. While you’re doing your morning skincare or even just brushing your teeth, look at the mirror, recognize the negative emotions you have, and combat it by saying out loud the exact opposite.

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For example, before heading into work you feel like you’re not doing enough, go to the mirror and tell yourself “I am deserving, I am worthy and I am on my way to success.” The rest of the day is equally important, I practice this by attaching letters and photos from my friends and family right where I work to remind me that I am surrounded with love. Since I’m also constantly checking my phone, my lock screen also says “Chin Up, Babe” right in the middle of it. This forces your mind to take in the message and helps you manifest good energy into your life.

3. Grounding

Grounding is a therapeutic technique used to help PTSD patients and those struggling with negative or challenging emotions. Also known as “earthing,” it helps refocus on what’s happening in the present moment by connecting yourself with Mother Nature.

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The simplest form involves walking barefoot in the grass, dirt, or sand. Although, we’re in quarantine and not everyone has a garden or beach that is easily accessible, there are other forms such as breathing and listening exercises. I practice grounding by waking up early in the morning to step outside and breathe deeply in the open air. From the birds chirping to the wind blowing through trees, this allows me to listen and appreciate my surroundings. Making an effort to notice these little things, helps remind oneself that we are worthy of feeling hope.