Are You Languishing Too?

2021-06-09_151738The school year ended for my son last Wednesday. We have been looking forward to “the end” almost since the beginning. This pandemic year has been hard for everyone, and even though I’m still very much engaged in the daily grind, a tremendous weight has been lifted because at least my son can breathe a little easier and hopefully recuperate “enough” before August.

Some weeks ago, as I listened to Dr. Anita Phillips’ podcast, In the Light, she “hit a nerve.” As she introduced the episode “Beautiful Things,” I heard the word languishing and listened a little more closely:

It is a stealthy emotion […]. It sneaks up on you little by little […]. It is really easy to miss. The feeling of languishing is one of stagnation and emptiness […].

Phillips, a trauma therapist, also referenced a New York Times article, “There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing:”

Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. 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.

I backtracked and listened to that part over and over.

Languishing.

Is this why I have little interest in doing things I usually enjoy? Is this why it seems I’m working all.the.time but have little to show for it by the end of the day? Why I don’t feel like cooking or cleaning? Why sometimes my brain seems completely devoid of thought?

I know I am not depressed, but I feel out of sorts and disconnected from my usual rhythms.

Languishing.

The word perfectly describes the state I’m in and the state of others with whom I’ve spoken recently about their mental and emotional state during this phase of the pandemic.

We once flourished; now we’re doing our best if we can climb out of bed in the morning. Of course, there are ways to combat this state of being, but for me, it really comes down to the very thing expressed in a Washington Post title on the same subject.

“We all need a break.”

We need time to take care of our mental health and process what we’ve just gone through and what we’ve come through. We need time to grieve the losses and celebrate the gains. We also need time to look ahead and dream of the possibilities once we are truly post-pandemic.

Is that doable right now when we’re barely doing life?

The whole thing is “a lot,” as some say, so it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the “too much” of it. But we must pay attention and we must deal with our languishing because as the NYT article points out, languishing, in some ways, may be a bigger risk factor for mental illness. Furthermore, as Dr. Phillips emphasized in her podcast, “the mental health impact [of this moment] will far outlast our return to physical safety,” so we must take the time now to “honestly identify and name how [we] are feeling.”

I have many coping strategies [journalingcreatingshutting down technologylisting, sleeping, spending time with trees, and praying], but I am taking Dr. Phillips’ advice of identifying and naming, expressing my feelings, and spending time with those I love. Additionally, because confronting the mental and emotional chaos can be all-consuming, I am processing in small moments. The few minutes while doing the dishes. The walk from building to building while running errands on campus. The half hour or so spent grocery shopping. Whenever I can find even just a moment of quiet, I take the time to process, to exhale, and to heal.

I pray you’re doing the same.


Note: I am not a psychologist or therapist, so I encourage you to read the articles and listen to the podcast linked in this post for more information, tips, and tools for dealing with this mental health challenge–and of course, seek professional counsel should you feel your issues are much larger than you can handle without help.

About the Image: The image above features the artwork of illustrator and designer Eunji Jung. It was this bit of gorgeousness that “introduced” me to my new Love Notes pal, Kathi G. I admired the postcard after another Love Noter posted it in the group, and Kathi kindly sent one my way. Thanks, Kathi!

23 thoughts on “Are You Languishing Too?

  1. anaaab98 says:

    I have never heard the term languishing really explained but now that I have, I recognized that I have just exited a long period of languishing. I’m always so excited to be reminded about the shared experiences we have as humans and the words that coincide with these things and emotions.

    Like

  2. Ellen Hawley says:

    It’s an odd thing, but it seems to me that finding a word for something allows us to think about it in a way we couldn’t when it had no name. It takes on a shape–a beginning, an end, edges. And your graphic reminds me that taking tiny moments to see beauty is another way to get through–and with luck, out of–these stretches of time when thing have gone gray.

    Wishing you beauty.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Chandra Lynn says:

      Indeed, it helped me to have a name for what I’d been feeling. Then, I could begin working toward getting better instead of slipping to another place. And, yes, searching for beauty and joy each day…definitely helps us get through.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sheila Marie Delgado says:

    Thank you for this post, Chandra. For identifying and clarifying. That word has been on my mind for a couple of weeks. And that is exactly how I am feeling. Have been feeling for, well it seems for months now. I felt a sigh of relief and a strong comfort in knowing that I am not alone.
    Sending hugs and gratitude your way, and as always… I wish you JOY. ;o)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Chandra Lynn says:

      You are not alone. I’ve spoken with soooo many people who feel the same way. Now that we know what the feeling is we have to make sure we deal with it and not let ourselves slip into a worse mental health situation. Joy to you too, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. jesusluvsall says:

    The pandemic year took an emotional toll on us all. Being inundated with it can drag a person down.

    I have been through so many difficulties in life but keeping my focus on Jesus has helped me through it all.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Vinitha says:

    Oh dear! I have been going through a neither there nor here phase for sometime now. That feeling of working all day and nothing to show at the end of the day is me. I need a break from everything! I’m so grateful you shared this. Chandra. Bookmarking this to read again when I feel the need.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. pinknabi says:

    You’ve chosen the perfect word. It sounds like luxury but in actuality it’s a mental burden. I love the image you’ve chosen for this post. It reminds me of the Greek myth of Sisyphus and the rock. The flower suggests a lighter burden than his was, plus eternal beauty instead of toil, if we put our trust and faith in the One who can remove us from this liminal space created by the pandemic we are all experiencing in real and difficult ways. God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chandra Lynn says:

      Thanks. It is a different perspective–one I’m glad I heard. I was really like, “What is going on with me?!” It’s nice to put a name to it and have a way to move out of it…

      Like

  7. revruss1220 says:

    Boom! That is IT! Languishing is a perfect word for the moment my spirit is experiencing. To me, it feels a little like warm quicksand. In our languishing, we know we are being pulled downward, but it feels kind of warm and comforting so we aren’t inclined to resist its pull until it is too late. Thank you for this tool and blessings to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chandra Lynn says:

      Yes! You describe it perfectly. I was trying to explain its sneaky comforting quality to friend earlier today. You do a better job. I’ll just direct her to your comment. Thank YOU and blessings to you and yours as well!

      Like

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