Languishing – resulting in mental, emotional and relational challenges

Languishing – resulting in mental, emotional and relational challenges

Asha Raghavan

Counsellor & Practicing Psychotherapist


Last week I wrote an article about Savouring – A practice that helps in Emotional Wellbeing. I do hope you enjoyed reading it and found it useful.

Now, in this article, I dwell upon Languishing; the second in the series of three aspects – Savouring, Languishing and Flourishing, that are important to understand for better Emotional Wellbeing.

Looking back at 2021, I recollect feeling quite not alright. I wasn’t depressed, anxious or even sad. It just felt life was a….Blah!! I could not feel a sense of connection with my folks, didn’t want to read, crochet or garden.

Although I was quite certain that I wasn’t depressed, but I could not understand this lack of motivation; and this wilting, dwindling, empty feeling. I knew I had the energy, I just felt aimless. It wasn’t hopelessness, but emptiness.

Languishing – losing positivity towards life

I realized that I was experiencing ‘Languishing’-a concept propounded by psychologist Cory Keyes, that describes a state of being, which makes you lose positivity towards life; resulting in mental, emotional and relational challenges.

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It is described as a neutral state where you lack a sense of direction, stagnation and typically a sense of apathy.

The year 2021 had brought a sense of foreboding for humanity with the pandemic continuing to rage, with no end in sight. Life was just a drag from day to day. Social contacts, festivities, travel and even window-shopping was on the backburner. The thought of being confined to the four walls of the house for yet another indefinite period was taking its toll on our minds.

I am quite sure that most of you can relate to this feeling of a sort of plateauing of your emotional and mental state that you experienced then. In short it was as if life was continuing below optimal range!

Recognizing signs of languishing

The pandemic has thrown up so many challenges with declining mental health being one of the key issues. Depression has grasped more and it is therefore imperative that we learn to identify and distinguish between languishing and depression.

The typical signs include –

  • Feeling a sense of reluctance to do activities that you normally enjoy,
  • You visit friends but choose to leave midway because you don’t feel a sense of enjoyment.
  • Realizing that you are neither feeling happy nor sad. You. Don’t feel teary, yet you can’t name what you are feeling!
  • You don’t feel like making conversation with your family members- it seems to take too much effort
  • Experiencing an underlying sense of lack of motivation, a lethargy that spills into whatever you do.
  • You feel detached from life, more like a spectator watching your own life go by!
  • Losing interest even in your most passionate hobbies
  • Life seems to be stagnating and you feel helpless to take charge

Coping with languishing

Looking back at the last year I realized after conversations with friends that many of us had experienced similar feelings.Over long phone calls and Zoom meets we discussed what worked for us and here are some of those hacks which you may find useful.

One of the common threads that ran through most of our discussions was the need to be more mindful in combating these feelings. Coupled with self-care it seemed to work like magic!


Observing our patterns of behavior and writing it down allows for clarity about how we feel or react. The profound process of experiencing the feeling and expressing it in writing seems to work like a lifting of the fog that seems to have muddled our mind.

2.Exploring something creative

I know of many who have taken time out to try something new that they wanted to but never found the time for it. The internet has plenty of self-learning tutorials to help you get started. The options are plenty- baking, painting, clay work ….the list is endless

3.Maintaining relationships

Missing the social interaction, I made it a point every evening to call a friend or family member with whom I have not stayed frequently in touch and catch up. The feel good factor was mutual. Zoom meets proved to be a boon to connect in groups and pretty much celebrate occasions virtually! The sense of community surely boosted the happiness hormones.

4.Changing the environment

One can easily tire of the spaces that you occupy every day. Changing the layout of the room, a fresh coat of paint, your own artwork on the walls, anything that brings a new look feels refreshing.

5.Voluntary Work

When that feeling of low energy creeps in, involving yourself in helping others gives you a sense of purpose and usefulness. I am reminded of how a group of us committed to cooking simple meals for families during the pandemic. Teaching a craft, a subject you are proficient at or simply running errands for someone who’s incapacitated leaves you feeling happy and. contented.

6.Self care

Consciously eating nutritious food, building an exercise routine into your morning hours, a quick morning facial mask, some quiet downtime listening to meditative music- anything that enhances your physical and mental well-being and makes you prioritize yourself and your needs is curative in nature.

7.Celebrate the small things in life

At such times when nothing seems to go right, it’s easy to forget about the small things in life. Try listing everything you did today and you’ll be amazed at how much you have accomplished. Reward yourself for these little achievements. Buy yourself a bunch of flowers or gift yourself a new outfit!

To make that transition from languishing to thriving or flourishing, you need to cultivate and nurture areas that lead to greater life satisfaction.

Rather than just getting by in life, look to cultivating healthy relationships, staying present and engaged in what you are doing and experiencing; celebrating both the big and the small victories and experiencing more positive emotions.

Most of all find meaning in what you do. Your challenges are only a small chapter in your life. Make use of it as a learning experience and move on!

Asha Raghavan is on the Counsellors & Therapists panel at InfinumGrowth and available for online consultations.

Please do leave your comments at the bottom and do share with others if you like this article.

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[…] of three that Asha Raghavan has written. The first two can be read by clicking here Savouring, Languishing […]

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