Languishing the bleh emotion

If you’ve been feeling a little ‘bleh’ lately, you’re not alone. The pandemic has brought with it countless challenges but this year many of us have moved away from the fear and anxiety of 2020 into a sense of just feeling… a little lost.

It makes sense really. The virus has served our present and our futures a healthy dose of unpredictability. Add in social isolation and distance from support and it’s hardly surprising we’re feeling the loss of control and a general sense of apathy towards everyday life. We are ‘languishing’.

What is languishing?


Languishing can be referred to as the opposite of flourishing. People who are languishing don’t meet the criteria for a mental health diagnosis, but that doesn’t mean the emotions associated with languishing aren’t valid.

If you’re feeling any of the following, you may be languishing:

  • Generally unmotivated
  • Mildly unsettled
  • Detached from activities
  • Disinterested in hobbies or socialising
  • Disconnected
  • Difficulty focusing
Mindfulness and languishing

Mindfulness and languishing

Mindfulness is an excellent way to deal with languishing as it gives your brain a break, helping you feel less stressed and more focussed. Mindfulness involves getting in touch with just what’s happening in the present moment. There are many ways you can practice mindfulness including using apps on your smart phone, mindful meditation, yoga or simply going for a walk in nature. You can include mindfulness in everyday activities, no matter how mundane. If you’re washing up for example, let other thoughts drift aside while you focus on the warmth of the water, the smell of the detergent and the texture of the bubbles.

What else will help me cope with languishing?

  • Be kind

An important thing you can do if you’re languishing is simply to be kind to yourself. Acknowledge that languishing is just a series of emotions that’s natural when we’re in these situations. It is a global pandemic after all, so we can be forgiven for not quite being ourselves.

  • Look after yourself

Some people find journaling, recording gratitudes or exploring creativity helps restore their focus. While exercising, eating and sleeping well do help (as they do with everything wellness), it’s also fine to just do what you feel. If that involves taking a few days off for a Netflix marathon, so be it.

  • Break things down

If you’ve got work or study you have to get on with, break down the activities into small, achievable tasks. Write them down as separate, clear goals with their own timeframe. Then, focus only on one at a time. This will stop you flitting between tasks and those feelings of overwhelm. Once you’ve completed each task, strike it off your list and give yourself a pat on the back. You may realise you haven’t been quite as unproductive as you thought.

What if I think it’s more than languishing?

Depression and languishing are similar but depression can be a serious mental health issue so it’s important to know the difference. Depression symptoms tend to run deeper, involving feelings of sadness rather than apathy, shifts in appetite and libido, feelings of worthlessness and helplessness. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek help from your GP or other health professional.

If you need someone to talk to, the ACAP Psychology Clinic offers a range of services at a low cost, find more information here.

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