It’s been a very insecure and rocky road since the beginning of 2020 and mental health issues have been a very natural fallout of the times we’ve been through.
But there are large number of Australians who believe they are coping. They are working productively (whether at home or at the workplace), looking after their families and loved ones, doing what activities are allowed dependent on the times and generally feeling like they are in control. They have energy and they aren’t depressed but they may not anticipate anything in the future like they used to do. Describe “languishing” to them and see the understanding dawn in their eyes.
The term languishing was coined in 2002 by American sociologist and psychologist Corey Keyes and it’s being talked about more and more as the pandemic rolls on.
Languishing is the oppositive of flourishing. Its symptoms include apathy, stagnation, feeling of monotony, foggy, unmotivated. Yes, you are living your life as normal, but there are no highs, no feeling of excitement and anticipation. You may find yourself less enthusiastic about leaving the house, catching up with friends.
Recognising that you may be languishing is an important step to addressing it. It’s also an important step to helping others around you who may be languishing, even if you are not.
There are a range of coping mechanisms:
Give yourself some uninterrupted time
Turn off your phone, get off the news channels. Allow yourself the space to live for a few hours without the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic worrying the back of your brain and taking you mentally on a continual roller coaster from high alert to major relief when the cases are zero.
Take time off when you can.
Call a mental health day and whether it’s personal leave or annual leave, give yourself a day off from having to be mentally and socially engaged for your work. Add a day’s leave to a public holiday and get a four day weekend – treat yourself to some R&R whenever you can swing it.
Do what you love
If you’ve got a hobby you really enjoy, make sure you are spending time doing it. If you love watching Netflix, do it. If you like hiking, strap on your boots and head out. Or, it might be a good time to look for a new interest and get absorbed in mastering it.
Try a change of scenery
It’s hard to plan a big change of scenery with any certainty at the moment. But we all have interesting and beautiful places within an hour’s drive. Even something simple like swapping your walk route, changing the park you take the dog to, even shopping somewhere different. Shake up your brain with a change to what it sees.
List everything that you are thankful for at least once a day. Make sure to list at least three thing – this can be something simple like being grateful for your physical health, the fact that you saw a friend. By reviewing your life daily, and looking for the gold in it, you are helping balance your outlook.
Look at therapy
While languishing isn’t depression, it is recognised as a lack of mental wellbeing. If you feel you need help, reach out.
At SALT we know that mental health is a spectrum. We might be delivering a presentation to a football club and ask them “Who in their lives is flourishing? Think things couldn’t be better?” We may only get two or three hands go up. When we delve into what makes these people assess they are flourishing it’s about loving their job, they are in a great relationship – these seem to be the top two. And these are the two areas of many people’s lives that have been put under significant stress by the pandemic.
It’s natural for us all to be mentally fatigued by the journey we’ve been on with this pandemic. Recognising that you may need to adopt some strategies to move your mental health from languishing to flourishing is a really positive first