Are you languishing? It seems that languishing is an actual psychological term. It was coined by a sociologist, Corey Keys, to describe a state of chronic low energy, unhappiness, and a state of ennui that doesn’t quite meet the definition of clinical depression. It is considered a significant mental health problem. People who are languishing lack happiness in their lives. Aside from feeling unhappy for undefined reasons and ruining your productivity, languishing can become clinical depression if you allow it to become your default state for long enough.

Languishing was the dominant mental health problem throughout the COVID crisis and remains so today.

Individuals with a history of depression and anxiety or who are genetically predisposed to psychiatric conditions are more prone to languishing than others. — Leela Magavi, MD

Picasso – Jamie Sabartes
Featured at top: Van Gogh – Sorrows of an Old Man.

Languishing is very much like depression. It colors your view of the world. Nothing sounds interesting or fun. Unlike depression, it is something you can shake off. What do we do about it?

Shake up the snow globe of your life. A change of pace, a change of scenery, a change of activity. Preferably something that gets your blood pumping. Preferably something that fills your brain with complex perceptions that you are not used to. Something completely different from what you are doing now.

You may feel like nothing is any fun or at all interesting so you don’t bother. And that is why languishing is a self-perpetuating condition.

Breaking out of languishing takes an affirmative effort. There’s no checklist to go thru where at the end of the day you feel great. You literally may have to force feed novelty into your life for as long as it takes. Rousing oneself out of a stupor does not come easily. I am an expert on this. If I allow it, I can lock myself in front of a computer screen all day and at the end of it all feel absolutely nothing. Intellectual and emotional numbness are also signs of languishing.

Ultimately, unlike clinical depression, it is a choice. We have a lot more control over our emotions than we think we do. But people are lazy and languishing makes us even lazier. It takes very little energy to stay exactly what we are. But, to butcher some Shakespear, I prefer to “take up arms against a sea of troubles” in a manner that leads in the opposite direction from what Hamlet was thinking. My nudie hikes and my yard work and my photography pull me away from my depression. I can think of them as weapons in my battle. Spending too much time in front of screens and keyboards exacerbates the problem.

Here’s a really good article I found on dealing with languishing. I am confident that these ideas would do tremendous good as part of a larger plan to treat more serious depression.

Stuck in a Rut? Sometimes Joy Takes a Little Practice.