Whether purchasing a car, graduating from college, or reaching a personal milestone that was set far before the Covid-19 pandemic began – people are commonly feeling what they describe as an indifference to what they once looked forward to. It isn’t quite that these things aren’t worth celebrating, but it is the deliberate loop of remaining uninspired and falling back into complacency that has left many guessing what will spark true joy in their lives again. Stuck in the loop of feeling languished may feel like you are existing in fixed space of being unable to fully reclaim your mental health after the toll of 2020.

What would have been most commonly explained as a dislike of feeling stagnant, has now been layered with the complexities of a global pandemic, racial violence and inequities, environmental catastrophes, and a bleak view for the future. Languishing has left our once engaging lives in predictable loops of grocery store visits, news updates, binging shows, and opening yet another package left at our front door. We are simply going through the motions.

What does it mean to feel languished?

Feeling languished is a burdensome, unchanging experience. The perpetual challenges of 2020 have left people weary of what there is to look forward to in 2021. The feeling of being stuck in an unpleasant place or situation is further underscored by the grief that accompanies the widespread suffering in the past year.

Do you feel yourself questioning what your new normal will be? The length to which society has adapted and tolerated the ongoing safety guidelines, restrictions, and overwhelming news reports- many reports claim what feels to be a delayed response to an ongoing cycle of distrust, worry, and exhaustion?

So, is then, our languishing a defense mechanism? Beneath the veneer of progress through vaccinations, is the possibility of widespread variants and continuation of mandates. Languishing can often feel like a state of doubt. A doubtful, uninspired, loop of going through the motions. What once felt like a small defeat from life’s normal circumstances, may have left you in a state of feeling non-committal to life itself.

Jumping Out of the Languishing Loop

Humans crave connection and require a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives. Staying safe for many has felt like staying on the sidelines of life. So, how does one restore a sense of hope and joy?

If you are a person who has said, “I’m not depressed” but simply cannot seem to break the pattern of sweatpants, takeout, and video chatting, you may be stuck languishing. Connecting with loved ones, sharing new experiences, and challenging yourself to try new things are important practices to incorporate with the support from mental health resources.
Whether it is traveling to new places, learning a new skill, or simply taking advantage of each opportunity as it appears, creating persistent motion in your life may help you jump out of the loop of feeling languished. Experts suggest doing things outside of what people may have predicted about your past self. Enjoy the experience and the excitement of surprising yourself.

The transition from surviving to thriving will inevitably restore a sense of self, improve your relationships, and create a new pattern for approaching your daily life. If the thrill of things seems shot, it is important to remember that you are not powerless. If you have received a vaccination, getting back out there will require some spontaneity. The loop of feeling languished can be broken with inspiration.