LANGUISHING is all the buzz these day. It is that place between being unwell, and full wellbeing. It is away from suffering or depression, but it is also not flourishing.
That gray area, where you can’t say that something is super wrong, but that doesn’t feel super right either. It is marked by having trouble concentrating, lack of excitement, difficulty to motivate ourselves…
“Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.”, says one of the best articles on languishing out there.
So how about we all together do something about it?
Here are five practical tips to shift away from languishing into more wellbeing – how about doing on of these each day this week? Even if you don’t feel like you are languishing, they will be great for your wellbeing.
Notice: also just acknowledging it and allowing that might be how you feel right now is perfectly ok.
Tips will be there for you in case you wish to act on it.
Tip 1: Stay with it
Tomorrow, I will continue with practical tips to deal with languishing – the state of everyday routine that lies somewhere in vacuum between suffering & wellbeing.
I will pack this week with action-oriented ideas and tips – but today, I invite you to just STOP for a moment.
Stop, breath, observe & acknowledge how you feel right now.
Give your feelings a bit of attention & space.
They are here for a reason – notice what they are trying to tell you, what valuable message about your values & goals, your needs, your frustrations & fears, about what is important for you.
These days, languishing might be one of these feelings. But there is probably much more. Perhaps some grief beneath it for all the things that are “on hold” lately, or some anger for not being as free as we would like; also some hope that this will be one great year after all, perhaps curiosity about what we are learning.
Feelings rarely come alone & unpleasant ones are often mixed with pleasant ones. To be alive is to feel all of them – and to allow ourselves to feel them, to stay with them, to express them (preferably in a healthy way – perhaps through journal, conversation, sports…).
They become trouble when we try to avoid them, hide from them, deny them.
Instead, look your feelings in the eye. Ask them why are they are here & what is their message.
And then consciously & intentionally choose how do you wish to act on that message.
First step in the face of any uncomfortable feeling is to take a good care of yourself – get enough sleep, jump into exercise, provide space and time for nature and socializing.
Tip 2: Talk it out with a friend
Us humans are wired for connection. From mirror neurons in our brain, through our biological drives to the way we communicate, we are built to connect with others. Our sense of belonging, safety, identity and often purpose is highly related to beings around us.
Today, honor that connection by sharing a close, mindful conversation with someone with whom you feel relaxed and accepted.
Share with them how you feel these days – being it good, bad or somewhere in-between. Also share how it is that you would like to feel, and what are your thoughts and ideas on how to get there.
C’mon. Don’t postpone it. Let them know right now that you would like to talk soon and make a plan when will you talk.
Tip 3: Mindfulness and savouring
Today, activate your mindfulness and savouring muscle.
To be mindful, practice focus! It simply means to give you full attention to things that you are doing or experiencing.
Eat with mindfulness, talk & listen with mindfulness, feel your body, drop multitasking, take a moment to read a poem or a book without multitasking or mind-wandering.
Every now and then, check in with your breathing – take a deep breath, and exhale slowly. While breathing in, imagine that you are refilling your lungs with joy. When breathing out, imagine how with the air all the tension or negativity from your day is leaving you.
Repeat is 5-6 times, feel how it feels to truly breathe, and savour being alive. Now, add a sense of pleasure and enjoyment to your day through savouring.
Savouring is when you slow down, being mindful, and also focus on enjoyment in that moment. You can savour a good food, a wonderful memory, an insightful conversation. You can savour sense of movement when you engage your body, sense of water on your skin, or a beautiful view.
It is simply about noticing how good it feels – and about appreciating the fact we got to experience this moment.
What will you savour today?
Tip 4: Joyspotting
Today, how about strengthening sense of joy in your life by engaging in Joyspotting?
Joyspotting is all about noticing the little sparks of joy that happen throughout the day.
Notice what made you smile, tune into the beauty of nature and sky above you, intentionally look for those little things around you that are hiding potential for joy.
Scan for excitment, even a tiny bit of it, and enlarge it by giving it your full attention and a moment of your time.
Turn on your inner joy-explorer, joy-hunter, joy-nerdy-scientist, joy-detective.
For successful Joyspotting, engage curiosity and re-connect with mindfulness and savouring (check yesterday’s post).
Ask yourself “What can I be grateful for?” and “What can I appreciate in this day?”
What little joys have you spotted today so far?
Tip 5: Create more flow
Flow is the antidote to languishing.
Flow is the state of deep immersion & engagement in activity, feeling “in the zone”, that happens when we are doing something challenging yet worthwhile.
It creates sense of meaning & joy.
To build more flow:
1. Set clear goals: challenging, motivating & meaningful for you
2. Ensure feedback: find a way of tracking your progress towards the goal
3. Strengthen your focus
Need ideas for goals?
Ask: What would I like to create? What do I want to learn? Who can I support; to which cause would I like to contribute?
Every evening write what went well that day, what did you achieve. Appreciate small steps & victories.
Need more focus?
Practice “pomodoro” technique, or challenge yourself with daily meditation.
Goals need to be challenging to get in flow – but at the moments when we feel demotivated or languishing, the key is to focus on small goals & small wins.
It can still be challenging, but it will be more manageable if you split it in small steps, & plan for short-term milestones.
Which of these tips would most benefit you if you started implementing them already today? Set intention right now to start doing that one already today – before the idea and motivation fades away.