We’ve found the word to describe how we feel. So how do we stop languishing and start flourishing?

“The actual meaning of meh”, this is what a friend wrote as she dropped a link to an Instagram post from The New York Times into our WhatsApp chat. The Instagram post in question was about the word ‘languishing’, promoting their article, There’s a name for the blah you’re feeling: It’s called languishing.

In the article we learn that mental health is seen on a spectrum in the psychology world, ranging from depression to flourishing. Described as ‘the neglected middle child of mental health’, the term languishing is used when we don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but we’re also not as mentally healthy as we could be.

It’s when we feel empty, stagnant, like we have no aim in life and struggle to feel joy. If we could use just one word to describe the pandemic experience, this would be it.

Many of us have moved through the initial anxiety, panic and fear we felt when we were first thrust into lockdown. The vaccine has given us hope that the end is in sight and, as the UK starts to lift restrictions, you can already see life force flowing back to many of us.

We can’t neglect the mental toll of what we’ve been through, though. Making plans still feels precarious; some of us are wary of going back to ‘normal’ and, overall, we’re just really, really tired.

This lack of energy can tip into this state of languishing and we may not even notice just how much our drive has dried up. We retreat to the safety of solitude, fall back on habits that have gotten us through and struggle to realise we need to take action to pull ourselves up.

Putting a name to how we feel and shining awareness on it is the first step. The next step is to make a plan of action to help bring you closer to flourishing.

How to move from languishing to flourishing

The New York Times article outlined some helpful tools to do just this and we have rounded up some helpful resources to help you on your way.

Find your flow

When we’re in flow, we feel absorbed in a meaningful challenge. Time slips away and we feel utterly present. This concept, outlined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, is described as being a possible antidote to languishing. So, how can we find our flow?

Resources to help:

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Support your focus

The reason some of us have struggled to find our flow during the pandemic is because flow requires focus, something that’s felt elusive. Finding ways to support your focus will help you feel more motivated and will help you settle into flow more easily.

Resources to help:

Start small

Celebrating small wins has never been more important, and it could be just the boost we need to stop languishing. Start setting small challenges that will help you feel accomplished.

Resources to help:

Organisational psychologist and writer Adam Grant ends his article on languishing with a poignant reminder that we’d like to echo.

“As we head into a new post-pandemic reality, it’s time to rethink our understanding of mental health and wellbeing. “Not depressed” doesn’t mean you’re not struggling. “Not burned out” doesn’t mean you’re fired up. By acknowledging that so many of us are languishing, we can start giving voice to quiet despair and lighting a path out of the void.”

Here’s to more of us walking out of the void.


If you’re feeling stuck and unsure which direction you want to take in life, you may find it helpful to work with a life coach. Using conversational and questioning techniques, a coach can help you gain clarity and create an action plan to make changes.

Providing guidance and accountability along the way, it could be the support you need to truly flourish. Find a coach today on Life Coach Directory.