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Do you feel like your friends are flourishing and you're not? They're in supportive relationships, happy, motivated, thriving, doing what they love, and facing life with hope and resilience!

You feel like you're in a rut. You've lost your joy and direction in life. You feel aimless and unmotivated.

"What's happening to me?" you ask yourself.

You could be languishing.

Understanding what languishing is can help you identify the causes, signs, and steps you can take to improve your mental well-being.

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What is languishing?

People who are languishing experience a decline in emotional, social, and psychological well-being.

Although they can work and manage their day-to-day responsibilities, they feel unfulfilled and unhappy about their lives.

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If you're languishing, you'e not depressed — you're somewhere between good mental health and depression.

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It's easy to mistake languishing for depression or burnout.

Depression is a severe mental illness that causes regular sadness and affects your ability to function in everyday life. Burnout is work-related stress caused by poor work-life balance.

Some causes of languishing

Unmet basic needs

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people were isolated from loved ones and lost their jobs and homes.

For some people, basic human needs for food, shelter, safety, and companionship were unmet. These situations negatively affected their mental well-being.

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Stressful lifestyle

Overwhelming and stressful situations can also cause languishing.

If you find yourself in a stressful work environment where you're constantly juggling multiple tasks without recognition for your efforts and no work-life balance, you may feel like there's no hope for a rewarding career.

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Being alone

We need relationships. As human beings, we have an internal desire to connect with others and build friendships.

Feeling connected to others improves our emotional and mental well-being. Long periods of isolation can cause languishing.

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Conflicting values and goals

Sometimes, conflicting personal goals and values can cause languishing.

For example, if you value honesty and you want to leave a work environment where leaders are dishonest, you could find yourself languishing if you're unable to find a better job or you can't resign because you need the income. An illustration depicting a woman holding face masks that represent both happiness and sadness. Image by Vectorjuice on Freepik

How to move from languishing to flourishing

If you're experiencing languishing, here are some steps you can take to gradually restore your mental well-being and feel better about yourself.

Consistent exercise routine

Physical activity can improve mentalhealth. Think about activities and experiences you enjoy and set aside time to start participating in them again. For example, join a bowling club or a running group.

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Value your relationships

Spend time with your family and friends. Their love, support, and encouragement can bring you joy and the motivation you need to focus on your dreams and goals during tough times.

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Practice mindfulness and self-care

Be gentle with yourself. Acknowledge your feelings and thoughts, but don't judge yourself. Don't compare yourself with coworkers or friends. Find ways to reduce stress and rejuvenate your mind and body.

Get professional help and coaching

A coach or mental health professional can help you set a series of small goals that increase your motivation to achieve them. They can also help you focus on your strengths and identify activities that you find meaningful and enjoyable.

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Susan is languishing. Her friends are being promoted, but she has been in the same job for over five years despite her efforts to get a promotion. What should Susan do to improve her mental health? Select all that apply:

Take Action

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Languishing is not a permanent mental state. You have the power to change it! Start your journey to better mental health by taking the following steps to start flourishing again:


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