What Exactly Is Languishing? Feeling “Blah” in the Time of COVID
May 13, 2021
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Feeling stuck? Feeling off your game? Feeling… “meh”?

As the pandemic stretches into its second year, more and more business owners and workers alike are starting to feel, well, blah. It’s not the same as burnout, but you’re definitely not flourishing. You might feel as if you’re disoriented and disorganized — as if you’re looking at your life without your glasses on! At the bottom of it, you’re not on your A game… and neither are your employees. 

Much like feeling burned out, feeling this way is totally normal. You’re not alone — in fact, there’s even a name for that feeling! In the New York Times, psychologist Adam Grant names this sense of stagnation and emptiness: “languishing.” And he believes it’s the dominant emotion of 2021. 

It can be difficult to come to terms with the fact that you’re not on top of your game, especially when you feel like you have no excuse not to be. Languishing is closer to the negative end of the scale of mental health, but it’s not severe enough to be considered an illness. But if left unchecked, languishing can lead to anxiety, or depression. Are you languishing? And if you are, how can you pull yourself out?


What Is “Languishing”? And Are You Languishing?


Languishing is not the same as depression, and it’s not the same as burnout. Depression is a clinical disorder that makes it feel as if you have no interest in life. Burnout, on the other hand, is a state of emotional or physical exhaustion. And languishing is something different altogether. 

Think of languishing as the lack of feeling good about your life. You don’t feel great – but you don’t feel sad, either. You may feel…well, nothing. Here are some ways you can tell if you’re languishing: 

  • You feel a lack of meaning
  • You feel a lack of purpose or belonging in life, which may make your feel empty
  • You don’t feel strong emotions, and instead feel stagnated
  • Despite all of this, you still go through the motions of life

It can be difficult, both as a business owner and a person, to feel “meh.” You still feel as if you need to go through the steps in life to maintain your routine and lifestyle, but something just feels off. Plus, you may not feel as if you have time to languish, in between your personal life and your business life.


Tips For Combating That “Blah” Feeling

Just because you don’t have symptoms of typical illness doesn’t mean you’re happy or thriving. It’s perfectly normal to feel as if you’re languishing as the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into its second year. But if you feel that “blah” feeling, don’t worry – there are ways to combat languishing! These tips will help you:


languishing home improvement

Find Your Flow: Look for things that will engage you and immerse you. Try tackling home improvement tasks or kick start a personal creative project. Finding things that excite you can promote better mental health — and have a positive effect on your working life, too.


set goals

Set Goals: Setting goals for your personal and professional life is a great way to give yourself something to look forward to. When you have something to strive towards, you can boost your enthusiasm and your energy.



Determine Boundaries: Setting boundaries is a crucial way to take care of your mental health. If that means scheduling in your workout, or setting aside time for non-work-related activities, then that’s what you need to do!


languishing journal

Write Down Your Thoughts: Many people find it helpful to journal, or document their thoughts in some way. Writing down your thoughts can take a number of different forms: a traditional journal, gratitude lists, letters – you name it. The key part? Reflecting on gratitude and grace in your life. Plus, prioritizing a creative output can be a great way to break out of your daily life and provide some helpful perspective. 

As a business owner, it can sometimes feel as if you are constantly fighting to survive – both professionally and personally. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you take the time and address your mental health, no matter how small it may seem. 

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