Languishing – Have you been feeling the mood of a post pandemic world?

What is Languishing?

Languishing is a term coined by sociologist Corey Keyes as experiencing feelings of diminished positive emotions and being in a state of stagnation and emptiness, as though you are muddling through your days. 

Although feelings of aimlessness and joylessness are present it is not to be confused with depression.

Although this new collective feeling might be something of a phenomenon for people, it is not as alarming given the tumultuous year that we have experienced.

Feeling ‘Languished’ was best described by psychologist Adam Grant in a New York Times op-ed article, as, “It wasn’t burnout—we still had energy. It wasn’t depression—we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless.”

The aftermath of a worldwide pandemic

The aftermath symptoms of Covid-19 are new to scientists and physicians alike, as many are continuing to struggle with the emotional long-haul of the pandemic.

Although, it is unsurprising as none of us were prepared for a year filled with so much fear and grief, much like an earthquake, sometimes it is the aftershocks that are more impactful as we move to process the aftermath of a traumatic event.

‘Feeling unmotivated and unfocused’

Have you felt unmotivated and unfocused in recent months? If so, you are not alone.

Sociologist Corey Keyes described the feeling as a void of not being able to feel good about your life. Keyes first described the state as experiencing diminished positive emotions, such as satisfaction with life, a sense of purpose, positive relationships, and interactions with society. This adversely affects our overall well-being and is characterized by feelings of emptiness and stagnation.

It is the stark opposite of where we strive to be, which is flourishing. Languishing not only prevents you from living your best life, but it may also be a risk factor for the development of future mental illnesses, such as depression and grief.

Languishing vs flourishing – how to get excited about life again

Many psychologists suggest that when we are in periods of extreme distress we shut down and ignore all our feelings, in doing so we also temporarily shut off the good ones too, but our brains do this as it feels like the safest thing to do on first instinct.

Therefore, it may not come as a shock that in periods of grief many describe what they are feeling as emotionally numb.

Below are some tips that can help.

Manage your emotions by naming them – By naming our feelings, we are then better able to recognize them, determine their cause, and strategize ways to overcome them. A lot of times the decreased motivation and emptiness of languishing develops insidiously, and we may not recognize it in ourselves.

Try to be in Flow with what you do – According to Grant, a cure for languishing is being in the flow state. 

When we are in flow, we become so engrossed in an activity that we lose track of time and of ourselves. We can enter the flow state by being absorbed in a meaningful activity such as reading a book, gardening, or a daily workout. Constant distractions and interruptions are impediments to achieving flow. Setting boundaries and creating a block of uninterrupted time is key to improving our focus, which can help us enter flow, leading to increased energy and enthusiasm.

Celebrate the small stuff: Accomplishing tiny goals helps provide a sense of purpose and progress that leads to momentum, increased engagement, and motivation. Spend some time each day on a meaningful challenge or activity and soon you may be flourishing.

Talk to others: A year of decreased socialising with friends, family and colleagues is also not great for our mental wellbeing, it is important to be around others even just for a short friendly chatter or quick coffee talk.

In a study by Harris, socialising correlated with condifence and self-esteem.

Our co working spaces offer a great alternative to working alone at home remotely and even if you work for long periods of time you are surrounded by like-minded individuals. We aim to encourage member conversations and create network building events to create a friendly network.

Thank you for reading, all references are listed below.

The Wheelhouse exists to help and your business flourish (not languish) and we would love to welcome you at one of our local venues, you can find out more here.


The Link Between Self-Esteem and Social Relationships (

About the author

Alex is the co-founder and Managing Director of The Wheelhouse.