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What is Languishing?

On a recent trip with my best friend, I found myself confiding in her as we walked on the beach. Nothing was “wrong”, I said- but I was feeling exhausted. Typically I spring out of bed before 6, do my morning routine over a steaming cup of coffee and have energy to go around (I’ve always been this way). Lately, however, I needed both an alarm clock and the Jaws of Life to pull me from my bed. I felt depleted, drained and tired. Even as a mental health professional, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. To my surprise, my friend (equally as energetic and spry) nodded in total understanding. She, too, had been feeling this way. In fact, the more I spoke about this, the more I realized that lots of folks were experiencing this state of malaise. What could it be, I wondered?

Then, I remembered an article I read in the midst of the pandemic – it was about a state called “languishing”. The dictionary defines languishing as “failing to make progress or be successful”. I define it as “my give a shit meter is on the *check engine* light”. Whatever you want to call it – lots of us are feeling it.

It’s no wonder, really. The long, dark and grey days of winter combined with the collective trauma of the pandemic, and trying to solider on in its wake, have left many of us reeling. It has been an effort to get our breath at times. It’s all just been… a lot. 

So, what do you do? I don’t know – this has been my first time trying to catch my breath after a global pandemic. Here’s what has worked for me, though. Listening to my body. Extra sleep. Talking to my therapist about what this has all meant for me. I’ve gone back to gratitude journaling – just three things at the end of the day that I am grateful for (I am so lucky that I live with seven of them). Counting on the spring that is coming. Yoga. Time with friends. Getting back to basics. It’s passing – and I find it helpful to remember that no state or stage of life lasts forever. Here’s to sunnier skies!


Jordan Thomas is a psychotherapist and the owner of an award-winning trauma therapy centre. After recovering from debilitating PTSD, she has built an inspiring life and wants to help you do the same.


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