Treading water. Feeling meh. Coasting. We all have different ways to describe the feeling that psychologists refer to as ‘languishing’.
“When you’re in this state, you feel like you’re stagnating – life is a bit aimless and joyless,” says organisational psychologist Adam Grant, author of Think Again. “You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not at the peak of mental health either.”
If you think about the spectrum of mental health, flourishing is the peak of your wellbeing, when life has a strong sense of meaning. At the other end is depression, where you feel drained and worthless. And somewhere in the middle, says Adam, is languishing. This might play out in different ways: you struggle to focus, or don’t feel motivated, or would rather not see friends.
“It appears to be more common than depression and may be a bigger risk factor for mental illness,” says Adam. Here’s how to ensure that dull ache doesn’t escalate.