Have you been feeling “blah”, down, or sluggish lately?

A name for the “Blah” we’ve all been feeling is Languishing

A name for the Blah we've been feeling is Languishing
A name for the Blah we’ve been feeling is Languishing — Photo by Unsplash

A recent article in the New York Times (about the Blah we’ve all been feeling during the pandemic being called Languishing) has flooded the internet.

Have you or someone you know been feeling Blah during the pandemic? I suppose I have, and I know many in my family and friends circle have been feeling the same way.

We just didn’t know what it was called or that there was actually a word for the way we were all feeling. Now I do know, it makes sense; kind of.

So, what is this Blah or languishing we’ve been feeling?

In Psychology withering is like languishing; feeling Blah!
In Psychology withering is like languishing ; feeling Blah — Photo by Pexels

Thesaurus.com and Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary suggest the following:

  • withering
  • fading
  • flagging
  • snivelling
  • droopy
  • listless
  • tired
  • sluggish……………

Mind you, I won’t be calling myself snivelling, droopy or withering any time soon. In fact, I’m not sure I’d use any of those descriptions, other than listless or tired perhaps, and fatigued — yes, that’s how I feel. Languishing tho’? I always associated that word with luxury, like languishing in the bath or on a beach? Okay, maybe not.

The author of “A name for Blah is languishing” writes

A name for the Blah we've been feeling is Languishing
Text by Mentalhealth360 —Image by Freepik

In psychology, we think about mental health on a spectrum from depression to flourishing. Flourishing is the peak of well-being where you have a strong sense of meaning, mastery and mattering to others. Depression is the valley of ill-being and you feel despondent, drained and worthless.

“Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It can dull your motivation and focus — and it may be the dominant emotion of 2021.”

Adam Grant, professor of management and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania

It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either.

You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work. It appears to be more common than major depression — and in some ways, it may be a bigger risk factor for mental illness.

Languishing, like depression, is associated with significant psychosocial impairment in terms of perceived emotional health, limitations of activities of daily living, and workdays lost or cutback.

Changes post-Coronavirus

Languishing at her laptop
Languishing at her laptop — Photo by Pexels

Since the start of Coronavirus, remote working and reliance on technology with no face to face contact have become increasingly common practice in workplaces around the world.

Coronavirus has had a huge impact on the way work environments have changed, and I dare say we’ll see further negative changes before it’s over. I imagine either reduced hours and/or more job loss post-Covid, meaning reduced income and more stress for some.

While I feel for anyone in this situation, unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do about these enforced changes. However, what we can do is look after ourselves mentally and physically, and look out for our loved ones, and be supportive where possible.

Be kind and show compassion to both yourself and others, and let’s all give ourselves the care and attention we’d give to them.

“If my thoughts or feelings were being expressed by a loved one or a friend, what advice would I give them?”


How to spot signs of languishing

Lack of excitement? — Photo by Pexels

While not as severe and not its own mental health disorder, languishing could be one of the first warning signs of depression. Things to look out for, in yourself or others, and sooner rather than later, might be:

  • Lack of motivation to i.e. exercise, work or complete household tasks
  • Lack of interest in things that previously mattered
  • Poor concentration i.e lose the plot of a story or t.v. programme
  • Lack of excitement about the future
  • Being stuck in a monotonous routine
  • Not functioning at your fullest
  • Indifference
  • Loss of purpose

The spectrum of languishing to flourishing

From languishing to flourishing
From languishing to flourishing — Photo by Pexels

Research identified 6 core components of psychological wellbeing that influence where someone falls on the spectrum (Keyes, 2002). How might you help yourself and others move from languishing towards flourishing in these areas?

  1. Self-acceptance – liking most things about ourselves. If not, and this is important, jot down some of the things you like about yourself, and keep writing ’til you run out of words. Seeing the words can have a positive effect on your mental well-being.
  2. Positive relationships with others – forming and maintaining warm, supportive, and trusting relationships with others. Think about those close to you and what you mean to each other.
  3. Personal growth – seeing ourselves as becoming better people. Most of us strive to become better people. I love it when hubby tells people “she makes me want to be a better person!” It makes me feel good about me; that I’ve made a difference, even to one person.
  4. Purpose in life – having a sense of direction or meaning in life. This one often gets to me, ‘cos when I was medically retired from the job I loved I felt I’d lost my purpose in life. However, blogging about, and as an advocate for all things mental health from both personal and professional experience helps.
  5. Environmental mastery – feeling able to shape the world around us (at least to some extent) to meet our needs. If you live in a small space like me, you might have a few plants that you water and tend to. Or you may be lucky enough to have a garden and grow flowers, fruit or veg, and plants, and be able to sit out in the sun. While these are small ideas, lots of people flourish when gardening or when they feel the sun on their skin.
  6. Autonomy – believing that we’re reasonably in control of what happens to us (i.e. rather than others, fate, or luck being totally in charge). Again, this one was difficult for me — but I’m back on track.

Don’t worry, to be considered flourishing, we don’t need to be highly rated in all areas of life at once.

Speak up

Understanding and identifying languishing can help us all shift this focus and have a conversation — sooner rather than later. That way people are supported back to positive mental health sooner and more efficiently.

If you or a loved one feels stuck and you’re not sure how to move forward, you might want to seek professional help, so contact your GP in the first instance.

Over to you

Have you been feeling Blah lately? What’re your thoughts about languishing? I look forward to reading your comments and answering any questions.


Author: mentalhealth360.uk

Mum to two amazing sons. Following recovery from a lengthy psychotic episode, depression, anxiety and anorexia, I decided to train as a Mental Health Nurse and worked successfully in various settings before becoming a Ward Manager. I am a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and a Mental Health Awareness Trainer, Mental Health First Aid Youth and Mental Health Armed Forces Instructor. Just started my mental health from the other side blog.

41 thoughts on “Have you been feeling “blah”, down, or sluggish lately?”

    1. Aawww, it’s not a great feeling is it. Hopefully, it will pass. I was starting to plan holidays, one to see my son in San Diego but now Boris is preparing to let us know that we might not be allowed any foreign travel 🙁 x

  1. Languishing! This is brilliant post and exactly how I have felt of late. Thank you for sharing 🙏

  2. I wonder if this will end up reducing mental illness stigma a bit as so many people struggle with their mental/emotional health.

  3. ‘Blah’ is a pretty accurate way of describing how I’ve felt over the last few months. I don’t like using the word ‘depression’ to describe myself so that’s a nice inbetween.

    Generally I’ve felt the feeling of what is the purpose of life and loss of motivation- simple tasks like brushing my teeth I’ve neglected!

    Thankfully since lockdown has started to ease I’m beginning to find meaning and motivation again!

    1. I don’t like seeing myself as depressed either James and tend to use ‘feeling low in mood’. That word ‘depressed’ has such negative connotations.

      It’s good to hear you’re starting to see positive changes in your life since easing of lockdown.

      I was looking forward to planning a trip to San Diego but Boris has warned us off booking anything aty the moment 🙁 It felt like I had something to look forward to. Now we have to wait til 17th May.

  4. I like your suggestion about Environmental mastery, it makes such a difference to me when your surroundings make you feel welcome and at home. I love the effect of gardening on my little balcony in the sun, I feel happier and productive tending to living things.

  5. Languishing – the blah, describes exactly what this is along with its impacts.

    It would be fair to say, I have had “the blah” a week at a time when it has happened.

    There are days when I turn to Linda and just say “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah blah blah!” mimicking the anime/manga Bobobo bo Bobobo.

    It was a favourite show of the boys when they were little and it would crack me up. It was about preventing bad guys in the future stealing people’s hair. As Linda used to say “what were they on when they made this show?”


    Brilliant post, Caz 😊

    1. Yep. I tell hubby just to leave me and I’ll come out of the Blah when I’m ready. I’d never heard of this show but hahaha, it does look like fun 🙂

      I agree with Linda, what with the gold afro and steel nose hair?? 😉

  6. This is so helpful! This is exactly how I have been feeling these past 14 months

  7. Languishing is a great word for what we are all feeling… luckily though I had plenty of experience with this before COVID so perhaps this made it all easier for me to process… this ain’t the worst thing that’s ever happened to me by far! I have to say I love the word sniveling, too. I’ve had too many times of feeling that way, sad to say!

    1. Lol, you do make me laugh JoAnn. While I’ve felt blah, I can’t say COVID changed much for me either. I think it was just having the freedom to do anything (even tho I don;t anyway) taken away 🙁

      1. Ha ha that’s so funny! I think that’s the case for a lot of us. I’m resolving to try to get out more and do stuff as COVID passes but will see how that goes. 😆

      2. I’m trying to establish some sort exercise around the house. Because I haven’t been out due to Covid, I’ve put on weight – yuk! So I need to get rid of that and I’ll try to do some walking each day hahaha 🙂

  8. I really relate to this, I’ve struggled with this most recent lockdown far more than the others, and blah is the best word to describe how I’ve felt. Thanks for this helpful post Caz 😊

    1. You’re welcome Jess. I don’t think it affected my life too much, I think it was more that my freedom was taken. So even if I could go out, I wasn’t allowed lol 🙁

  9. Somehow I still like using the word blah. I feel blah. I’m not going out because I feel blah or bleah. Lol.

  10. Yeah, let’s stick with “languishing” and leave off the “sniveling, droopy” stuff. I don’t think it’s going to boost anyone’s mood. 😅

    Thanks for providing a more concrete picture of “languishing.” Looking at the symptoms, I have to admit I probably had that on a regular basis well before 2020.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights