27 Aug 2021

Languish is consuming us. But what is it?

Many of us across the country may feel a sense of languish right now. ‘Languish’ – what is this you may ask?  A feeling of just ok, not mentally unwell but not flourishing. Sound familiar? Feeling unmotivated without purpose and any real sense of achievement and joy is a common story shared round the world right now. 18 months on Covid-19 feels physically unending, the emotional impacts feel like a mighty slog too.



When we languish we experience the absence of well-being. We aren’t depressed, but we aren’t thriving. Languish is a term developed by sociologist Corey Keyes. Why should we pay attention to this term now? Because Keyes research suggests a major risk factor to the future of our mental health is to be caught in a state of languish. As Covid-19 roles on we become a little resigned and indifferent, and this is where languish takes hold. Our happiness & drive feels dulled. We find ourselves living with an internal weight of worry and uncertainty. Our sense of success & achievement feels robbed.

The thing about languish is we often don’t recognise it. Without awareness we cannot help ourselves or each other. It feels good to call it out, because when we do, we can own it together and realise languishing is common and we aren’t fighting the languish battle alone. Better yet, it may just give us all a little more confidence to own our vulnerabilities and openly share our challenges with others. For every person that feels languish and shares languish, another individual is gifted the courage to share their battles. How liberating to say, ‘you know what I’m not ok’ and for that to be absolutely ok.



In the enduring pandemic, our connections with each other also provide the greatest safeguard from experiencing languish. We can take back some control and happiness when we invest the time to check in with one another. We beat languish when we take our internal worry and turn it outwards to others. Instantly we feel a more meaningful & purposeful life, and we lift others from the weight of languish too.

The pandemic has robbed us of a lot. But we can win back by reminding each other of our small wins. We can support each other to act despite fear, and to know it’s ok to be vulnerable. Our true happiness & success is often best realised when we persevere in situations that are less than perfect. Globally, languish has been unearthed in all its glory. It certainly doesn’t mean we are all mentally unwell, but perhaps it does provide each of us the gift to be more aware of our own mental health loads and that of others. When we can normalise our mental health challenges, we stand in the best position to win back our wellbeing.

#mentalhealth #wellbeing #languish #checkin #RUOK?


Poppy Griffiths is a professional coach and Director of UnlimitU a high performance consultancy which supports the inclusion of working parents, women in leadership and the mental wellbeing of teams. If you are interested in private or organisational coaching, workshops, or speaker programs, please do get in touch. poppy@unlimitu.com.au 


Poppy is UnlimitU's founder and principal success coach. "Every human has more potential, hidden, held back or in the making"