It’s the end of the year and you’re feeling burnt out. You have no motivation to teach. At this point, you may be numb and simply just going through the motions, day in and day out. There’s a name for what you’re feeling. It’s called languishing, and you’re not the only one feeling it…
What is ‘languishing’?
Languishing is the opposite of flourishing. It’s a combination of apathy, restlessness, and an overall lack of interest in things that ordinarily would bring you joy. Languishing is not a mental illness; it’s a mental state of low energy.
What causes languishing?
For many people, languishing was brought on by the uncertainty and isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s as if we’ve been on high alert for two years and we’re simply running out of mental energy. It’s a feeling not limited to teachers or to U.S. citizens. An international study
of nearly 10,000 people in 78 countries found at least 10 percent were languishing.
Are you languishing?
Maybe. See if you share any of these common signs and symptoms:
- Isolating yourself from friends and family
- Going through the motions
- Struggling with basic tasks
- A feeling of numbness
- A lack of self-worth
- A feeling of restlessness but not knowing what to do
- A tendency to miss work lately
If you are susceptible to anxiety and depression, you might be more prone to languishing.
Is languishing the same as depression?
No. Languishing and depression share many of the same characteristics but they are not the same. Depression is a mental illness. With depression, you may experience fatigue. You may sleep too much or too little, and have negative emotions and suicidal thoughts.
Languishing is not a mental illness; neither is it a description of mental health. It’s somewhere in between. With languishing, you experience negative emotions. You feel as if you’re not in control of your life. You may feel empty. For some people, languishing could be a risk factor for a mental illness like depression.
What can you do about languishing?
No one wants to feel empty and numb. It’s exhausting and not good for your quality of life. That’s why it’s important to recognize your feelings and do something about them. Fortunately, there are simple self-care strategies that you can take to recharge your emotional batteries and restore your spark. Here is a sampling.
- Take time off. You probably work a lot, after school, evenings and weekends. Give yourself a break. If you can’t take a couple of personal days, then at least give yourself weekends off. Take the time to recharge so that you can come back reenergized.
- Find your happy place. Spend time doing what makes you happy, not what should make you happy. Carve out some time each week for a favorite hobby, a coffee date with a dear friend, or simply some precious alone time with a favorite book. Choose something that you look forward to doing, and that will be the right thing for you.
- Practice self-care. Eat well. Get enough sleep. Taking care of your body will help put you in the right place to support your mental wellbeing.
- Change your scenery. Take a walk in the park. Stroll along a body of water. Find a quiet place to enjoy nature. Just getting away from your normal daily scene can do wonders to perk up your thoughts. Bring a friend and you can enjoy wonderful social connections, too.
- Perform acts of kindness. Make someone a cup of coffee. Help a work colleague. Pay the toll for a stranger. Volunteer in your community. The simple act of doing things for others will boost your spirits.
- Practice gratitude. Remember that you have a lot for which you are thankful. Make a list. Include your thanks for the physical, emotional, and spiritual parts of your life. Do this daily, and you’ll start to see a difference in how you view your life.
- Try something new. Get yourself out of the languishing rut by working on a new skill. Seek out a new interest. Invite a friend to join you, and you’ll get the added bonus of time spent together.
- Consult a therapist. If you cannot shake the feeling of languishing on your own, ask for help. A licensed therapist is there to help you navigate through this mental state and emerge on the other side more confident, energized, and in the perfect mindset to flourish.
It may be hard to push through right now, but the end of the school year is in sight. And if there is anything we have learned over the past two years, it’s that teachers can do anything they set their minds to. Go on! You’ve got this!
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