To Languish Is to Struggle
Many people are struggling right now. The public health emergency (which is, unfortunately, ongoing) has upended our lives in so many ways. And while we have dealt with all of the changes—and the changes to those changes—brought on by the pandemic, there have been plenty of other things that have added stress to our lives. It is fair to say that this past year and a half has taken a toll on nearly all of us.
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Winston Churchill is often credited with saying, “If you are going through hell, keep going.” It is a pithy and practical notion. But an awful lot of people are finding it difficult to keep moving forward under the current circumstances. Instead, they are—to use a term coined by sociologist Corey Keyes—languishing.
What does it mean to languish? Let’s take a closer look.
Languishing Is the Opposite of Flourishing
When things are going our way, we might be said to be flourishing. We’re happy. We’re healthy. We’re motivated and relaxed.
On the other hand, when we’re struggling, we are at risk of languishing. We’re unhappy. We’re less healthy. We’re unmotivated and stressed out.
A person who is languishing may feel overwhelmed by their to-do list and unable to convince themselves to do any of the tasks on that list. They may feel fatigued and also have trouble sleeping. They may feel like they have an infinite number of responsibilities but that none of those responsibilities have any real meaning or purpose.
This sort of dissatisfaction and restlessness can be problematic for anyone. But for those in recovery from a substance use disorder, it can be particularly dangerous.
Languishing Can Lead to Relapse
Like depression, anxiety, or unchecked burnout, languishing can undermine your recovery. After all, if you feel like nothing matters, you will likely feel like it doesn’t matter if you start using drugs or alcohol again. Alternately, you may find yourself tempted to use drugs or alcohol to “self-medicate” in the hope that you might find a spark that will jumpstart you and get you back on track.
Odds are good that you know that neither of those things—the sense that nothing matters or the quick fix of self-medicating—are a good reason to start up again with drugs or alcohol. But when you are languishing, it can be harder to make the right decisions.
That’s why it is so important to follow Churchill’s advice to keep going. Here are some ideas that might help you do just that.
Getting Going & Leaving Languishing Behind
One of the main challenges of languishing is that you may feel extremely unmotivated to help yourself get over the hump. Nevertheless, you can do yourself some good if you can convince yourself to try one or more of the following:
- Talk to a therapist: Languishing has a lot in common with depression, and as a result, your therapist may be able to
help you find ways to battle it.
- Double down on your good habits: When you are languishing, it can be hard to exercise or meditate or write in your journal or do any of the things that support your mental health and recovery. But small victories are still significant victories and can help you move forward in a positive way.
- Find something engrossing: A sense of purposelessness can be difficult to overcome, but diving into a new project at work or a new hobby at home can be a place to start. Find something that can capture your attention and spark your creativity. You’ll be better served by something active that you can really latch onto (rather than, say, binging your favorite show…again).
Sobriety Is the Path Back to Flourishing
If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, languishing may be the least of your problems at the moment—unless a lack of motivation is keeping you from getting the help you need.
We can provide that help at Bel Aire Recovery Center. We offer personalized, compassionate treatment for substance use disorders (and co-occurring mental health disorders) so that you can get your life back on track and start your recovery journey with confidence. We are committed to providing ongoing support to help you maintain your sobriety and strengthen your mental health.
Get Help ASAP
Getting help can’t wait. If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, the time to get help is right now.