On Wednesday 1 September the Emergency Services Foundation presented its Insight Conversation on the feeling of languishing and what we can do about it.

It’s not depression - it’s just feeling somewhat joyless and aimless, and it's hard to describe when people ask how you're going... It's called languishing.

The recording is available esf.com.au/2021/08/19/languishing/ (External link)

About this event

Languishing captures that ‘blah’ feeling so many of us are experiencing in the pandemic-response lockdowns. It is an emotional state characterised by a sense of stagnation, lacklustre, emptiness and disconnection.

If we visualise mental health as a continuum, languishing sits towards the endpoint of mental illness, but it is not a clinical disorder. It is a term coined by American sociologist and psychologist Corey Keyes that seems so apt in the current environment and is sure to become as popular as pivot, and you are on mute!

  • Dr Paula Robinson CEO and Founder of Applied Positive Psychology Learning Institute explained that it is a normal feeling in such extraordinary times but there are things we can do to help push us in the direction of mental fitness or ‘flourishing’, the opposite endpoint of the mental health continuum. Paula provided some practical tips on how to deal with languishing. Most important is a routine of physical movement, time outdoors, and connection with a support person professional or otherwise. She described how to deal with negative thoughts and focus on things within our control. She reminded us that bad times pass and that there are two things that determine mental fitness “how you think and what you do”.
  • Cate Page Executive Director, Clinical Services of Converge International spoke about how languishing has been more evident in EAP clients through lockdowns with people presenting with numerous issues including anger. She explained how important it is to separate out the issues to identify the things you can control. She stressed that in workplaces there needs to be continued structured investment in people through check ins, especially for people working remotely, saying it does not need to come from the manager, but it is so important for everyone to have a safe space to talk through what is happening.
  • Suzanne Leckie,\ CFA Organisational Wellbeing Manager said volunteers “don’t join CFA to go on Zoom, they join to give to the community and for social connection”. CFA has instigated a range of strategies for volunteers and staff including introducing the concept of languishing and making it okay to say, “this is a struggle”. Online meeting free days and encouraging authentic leadership, so vulnerability is shared at such a difficult time have been welcome and helpful initiatives.

The recording is available esf.com.au/2021/08/19/languishing/ (External link)