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Be Well Community: Losing languishing and finding our ‘best-self’

The Be Well Community discussed the difference between languishing and flourishing.

(May 19, 2021) – In its daily interactive connection surrounding wellness and self-care, Burrell Behavioral Health’s Be Well Community dove into the difference between languishing and flourishing on Wednesday.

The conversation started with a nod to a NY Times article written by Dr. Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton, who described languishing as “a sense of stagnation and emptiness” and as “the void between depression and flourishing.” Grant wrote, “languishing… might be the dominant emotion of 2021.”

In the last year, Burrell has seen a rise in the need for behavioral health services. Experts expect that demand to continue to increase as life returns to a new normal for all of us. Those experts have warned that the effects of pandemic on mental health could be long-lasting with languishing, chronic anxiety and depression.

The term languishing was actually introduced almost two decades before COVID-19 changed the world.

Corey Keyes, a sociologist, coined the term in 2002. Keyes published research in 2009 that showed the risk of a major depressive episode was six times more likely for adults who were languishing compared to those who were flourishing.

The Be Well Community is aimed at achieving and maintaining wellness, as well as preventing mental health crises such as major depressive episodes, by creating a support system made of brain science experts, community members, Burrell employees and viewers on Facebook across the nation. Conversations among those groups allow them to virtually communicate about their mental well-being and how to improve it. The Be Well Community provides real-time connections and wellness practices, allowing those engaged to experience positive effects in the moment.

In Wednesday’s live segment, Dr. Shelly Farnan, a psychologist at Burrell Behavioral Health and the Vice President of the Be Well Initiatives, said languishing could cause someone to experience burnout, a lack of motivation and feeling numb.

“We feel foggy. We feel as though we are not achieving to our typical level of achievement,” Farnan said.

The community caught this comment and shifted the conversation to a shared feeling of guilt for being tired. Members expressed they are worn down but carrying the weight of things they feel obligated to accomplish.

Farnan explained that’s a common when it comes to the COVID-19 crisis, as many people are comparing their productivity to what it was before an unknown virus took over the world.

“We’re expecting ourselves to be at a level we were prior to this pandemic, where all these new stressors hit us,” Farnan said. “We’re constantly trying to take in all the information to keep ourselves and others safe as well as making decisions as well as trying to continue life as we knew it which was nothing like we knew it before.”

On the other hand, flourishing, she said, is the peak of a person’s well-being.

Farnan posed questions to the community, asking, “Where is it that we want to arrive as our best selves?"

Farnan said intentional self-care and kindness can help shift someone from state of languishing to flourishing as the world moves into the next phase of the pandemic. She and the community developed a list of ideas to implement into everyday life:

  • Healthy and healing connection with those who fuel you
  • Gratitude – It not only ignites us individually, but does that for others
  • Tune into ourselves, establish regular self-check-ins
  • Self-expression
  • Take time off when you’re able
  • Change your scenery
  • Walk instead of work
  • Regulate a routine of wellness
  • Send a text of gratitude to those who inspire you
  • Listen to calming music

Farnan and other experts explained, everyone deserves wellness. She also noted that someone who senses they might be languishing should also know the signs of depression. She said anyone who doesn’t understand the root cause of their feelings could end up in a more dangerous and difficult situation.

If you are in crisis, please call Burrell’s free 24/7 crisis assist team to connect with help immediately:

Find out more about the Be Well Community at:

About the Be Well Initiatives
The Be Well Initiatives were established in 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic for Burrell Behavioral Health employees to connect and experience community while working from home and navigating the uncertainty of the coronavirus. That effort was expanded to Facebook Live to allow access for all people. Through intentional self-care and connection, the Be Well Community brings brain science to life to help everyone experience hope and healing.

About Burrell Behavioral Health
Burrell Behavioral Health is the second largest behavioral health center in Missouri, working with more than 40,000 clients across 25 counties in Missouri and Arkansas. Burrell has more than 400 licensed providers offering a full continuum of care through our integrated network. Services include individual therapy and counseling, addiction recovery, psychiatric and medication management, educational and therapeutic groups, crisis intervention, medication-assisted treatment, adult stabilization, case management, residential treatment, autism, diagnostic testing and evaluations and developmental disability support. Learn more about Burrell’s programs and services at www.burrellcenter.com.


24-Hour Crisis Line

If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health or substance-use crisis, please call our toll-free 24-hour telephone line. Our team can help provide immediate assistance.

Southwest Missouri: 1-800-494-7355

Central Missouri: 1-800-395-2132

National Help Line: Call or Text 988