Sam Radford

April 23, 2021

How I got myself out of a state of languishing

Yesterday’s post introduced the concept of languishing. It’s a mental state that sits somewhere between depression and flourishing. And, in the fallout from the last year, it’s a state many of us – myself included – have found ourselves in.

I noticed it when, for example, I'd bump into another parent at the school gates, dropping my youngest off. They'd ask how I am, and I’d reply with a kind of half shrug of the shoulders and an, ‘Alright’.

I didn’t feel terrible. It wasn’t something that could be considered close to depression. But I was a long way from flourishing. I was, it turns out, languishing.

There were many low points throughout 2020. Whether November was a particularly low point, I don’t know. But it was around that time I made some changes to my daily habits. Though I still wouldn’t say I’m at a point of flourishing, I do now feel closer to that. They are practices that have undeniably reduced the sense of languishing I’ve felt over the last few months.

The first of these habits is journalling. I actually started out 2020 journalling, inspired by the bullet journal method. Then the April and May months came though and hit me hard. All the momentum I had at the start of the year had soon run dry. But in mid-November, I found my mind getting drawn to my journal again. And I decided I would begin each day writing in it. I’ve been doing it ever since, without missing a day.

I write about anything and everything. I capture thoughts I’m thinking and feelings I’m feeling. I note down insights from what I read, what I watch, what I do. Basically though, I just write. I don’t always know what I’m going to write, but I pick up my pen, open my notebook, and start anyway. 

Starting my day like this, before I look at my phone, or get distracted by the day, has been therapeutic for me. Taking a small amount of time at the outset of the day to record what’s swirling around in my mind has improved each day immeasurably.

The second habit that I also started in November last year, is doing some physical exercise. Since leaving university, I’ve hardly done any sport. Other than walking, there hasn't been any challenging physical exercise in my life. I stayed relatively healthy due to the amount of the walking. But, as my Apple Watch kindly pointed out to me, my cardio fitness was ‘below average’.
 
Now, following my morning writing, I do 20 to 30 minutes of physical exercise. Typically this is a HIIT workout using Apple Fitness+. Though I even started running too. Something I hadn’t done for around 18 years! And, little by little, I’ve been getting fitter and healthier. 

Going from writing to physical exercise in the morning has helped set me up for the day. But it doesn’t stop there. 

After my workout, I jump in the shower. And I use that time for prayer, meditation, and breathing exercises. Adding a spiritual dimension, slowing myself down, further ensures I’m starting the day from a healthy foundation. 

As the saying goes, your mileage may vary, but I’ve found these three habits to be life-giving for me. Helping me take steps away from languishing and back towards flourishing. 

–Sam

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