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Physical Therapy & Flow: A Remedy for Languishing

Are you struggling to get into a routine that takes into consideration both your physical and mental well-being?  The pandemic threw many of us for a loop – a not enjoyable one that can be hard to escape. You may be languishing.

Key Takeaways:

      • Languishing is the opposite of flourishing, leading to feelings of emptiness and lack of purpose. 

      • While finding a therapist or joining a therapy group can be a good step for many, physical therapy can also help many who are struggling to flourish. 

      • Physical therapy can provide accountability, connection, and a sense of accomplishment. In addition, the physical exercises prepare your body to participate in activities that can bring you joy. 

    What is Languishing?

    The definition of languishing is rather powerful.  According to a news story by WBUR, “[Languishing] is not depression or sadness, but rather ‘the absence of feeling good about your life,’ (and) the lack of meaning, purpose or belonging in life, which leads to emptiness, lack of emotion and stagnation.” 


    Yet, if you’re struggling with these emotions, know you’re not alone.

    How Do You Know If You’re Languishing?

    In my experience, people have no trouble admitting they have a physical ailment such as low back pain, a sprained ankle, or a bum shoulder, but our mental health continues to be taboo.

    Maybe it’s the fact we feel a physical ailment is visible, and therefore somehow more real, while mental health isn’t immediately apparent. 

    Further, it is perfectly acceptable to work on your physical fitness, but many do not know how to work on their mental health. 

    And yet, just as there is a spectrum between peak physical condition and a debilitating injury, there is a spectrum between challenging mental health conditions like depression and anxiety and happiness and joy. 

     Do you feel energized upon waking, ready to take on challenges and enjoy the gifts that your hard work has given you?  Do you have a routine that takes into consideration both your physical and mental well-being? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day? 

    Or do you get up and hope to just survive the day? Do you have trouble maintaining positive behaviors? Do you feel a sense of aimlessness when you go to bed each night?  

    While we all have hard days occasionally, if you’re feeling more “blah” than “hurrah!” – you may be languishing.

    What Causes Languishing?

    If you are languishing, know you’re not alone. In fact, the New York Times called languishing the emotion of 2021.

    The pandemic has taken our poor habits and magnified them.  

    Maybe you were hanging on by a thread to some good habits and were in a routine that focused on your physical and mental well-being, but the pandemic flipped it upside down. And still, years later, you’re struggling to get back to even that tenuous hold. 

    But it’s not all the pandemic’s fault.

    For many people such as James Wallace Harris, the pandemic did not change life very much; why? Because he was already languishing in retirement. 

    James realized that his current health status is a big determining factor of whether he feels he is languishing or flourishing. 

    He muses, “How do we thrive with vanishing vitality and dissipating desires? When my health fails, I languish, and when my well-being returns, I start flourishing again. Unfortunately, the frequency of poor health episodes are increasing.”

    Flow is the Answer

    Flow is a term coined by a psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who describes it as an activity that’s pleasant, enjoyable, and intrinsically motivating

    You know you’re in a state of flow when the time passes so quickly and enjoyably that the rest of the world falls away.

    It shouldn’t be surprising that everyone has different triggers for entering a state of flow, so it’s important to find yours.  

    Try setting aside time each day to engage in an activity that you can get lost in. Go for a walk, play a word game, or chat with a friend. Connecting with others and participating in hobbies we truly enjoy allows many of us to enter that state of flow. 

     Take 10 uninterrupted minutes to reflect on what would help you achieve flow.

    How Can Physical Therapy Help with Languishing? 

    While finding a therapist or joining a therapy group can be a good step for many, physical therapy can also help those who are struggling to flourish. 

    Working with a physical therapist – especially a mobile physical therapist who comes straight to your home –  provides accountability, connection, and a sense of accomplishment. 

    Further, physical therapy can help increase your balance, strength, and flexibility – all of which allow you to participate in activities that may have seemed out of reach just a few months ago.

    If gardening, kayaking, playing with your grandchildren, or other physical activities would bring you into an enjoyable state of flow, but pain, mobility or strength limitations are holding you back, reach out to Live Life Physiotherapy today so we can help!

    About Live Life Physiotherapy

    Live Life Physiotherapy provides customized mobile physical therapy in San Diego to those who need it, where they need it most. Every day, we help residents of La Mesa, El Cajon, Santee, Lakeside, Del Cerro, San Carlos, and the surrounding areas with their physical therapy needs by removing many of the common restrictions and challenges of traditional physical therapy. Our ultimate goal is to help you live your best life.

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