Have you ever become so engrossed in doing something that you completely lose all sense of time? I am not talking about scrolling through Facebook or binge watching Orange is the New Black here! If you have then it is likely that you were experiencing what is known as flow. Flow, first named by positive psychology researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the process of the activity. Athletes call it being in the zone.
You can experience flow when undertaking any activity that requires utilisation of some kind of skill. Flow activities could be almost anything such as; reading, writing, jigsaw puzzles, gardening, dancing, playing an instrument, drawing, painting, walking, doing yoga, beading, craft, knitting and so on. Some people are even blessed enough to experience flow when they are at work, now that’s something to think about! For me it is when I am delivering training, time simply does not exist when I am talking about something that makes my heart sing and I am sharing my passion with others.
Getting into flow is a great way to reduce stress, as while in flow you will experience an almost meditative state and that carries with it all of the benefits of meditation and mindfulness, so you will feel much less stressed and more relaxed and often a great sense of satisfaction, depending on your chosen activity, when you are done. On a neurological level the reason we feel so good is that the brain releases the feel good hormone dopamine. Awesome, doing something enjoyable and the brain loves us for it, win-win I reckon!
If you don’t have a flow activity that you enjoy, I highly recommend finding one. It doesn’t have to be difficult, or cost money, but it definitely should be something you enjoy. Dig out an old jigsaw, grab a board game, have a go at something that you have always wanted to try.
Get into flow today – you will be glad that you did!