Research suggests people who are in the flow zone state of mind perform better at the job and experience a heightened sense of wellbeing. The theory of flow is based on research that has demonstrated how the pursuit of flow experiences leads to higher levels of performance, creativity, and fulfillment. Flow can be defined as a state of being fully immersed in the activity at hand. When tasks come together, problem-solving feels easy, there is a heightened sense of focus/creativity, and no sense of time – this is the flow zone. Feelings of flow may help combat feelings of depression or low moods and relieve stress.
Master Medcor’s guiding health principles to find the flow zone.
Steps to cultivating a steady stream of flow:
Find a flow-worthy activity.
Mind your happiness by making regular time for activities that make you smile or bring you joy. Set aside time for your favorite hobby, activities and people. Find purpose – fulfilling your purpose can fill your heart with flow feelings and offset stress.
Move your body regularly to cultivate feelings of flow.
Seek physical activity that feels good. Think beyond the gym, or fitness center for physical activity. Try dancing, hiking, yoga, gardening, playing on the playground with the kids. Physical activity can enhance mental wellness.
Feel flow in your environment.
Unplug from social media and technology. Social media can leave some people feeling blue. Instead, seek new experiences, visit new places and look for new situations in “real life” to initiate motivation. Explore ecotherapy. Ecotherapy is the relationship between humans and the earth or nature. Time in nature (about 2 hours per week in green spaces, local parks or natural environments) can lead to feelings of well-being – as long as one feels safe in the natural environment.
Handle your hygiene.
Hygiene extends beyond personal cleanliness. Explore environmental hygiene. Hygiene refers to practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease. What can you do to get involved in your community to promote personal or environmental health? Volunteering for a community cause can create flow feelings and offset stress.
Set flow goals.
Set clear “mini” goals to build a framework for flow. An example of a mini-goal: “During the month of February, I will begin each morning with a 20-minute walk. During my walk, I will focus on my surroundings and clear my mind”. Goals do not have to be complex and drawn out. Begin with small challenges and build a larger plan by stacking mini-goals to get in the flow zone. Goal setting is a tool that may enhance our feelings of well-being.
Be mindful of flow.
Practicing breathing exercises or mindful activities may clear the mind of “noise” and make clear space for creativity or flow. A quick mindful exercise includes resting in a comfortable position, and focusing on your breath and body only. When your thoughts wander to daily ideas, redirect your thoughts back to your breath and body, start with one minute of clearing your mind of clutter. Mindful practice can lead to a better night’s sleep. Get your sleep –about 7- 8 hours of quality sleep –for mental wellness and to re-energize for tomorrow’s flow activities. Create a calming sleep routine/schedule and stick to it. Consider downloading a sleep app or purchasing a white noise machine to ease into sleep.
Select food for mood and flow.
Poor nutrition is sometimes a factor for low mood. Healthy eating patterns (e.g. eat real food) are associated with better mental health. Tweaks to food and drink intake can enhance your flow and wellbeing. Quick changes such as reducing or eliminating alcohol or processed foods can help regulate your mood.
If you are feeling low and unmotivated for an extended period of time and a low mood is impairing day to day life, be sure to seek a support network, make an appointment with a healthcare provider or check with your Human Resources Benefit representative to see which benefits your employer provides (e.g. EAP) that can help you. Reach out for a helping hand, there are people eager to help others in a time of need.