Flow – Being and Staying in the Zone

By Hannah Aslin, MA Candidate

verified by Psychology Today

Flow…What is it and what does it mean?

Flow, also known as a Flow State or being in the zone, is a term used in positive psychology to refer to the mental state in which a person who is performing an activity feels a high level of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of performing the activity. I’m sure that after reading that definition, you can recall a time or two in which you have been in the Flow and have felt the gratification and fulfillment associated with this state of being.

I’m also confident that, like myself, you can think of plenty of instances where you have struggled to get into the Flow and experienced the sense of being out of whack or unfulfilled. People use Flow to order their minds and have the sense that they have ultimate control over their happiness.

Flow is considered to be a large part of improving the human experience and allowing us to live a meaningful life in which we utilize our virtues and strengths for something bigger than us. It is important for us then to understand how to enter the flow state, maintain it, and enjoy the activities that we engage in.

Getting in the Zone

Everyone wants to be in the zone and experience being in the Flow State, but it can sometimes be tough to get there and even more difficult to stay there. But you are in luck because I have found some ways to enter a Flow State of mind and I’m going to share them with you (cue cheering and celebratory music)!

It has been discovered through research that you can enter a Flow State in several ways and every person has different activities that they enjoy engaging in that get them in the zone, for me, it’s kickboxing (there’s something about being able to punch something and getting aggression out that really speaks to me).

It is important to note what a Flow activity entails, as to not confuse it with a leisure activity.

A Flow activity:

a) is useful and challenging, making it intrinsically rewarding,

b) helps you progress toward a goal, and

c) provides feedback to help gauge the effectiveness of your efforts. With that in mind, here is a list of different activities that  can help you attain a Flow State:

  • Physical activities (sports, yoga, dance, martial arts)
  • Outdoor challenges (hiking, rock climbing)
  • Music (writing, playing, mixing/producing)
  • Art (painting, sculpting, mixed media, pottery)
  • Photography
  • Woodworking
  • DIY projects (home improvement)
  • Working with animals
  • Gardening
  • Cooking and baking
  • Coding or software development
  • Scrapbooking
  • Writing
  • Sewing, knitting, cross stitch
  • Horseback riding

Those are just a few of the various different Flow activities that could lead

you to that optimal Flow State. Pick one, five, or all of them (if you’re an overachiever), and see which one works for you.

Almost any activity can induce a Flow State as long as relevant elements are present. In other words, when you have the ability to get into the flow in all aspects of your life (work, school, social, personal/play) you have the ability to improve your overall quality of life. So, on your marks…get set…FLOW!

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