Why Going With the Flow can Boost Productivity and Wellness

Easy immersion in tasks can be part and parcel of daily life.

Jan 23, 2022
Why Going With the Flow can Boost Productivity and Wellness | Easy immersion in tasks can be part and parcel of daily life.

Being in a “state of flow” has been shown to positively affect overall wellness, and can also be a helpful tool for productivity. Here we examine what it means, take a look at the benefits to wellbeing, and follow this with some tips on achieving flow in our daily lives.

What is being in a state of flow aka ‘in the zone’?
Flow is defined as the state of being when someone is completely absorbed in something or in the moment, as shondaland reports, whether it be a work task, a leisure activity or simply meditating. Some other indications that someone is experiencing flow include not realizing time has passed, feeling relaxed and optimally focused, and fully enjoying the experience as it is happening. 

This state of mind  is also referred to as being in the zone and causes the person to be entirely immersed in the task at hand. VerywellMind, for instance, quotes artist Paul Klee who explained this optimal state as he experienced it: "Everything vanishes around me, and works are born as if out of the void… Ripe, graphic fruits fall off. My hand has become the obedient instrument of a remote will."

The benefits of flow according to experts
Several academics of studies on flow zoom in on the  benefits to wellbeing of this state of mind. One of them is Richard Huskey, assistant professor of communication and cognitive science at the University of California Davis and author of a recent study that seeks to get to the neurobiological basis of flow experiences. This study,using video gaming, notes that people perceive flow experiences as a fairly paradoxical mix of high-control and effortless feelings, even when the task difficulty they are focusing on is high. Overall, flow experiences, the abstract explains,  “are highly rewarding and are associated with well-being.” 

Other key benefits of flow include raised self-esteem, self-confidence, and overall mental stimulation and enjoyment. 

According to Solara Mental Health, based on research from Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, flow can stimulate happiness and can be accomplished even by doing simple tasks that make us happy. This approach documents how flow can help with overall happiness when we adopt certain practices that encourage it such as setting goals and being focused on the moment.  Performing these actions can make  someone feel accomplished, productive and happy so wellness is boosted. 

Flow can also positively impact energy and stress levels. According to UC Davis, when people are in flow, they perform tasks more easily without needing to use too much energy and this could allow them to relieve stress by using flow to overcome challenging tasks.  This article suggests evidence supports the idea that flow can ward off depression, prevent burnout and make us more resilient.

How to get in the flow
Flow not only has positive benefits but it can also be achieved by anyone and it is something that can be practiced based on a few simple steps. 

Getting in the flow can be achieved by keeping in mind certain ideas and doing certain actions. In terms of what to keep in mind, there are a couple of different ways to get in the flow of a task. By clearing your mind, only focusing on the task at hand, and enjoying what you are doing, you can achieve flow more easily. 

There are many more ways to help yourself get in the flow, though. According to Verywell Mind, five things that can be done to help achieve flow include having experience in the activity or task, challenging yourself and your skills, having clear goals, avoiding interruptions and enjoying the process. 

Flow has been shown to have a positive effect on wellbeing and is an amazing tool for helping the mind. The best part is that getting in the flow can be achieved by all, and therefore everyone can enjoy the process of getting in the zone and reaping the benefits that it comes with!

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Emma is a freelance writer focusing on topics that will positively impact people's lives. She loves history, including the cultural artifacts that reflect it. With an undergraduate degree in English, she is currently working on her Master of Arts in Archaeology.