Getting into a ‘flow state’

Positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi popularised the term ‘flow state’ in 1990. He defines it as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake”. In a flow state, every action, movement and thought follows seamlessly from the previous one – and time flies by.

If you’ve ever been completely immersed in a task, focused on a challenge and totally oblivious to the outside world, you’ve probably experienced being in a flow state. It can be a rewarding experience; doing something you enjoy that stops you from worrying or overthinking and demands your concentration. The uplift in mood can last for days, and it can be a powerful tool for managing stress.

Being in a flow state involves taking part in an activity that requires 100% of your attention. Think about an activity that focuses the mind and stops you from worrying or overthinking, something that you enjoy and find rewarding.

Some examples of activities that can help us to get into a flow state are:

  • Art (such as pottery or painting)
  • Sewing
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • DIY (building your own furniture, fixing something at home)
  • Gardening
  • A sport you love that is continuous such as swimming or jogging.

Take a look at this Ted Talk to find out a bit more about flow state.