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Introducing Flow State

Have you ever gotten so absorbed in an activity that time seems to melt away? That's Flow (with a capital F!), a concept popularised by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Described as complete immersion in an activity for pure enjoyment, Flow allows us to experience peak concentration and satisfaction. While I've previously explored Flow's connection to autistic monotropic focus, this post dives deeper into the concept itself, to help you understand the essence of this captivating state.

What is Flow State? 🤔

The research suggests that there are three main characteristics of Flow state and that this is how we can identify it:

  • The activity has clear goals and measurable progress to create structure and direction.

  • The activity gives you immediate feedback, enabling you to make adjustments as you progress and keep the momentum going.

  • The activity should strike the perfect balance of being a bit of a challenge, but still within your reach.

It's important to note that Flow is different from hyperfocus, which can involve getting stuck on a task even if it's no longer enjoyable or productive. Flow is also distinct from mindfulness, which is about being present in the moment without necessarily engaging in a specific activity.

The Benefits of Flow 🌟

When we enter Flow state, it's like unlocking a secret superpower! Research shows that Flow can boost our productivity, creativity, and overall well-being. I find that when I'm in Flow, I'm able to write blog posts (like this one!) with ease and come up with fresh ideas that I might not have otherwise considered.

For autistic individuals, Flow can be especially beneficial as it aligns with our natural ability to focus intensely on our passions and interests due to our hyperconnected brains. It's like our brains are wired for Flow!

Cultivating Flow 🌱

So, how can you invite more Flow into your life? Here are a few tips:

  • Create a sensory-friendly environment that minimises distractions and supports your focus.

  • Set clear goals for your activity and break it down into manageable steps.

  • Choose activities that you find inherently enjoyable and that challenge you just the right amount.

  • Practice self-compassion and be patient with yourself as you learn to cultivate Flow.

Personally, I like to put on some relaxing music, make a brew, and settle into my soft-office (the sofa!) to help me into a Flow state.

While Flow can feel amazing, it's important to be mindful of potential challenges. Sometimes, we can get so absorbed in Flow that we neglect our basic needs like eating, drinking, or taking breaks. It's crucial to listen to your body and create a healthy balance.

For some autistic individuals, the intensity of Flow might also exacerbate sensory sensitivities or make it harder to transition to other tasks. Be gentle with yourself and remember that everyone's experience with Flow is unique.

Flow state is a powerful tool for tapping into our innate potential and finding joy in the things we do. By understanding what Flow is, how it benefits us, and how to cultivate it in our own lives, we can unlock a whole new level of productivity, creativity, and satisfaction.

I hope this post has inspired you to explore Flow in your own life! Feel free to share your experiences or ask any questions in the comments below.

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09 mag
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Great blog post Emy! I love learning more about Flow 🤗

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