Getting trapped in flow state
Flow state has become this term lately that we all tend to rightfully praise, it’s an amazing feeling that almost makes you feel limitless. It makes you for a moment forget about life, about yourself and even your own emotions.
Studies have shown that you are 500% more productive, learn 200–500 percent faster, and have a creativity lift of 7x in the “Flow State” than out of it.
I am one of those who easily end up in “flow state” and I can spend hours inside its grasp. It makes me feel amazing, strong and creative. But afterwards, as soon as I step out of that place reality hits me. I could be spending up to 8 hours straight in this state of mind, I forget to eat, forget to take breaks and essentially also forget to live. And this is something we rarely discuss, we praise “flow state” but rarely talk about how to come down from one.
I and a lot of other people tend to think that “flow state” relates to meditation and in a way, whilst you‘re inside you might be feeling like you meditate. But when you reach “flow state” in relation to a goal in life you tend to get overwhelmed by emotions after you leave that state. You start questioning what you have just created, why you spent 6 hours taking a break from life when this song needs to be out in two weeks or this paper needs to be finished tomorrow. You are certain that you created better when you were in that state but you are also not finished with the work at hand.
For me it has helped to realize that “flow state” isn’t always rational, when you let your mind take full control and you are riding along you have to expect it to do weird things, you might rewrite a piece of a paper 10 times or find new angles on a song that wasn’t expected. And you might end up being disappointed that you didn’t do more than you did when in that state. We tend to live in a paradox related to “flow state”, where we think we can control it and plan it ahead. When in reality it plans us and directs us without us fully knowing.
So what you can do and what helped me was to realize that it’s only the things around it that I can truly plan. I can plan for how long I will spend in “flow state” with setting a time limit on it. I can also affect the setting around: I can prepare a list with things I want to get done and I can make sure to do boring things before entering. That way, when I come down from one I can be certain that I don’t have anything else on my table and I can reflect, read a book or hang out with friends to relax.
Although “flow state” seems like meditation you also have to understand that your brain is pushing its limit when inside, this together with the social pressure to succeed might not always go well hand in hand. Take time to reflect on why you chase “flow state” and what those social pressures can be. This way you can prepare and truly experience all the awe-inspiring things “flow state” can do to your life.