Do you feel like you’ve lost a piece of your identity, happiness, or self-worth?
Many people have experienced a loss of identity since the pandemic. With social distancing in place, socializing with others is a challenge, as well as participating in activities once enjoyed. For those people affected by this loss, there is a sense of simply existing – just moving through the motions of day-to-day life.
But this sense of existing is not beneficial for our happiness or self-identity.
As restrictions are being lifted, many people are finding that they’re lost. They’ve become disengaged with hobbies and activities that bring enjoyment. In psychology, this is termed flow.
Flow is a term found in psychology and was coined by the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in 1975. He defines flow as a complete immersion in an activity.
In everyday terminology, flow is described as “in the moment,” “in the groove,” “hitting my stride,” or “in the zone.”
When a person is in a state of flow, there are several key experiences a person reports.
- It occurs when realistic yet challenging goals are set.
- It usually requires learning new skills.
- It Provides immediate and clear feedback on how they are doing.
- They have a sense of control over the situation.
- They experience time distortion.
- They lose sight of anxieties and worries.
- They have a sense of accomplishment and unity with the activity.
Finding our flow can benefit us emotionally and psychologically in many ways. Here are a few ways that finding flow can help us feel more happy and satisfied in life.
Improved Emotional Regulation – coping with our emotions and learning how to manage them effectively is an important skill to master. Without regulation, daily stressors can become overbearing and negatively impact our health physically and emotionally. Being able to regulate our emotions also improves focus, impulse control, and problem-solving skills.
Improved enjoyment and fulfillment– When we take pleasure in an activity, we find greater happiness and a sense of anticipation to return to the task we enjoy doing. In essence, the enjoyable task provides a reward in our life.
Improved Motivation– When you find something you’re good at and love to do, you want to spend more time doing it and learning how to improve at it. It creates a sense of satisfaction when we accomplish these goals we set upon ourselves.
Increased Engagement– Finding a task you love provides purpose and focus. It can also enrich your relationship with others by providing a topic to discuss with others.
Increased Performance and learning– related to increased motivation, doing a task you love or enjoy encourages you to perform better by growing and enhancing skills.
Increases Creativity– Finding fulfillment in an activity can make you think more clearly and effectively to solve problems and gain a new perspective.
Scientists have studied what happens in the brain with MRIs and CT scans when a person enters a state of flow. While nothing is 100% proven, researchers have found that when a person enters a state of flow, there is increased activity in the areas of the brain associated with memory, consciousness, and attention. They also believe that dopamine release is increased, which can create a sense of pleasure and reward, increasing the likelihood of repeating a behavior.
Hobbies that you enjoy doing are a great way to start to rediscover your flow. As the world is beginning to open up, returning to activities you previously enjoyed doing may be an excellent place to start.
Some activities you may consider to start your journey to flow could be:
- Reuniting with Friends
- Game night
When you do find your flow, happiness, joy, and self-identity will be reunited. So often, we get caught up in the day-to-day grind of life and forget to prioritize ourselves and our happiness. But to be truly happy, we need to find the balance between our daily responsibilities and the things that bring us joy and self-fulfillment.
If you’re experiencing difficulty finding the joy and happiness in your life or just feel bogged down with daily responsibilities, reach out to Embody’s Health and Wellness Coaching. We can help you learn strategies to cope and rediscover yourself and find your flow.