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Flow states and the benefit of creating flow beyond sports

The concept of Flow is nothing new, and engaging in sport-related activities is one of the easiest ways to experience flow whether we intend to or not. Flow is a state of peace and joy around the task or challenge at hand.  When we are in flow we lose track of time as the stress of the challenge we are facing is matched by our skills, and before we know it hours have passed and the progress we have achieved seems to have happened almost effortlessly. Have you ever experienced something like this?


We have all heard of the runner’s high, right? The runner’s high illustrates the experience of flow very clearly, and we can apply this experience to almost any type of workout. Perhaps we start out feeling a little sluggish, and we struggle to get out the door or to get our body moving. Then, at some point, we experience a release, and the aches and pains go away as the endorphins (the body’s natural painkiller) start to flow through the bloodstream. Next, we reach that high as the dopamine kick in, and we experience the joy of working out. What a feeling! And what do we need to do next?  We need to recover.


We can experience flow is all areas of our lives, although it is not always as easy to access.  Perhaps you have been at work preparing for a big presentation, and before you knew it, the presentation was done, and you were feeling some of those same exhilarating emotions. Flow has the ability to increase creativity, productivity, and enjoyment, among other things, and who doesn’t want more of that?


If you just said, “I do!” then I will ask if you know that you can create this experience intentionally? We can train ourselves to recognize the stages of flow outlined in the second paragraph and intentionally create it in almost any area of life, and as athletes this can be beneficial in numerous ways beyond just the benefits like increased productivity.


Dopamine is addictive. When we experience it, we want more. Athletes constantly experience it through exercise and through goal pursuit. When we take a break from exercise (which is necessary in transitions in our athletic careers, during times of injury, and at various times in our meso- and macrocycles for recovery) or after we achieve that big goal the dopamine stops, and we experience a low. Creating flow outside of sport may help balance and sustain us through the ups and downs of training and racing, as well as the ups and downs of life.


If you would like to learn more about creating intentional flow states in your life reach out to Coach Brad.

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