The Wonderful Mental State That Reduces Stress (M)

My friend and long-time colleague, Jim Kouzes, sent me the article below, from a recent edition of PsyBlog. Given the world we are living in today, it offers some fascinating insights on reducing the kinds of stress you may be feeling. Hope you enjoy.


The Wonderful Mental State That Reduces Stress (M)

The state can reduce the effects of stress, such as those felt by people during a quarantine.

A flow state helps to reduce the effects of stress, such as those felt by people during a quarantine, new research finds.

A Flow state — sometimes known as being ‘in the zone’ — is the experience of being fully engaged with what you’re currently doing.

Many activities can provide flow states — in fact anything that engages the attention, stretches your skills a little and that you are doing for its own sake.

When you’re in a flow state:

  • an hour can pass in the blink of an eye,
  • you feel what you are doing is important,
  • you’re not self-conscious,
  • action and awareness merges,
  • you feel in full control,
  • and the experience is intrinsically rewarding.

The latest results come from a study of 5,115 people in China.

They were asked about their experiences of mindfulness and flow.

Researchers found that people who quarantined for longer had worse mental health, except for those who experienced more flow states.

Mindfulness was also helpful, but not as powerful as flow states in warding off stress.

The study’s’ authors write:

“In a sample collected via social media in February 2020 in China, experiencing “ow and mindfulness was associated with better well-being.

More interestingly, whether people were in quarantine was irrelevant for well-being among people who experienced a lot of flow in the previous week, but the same was not true for mindfulness.”

Getting into a flow state

To create a flow experience, you need:

  • to be internally motivated, i.e. you are doing the activity mainly for its own sake,
  • the task should stretch your skills almost to the limits, but not so much that it makes you too anxious,
  • there should be clear short-term goals for what you are trying to achieve,
  • and you should get immediate feedback on how you are doing, i.e. you can see how the painting, photo, blog post etc. is turning out.

About the author

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.

He has been writing about scienti#c research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE (Sweeny et al., 2020).

Share Your Thoughts