Get in the ‘flow’ to prevent the stress that kills

Do you know the name Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced Me-High Chick-Sent-Me-High)?

He’s a Hungarian-born psychology professor, famous for his book entitled Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

Csikszentmihalyi defines flow as “being so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. The ego falls away. Time Flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to experience this state, you know just how wonderful it feels. And, you’re on to something important…

While a flow state is often discussed in relation to productivity and achievement in business, sports, and education, the truth is that getting to that place can actually be a life saver for anyone who learns how to harness its power…

Peak Golden Oil

Helps Your Body Maintain Optimum Immune Balance!


How a flow state lowers stress

When you are in a state of flow, you feel in control. You feel more competent. You’re not worrying about how you’re doing, who’s judging you, or what you’ll have to do next.

But it’s more than that. Research has actually found measurable benefits to being in this absorbed state.

A group of German researchers examined the relationship between stress and the flow experience. They were looking for actual physiological effects on stress.

Twenty-two males were given a social stress test, then asked to perform a complex computer task for one hour. After completing the task, they rated their flow experience.

During the experiment, samples of the stress hormone cortisol were taken every fifteen minutes, and heart rate changes were monitored.

The deeper the flow state of the participants, the more their parasympathetic nervous system was engaged.

Our parasympathetic nervous system regulates and monitors most of our body’s routine processes, including digestion, urination and sexual arousal.

What’s important here, though is that it also counteracts the “fight-or-flight” reaction, slowing heart rate and lowering blood pressure immediately after a stressful event.

In other words, getting into a state of flow is a natural way to prevent hypertension and stress-related heart attacks and strokes.

How to get in the ‘flow’

People have many ways to describe being in a state of flow. There are both physical and emotional clues that let you know you’re there.

A Harvard Medical School report on positive psychology lists six characteristics of a flow state:

  1. You lose awareness of time. Hours pass like minutes.
  2. You aren’t thinking about yourself. The only self-consciousness is in relation to performing the task at hand, for example, the position of your hands on the keyboard or your body as you surf.
  3. You aren’t interrupted by extraneous thoughts. You are entirely focused on the activity, with no internal chatter about anything else.
  4. You are active. Not necessarily physically, but you are taking control of what you’re doing. Flow is never a passive state.
  5. You work effortlessly. You may be working hard, but there is no struggle. Things are “clicking.”
  6. You would like to repeat the experience.

In a landmark study, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi found that flow-producing situations during leisure time occurred less than one-third as often as they did during work.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. We can all learn to benefit from achieving a flow state.

How? Whether you’re painting, playing tennis, or doing a craft project, here are some concepts you can apply:

  • Try to surprise yourself. Be open to discovering new things about your abilities.
  • Choose challenging activities, and don’t be afraid to fail.
  • Pay attention to your body. You’ll get to know what it feels like to be in flow.
  • Accept nervousness when trying something new, but move past it.
  • Don’t stop. Stopping yourself at every missed shot or smeared bit of paint will interrupt the flow state. Keep going.
  • Keep a sense of humor. Flow is incompatible with stress and anxiety.

Editor’s note: Have you heard of EDTA chelation therapy? It was developed originally to remove lead and other contaminants, including heavy metals, from the body. Its uses now run the gamut from varicose veins to circulation. Click here to discover Chelation: Natural Miracle for Protecting Your Heart and Enhancing Your Health!


  1. 5 Steps to Cultivate a State of Flow and Positive Emotionality —
  2. The benefits of flow — The Positive Psychlopedia
  3. Go with the flow: engagement and concentration are key — Harvard Health Blog
  4. The relation of flow-experience and physiological arousal under stress — Can u shape it?Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
  5. Parasympathetic Nervous System — GoodTherapy
Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.