Finding Flow When You Leave Treatment

Oct 18, 2021

Many people use drugs or alcohol to numb the pain and chaos of life. Sadly, substance abuse only creates more misery and confusion. Back when you were struggling to get sober, your tank was empty. You were physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained. The only thing you could concentrate on was holding back the desire to become intoxicated.

Now that you’ve completed residential treatment, you have the energy, confidence, and clarity of mind to embrace all of the wonderful things that life has to offer. This article will explain how you can cultivate a state of mind called the flow state and how it can help you throughout recovery.

Understanding the Flow State

You’ve probably heard the sayings “go with the flow” or “get in the zone.” Flow is a state of mind where you are totally focused and immersed in the activity in front of you. Your ego disintegrates, and time slips away. Even if you’re tired or a show is playing in the background; you don’t notice. All of your physical and mental energy is dedicated to the task at hand. If you’ve ever experienced this state of mind, you’ll remember the way it made you feel: deeply connected, committed, and centered.

Some martial artists explain the flow state as zoning out. You’re not thinking about what moves to execute; you just respond to your partner with grace and ease. Each transition is intuitive and almost effortless. You subconsciously know what’s coming next, and the anxiety of the unknown dissipates.

The flow state is also central to the ancient Taoist philosophy of wu wei. Although the wu wei literally means non-doing or non-action, the concept, according to Britannica, “refers to the cultivation of a state of being in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the ebb and flow of the elemental cycles of the natural world.” Similar ideas are found in Buddhist, Taoist, and Hindu literature.

Cultivating Flow Can Support Recovery 

Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi first described the psychological concept of flow in his 1990 book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Alongside other researchers, his work has demonstrated the many benefits of tapping into the zone.

When you find your flow, you may experience improved intuition, attention span, and creativity; higher levels of concentration and productivity; positive emotions like satisfaction, happiness, and feeling alive; the development of new skills; and an overall improved sense of wellbeing.

Dopamine has also been found to increase in the brain during flow states. This neurochemical is extremely important in addiction research as it is central to brain circuits involved in pleasure and motivation. These are important benefits that can help support your recovery journey.

Characteristics of Activities That Induce Flow

According to a recent study, activities that provoke a flow state will have most of the below characteristics. Consider your hobbies to determine if they can help you tap into the zone.

Does the activity:

  • Have clear goals?
  • Offer challenges, but is it doable based on your skills?
  • Intrinsically motivate and reward you?
  • Provide immediate feedback?
  • Make you hyper-focus?
  • Cause you to temporarily lose self-awareness?
  • Cause you to lose track of time?
  • Give you a sense of control?
  • Result in your actions being automatic?
  • Consume your attention completely?

How You Can Get in the Zone 

At this point, you may be eager to start cultivating your own flow. Because the flow state requires your utmost attention and focus, it’ll be critical to clear your mind. One way you can do this is by conducting a mind sweep. Get out a piece of paper and write down anything that’s bothering you or that you need to get done. Is there anything that must get done right away, or can it wait until later? Anything that comes to your mind, you can get it out of your head by writing it down.

Another tip that may help is decluttering and eliminating anything in your environment that’ll distract you. Organize your space, silence your phone, and use the bathroom. Will you need a drink or meal soon? Make sure you take care of your needs now, so you are not interrupted while in the zone. If you have housemates, let them know you can’t be disturbed.

Now you are free to decide on a task. How do you like spending your time? What makes you feel accomplished? The activity shouldn’t be too easy, nor should it be too challenging. Chess, drawing, reading, and puzzles are some examples that require deep concentration. If you’re active and would rather play sports, the good news is that they have also been found to induce the flow state. Whatever you choose, make sure they have most of the characteristics listed above.

Flow is a state of mind where you are totally focused and immersed in the activity in front of you. It fosters many benefits that can help support your recovery journey. For many years, Renaissance Ranch has treated men struggling with various drug and alcohol addictions. Once you’ve completed a residential treatment program, you can enroll in our outpatient and sober living programs. They can provide you with the skills, structure, and support you need to start living independently. We offer a variety of counseling services, some of which will teach you how to find your flow through meditation and relaxation techniques. Finding daily activities that tap into this mental state can help you face challenges, learn new skills, and feel accomplished. We are here to empower you and help you reclaim control of your own mind, body, and spirit. Please don’t hesitate to call our office at (801) 308-8898 to learn how we can help you.