• Ali H.

Finding our Flow, Recovery Experiences

Without a doubt, for lots of our teams, the meh feeling has been high on the radar…. People just didn’t feel at their best. The focus was off, and the motivation had dipped. Interestingly, this experience isn’t uncommon, and there is a name for it. Languishing is that middle ground between depression and thriving, it’s that feeling of being blah, joyless and meaningless.

A major challenge with people experiencing languishing, is that they might not notice the dulling of their joy and motivation. Furthermore, research suggests, those who are languishing right now, might be the ones that are more likely to experience major depression and anxiety disorders in the future. So, if a decline in positive mental health is indeed a predictor of risk for mental illness – the question becomes what more can we do to protect, maintain and elevate a positive mental health state.

Not so long ago, we wrote about how designing team recovery was an important factor in the future of our work, with one of the possible options being to explore how and when we detach. However, recovery isn’t always about switching off and relaxing. We can also look at more active ways, and a further opportunity might sit within achieving a flow state. Put simply, in positive psychology, the flow state can be considered as in the zone. In essence, it’s the immersion in an activity that is enjoyable.

When applied to our employee recovery experiences, flow isn’t about relaxation and switching off. Its more active, it’s something we can enter whilst completing an activity that leaves us feeling focused and energised. Flow theory suggests the below components are needed.

  • Intense focus, free from distractions and present in the activity. Absorption in the activity.

  • Intrinsic motivation, the flow activity becomes its own reward

  • There should be a clear goal and progress to the activity.

  • The activity should also provide immediate feedback.

  • Balance between the challenge of the activity and confidence in individual ability.

In terms of our recovery experiences, it’s important that we enable individuals to recover on their terms. Whilst it’s easy to assume switching off completely might be the right approach, enabling recovery might come in the form of flow activities and could provide a significant opportunity in maintaining and elevating a positive mental health state.

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