Flow

Written by Francine Baffa, LICSW, BCBA-D
Edited by Joe DeNoon

 

“The future of work is emotional. No scripts exist for our most difficult professional interactions.”

― Liz Fosslien, No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work

 

In the book No Hard Feelings, the author leads us on a visual exploration of how-to bring emotions into the workplace without letting them run wild, rather we are guided to how they can enhance both our productivity and flow.

That word “flow” brings many connotations that are important to explore. There’s been a lot of research about flow and “flow state”, yet where did it come from and what does it mean? The idea emerged from positive psychology,  described as “the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive” by the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Researchers have found that, in simple terms, being in a state of flow means total engrossment in an activity or full immersion in whatever you are doing. This brings many benefits that we, as providers of mental health, are interested in exploring further. 

The positive effects of flow can include being more productive and initiating your passion projects. People who can achieve flow state are not only more likely to be happy, but also less likely to experience the negative side effects of unmanaged mental health issues. Thoughts and feelings that generally cloud our minds, such as stress, worry, and self-doubt, take a back seat when we are in flow. 

When someone experiences flow, they might feel like time passes differently, feel less inhibited by their inner critic, and be less self-conscious. Therefore, getting into flow state could help people become better able to handle mental health challenges, such as internal self-criticism, ultimately increasing mental wellness.

You must know yourself and what your optimal environment is to start creating the perfect conditions for a work environment to achieve flow and maintain mental health. “Do something you love, create a ritual, choose your most important task, identify your peak creative and productive times, & eliminate distractions.” 

No Hard Feelings teaches us how to use emotions to our advantage and deal with negative feelings that may stand in the way of our most productive selves.

Here are two of my favorite takeaways from the book:

  1. You can fix demotivation by practicing self-care, being self-compassionate, and expressing your emotions.  
  2. Emotions are a great asset at work and in life if you use them as data to direct behavior and to respond rather than react.

A healthy emotional culture in the workplace makes a difference.  Most of us have gotten used to the idea that mixing our emotions with work is somehow taboo —however, when you begin to listen to, understand, express, and learn from your emotions, you are more likely to experience a richer, more satisfying and productive working life that is aligned with flow and a greater sense of well-being.

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