You’ve experienced it before. You’re working away on some form of a project and next thing you know, six hours have passed by and when you look in retrospect you barely even remember what you were working on; but somehow you got a ton of work done, and you really don’t even know how. You’ve just experienced getting into the zone, or in the case of this post, a flow state, AKA “A State of Flow.”
Before diving deep into how flow is affecting you at work and at home, let’s take a brief look at what a flow state actually is and then we will break down how you can effectively hack yourself into a state of it.
What Is a Flow State?
Athletes experience flow. They experience it when they’re doing what they love and their focus is so laserlike that they have no choice but to become so hyperinvolved in the task at hand that everything else in their life begins to fade out. Even if it is something that is not entirely amusing to us, if we achieve the state of hyperfocus, it allows us to reach that positive state of flow, and our brains release the neurotransmitters that allow us to feel nothing short of amazing.
More often than not, I talk about how to engage the cortex of your brain so that you can make solid, precise decisions without having to second guess yourself by making decisions from your subconscious. But the simple fact of the matter is that when you are in a flow state, you are not fit to be making important, critical decisions. In fact, quite the opposite, you are in a position to get “in the zone” and get an important task completed. What this means is that we want to turn off the cortex as much as possible and engage the subconscious.
Being in a state of flow is an important part of focus when it comes to one specific task. Don’t get me wrong, focus is important in many aspects of business. In fact, as health conscious businesspeople, it would be valid to say that we spend most of our day trying to be focused on just about everything involved in our business. That being said, the best way to get into a flow state and gain hyperfocus when we want to, would be to choose to work on the things that excite us the most, or at least the things that feel the most productive to us. (I’ve found that businesspeople get solid gratification out of feeling productive, and performing tasks that are productive will allow for an easier entrance into a flow state.)
But how can we use nutrition to help us get into a flow state and get more of our important tasks completed? Here are three quick ways that you can nutritionally prepare yourself to get into a state of hyperflow.
3 Flow State Tips
- Save Coffee for When You Need it—Coffee causes a neurotransmitter release that is similar to what is achieved when you are in a state of flow. The problem, however, is if you begin to build up a tolerance to caffeine, it becomes more and more difficult for the neurotransmitters to do their job correctly and can make it more difficult to get into a flow state. The Optimize CEO approach is all about utilizing coffee to your advantage, but just be sure to use it when you need it the most, and not out of habit.
- Mega Dose Fish Oil the Day of Needing Flow—I’m not talking about the amount that is recommended on the label, but I am talking about loading up and allowing your body to thrive on what you’re providing it in the way of fish oil. The omega-3 fatty acids, specifically the DHA, allow your brain to function more efficiently and also allow you to access portions of your brain that ordinarily wouldn’t be activated.
- Eat Unsweetened Dark Chocolate—Before you get too excited about eating some chocolate, note that we are talking about a small portion of it, and preferably the unsweetened kind that you get in the baking aisle. Dark chocolate contains components that stimulate serotonin and norepinephrine (more of those feel-good flow hormones) that can help us get into a flow state sooner.
Above all else, the proper nutrition to get you into a flow state of mind can only help you so much without the right frame of mind. Before teeing up your nutrition for a state of focus, keep in mind that you should eliminate all of the tasks that would otherwise occupy space in your mind. This includes that pile of emails you need to sort or pesky items on your to-do list.
Reaching the ultimate state of human performance, in both business and in health requires the right nutrition that is completely against the grain of what we hear day in and day out. As people in business, we respond to a different degree of stressors day in and day out, and it’s harder to achieve an optimum state of focus; which is all the more reason why proper nutrition is absolutely critical.