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Why Mental Health Is Important for men

Why Mental Health Is Important for men

According to Mental Health America, 6 million men suffer from depression every year. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s findings on mental health in 2017 also indicates that men die by suicide at a higher rate than women every year. In fact, suicide and depression rank as the leading causes of death for men.

When a man is mentally ill, the effects can be devastating. Besides the threat of taking his life, he might also try harmful coping strategies like drugs and alcohol, which may cause physical health diseases like liver problems, brain damage, and premature death. Every year, 62,000 men die due to alcohol-related causes, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Because most men who are mentally ill don’t look for help, many cases of mental illnesses in men remain undiagnosed. For the family members and loved ones of such a man, relating with him can be emotionally draining, exhausting, and painful.

However, this doesn’t mean that a mental illness diagnosis provides soothing relief. Many times, it also attracts stress and anxiety for his loved ones. They must learn to communicate in a supportive way while dedicating time to getting him adequate support. Despite this, a diagnosis is still the start of the journey towards healing.

What is Mental health?

When a man’s emotional, psychological, or social life hits bottom and begins to spiral out of his control, it’s appropriate to assume that he needs support with his mental health.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC),” Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”

Seeking support for mental health challenges doesn’t indicate a lack of will or laziness. In many ways, mental illnesses are just like physical illnesses. Just as more exposure to bacteria doesn’t cure a cold, listening to more adrenaline-pumping speeches won’t heal a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Common Types of Mental Health Challenges Men Face

 1. Depression. This condition keeps men feeling low and drained, emotionally and psychologically. When undiagnosed and untreated, depression might trigger worse outcomes like feelings of suicide.

2. Anxiety Disorder. This condition is synonymous with uncontrollable feelings of fear, an emotion that society teaches men to conceal or bury. Yet, many still struggle with different variations of anxiety – social anxiety disorder (SAD) which causes intense fear in social situations, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a condition characterized by the desire to repeat a series of habits to feel safe.

3. Substance Abuse or Dependence. Sometimes, substance abuse is portrayed in culture and media as “a normal way for men to deal with pain and frustration.” But using drugs or any substance unhealthily is a symptom of deeper mental health issues.

4. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), PTSD is “a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma… Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger.”

Warning Signs that a Man Is Mentally Ill

  • An obsessive desire to use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with trauma.
  • A persistent feeling of sadness, hopelessness, or self-hate.
  • Having high levels of irritability and anger.
  • Inability to recover from trauma.
  • Constantly thinking about suicide.
  • High levels of social anxiety.

What Men With Mental Health Challenges Should Do

  1. Consult a mental health therapist. A professional will tell if the symptoms you’re facing indicate a mental illness and what steps you should take afterward.
  2. Join a support group consisting of members who have experienced mental illness. Depending on your schedule, location and preference, these groups can be in-person or virtual. Your group members can help you stand firm in a society where mental illness is stigmatized.
  3. Open up to friends who are knowledgeable about mental health and want the best for you.
  4. Build a network of friends and acquaintances whose expectations of masculinity don’t match toxic masculine norms and patriarchal standards.
  5. Start living a healthy lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet, avoid unhealthy food and get the recommended amount of sleep. Avoid the company of toxic people and trolls, both online and in person. 

helping others

When a loved one’s illness is diagnosed as a mental condition, it’s normal to feel worried. But there’s a bright light – recovery is possible if there’s adequate support. Here’s how to help:

  1. Learn more about mental health. After a few minutes of studying, from blogs like this or through a therapist, you’ll be able to impact their lives more positively.
  2. Be observant. Watch out for mood changes.
  3. If possible, offer to help them find a therapist and support groups.
  4. Be positive at all times. Many who struggle with mental illnesses already have feelings of anxiety and sadness. Avoid saying or doing anything that can dampen their mood.
  5. Stay healthy. You can’t offer much help if you’re not emotionally or psychologically healthy.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, it may be time to reach out for help. Contact us to schedule your first session.

How To Cope With The Suicide Of A Loved One

How To Cope With The Suicide Of A Loved One

Few things are worse than a suicide loss. Many survivors face long bouts of compounded grief, anxiety, and shame that can last for many years.

If the deceased is a child, they may worry about their parental abilities or the perceived lack of it; and if it contributed to their child’s suicide.

As an example, let’s consider Dale’s story (which we found in the comment section of this article).

Dale’s only son took his life when he was 16. The boy had been the center of a parental rights battle when he was only a few months old. His father won the case but celebrations were short-lived.

When the boy was five, he started showing signs of emotional distress. And at 10, he became depressed.

“We went (sic) to many hospitals across the state and saw (sic) so many counselors and psychiatrists, and (sic) tried all kinds of family counseling. I loved my boy.” Dale wrote in the comment section.

Eventually, the boy took his life.

“When the Nurses asked if I had friends to call, I broke down. I realized there was no one. He was my best friend… I am struggling every day… Please help me.” Dale added.

Although there was no indication that the custody battle contributed to the tragedy, it’s not far-fetched to imagine Dale making the connection.

Indeed, many survivors blame themselves for their child’s suicide. If they’re religious, they might accuse themselves of leading the child to eternal damnation. It could happen to anyone, including you.

Can Time Heal this Hurt?

Some families think that keeping mum about a loved one’s suicide is the way forward. This idea is the leftover of an era where mental health and suicide were stigmatized in the media and among health professionals. But as time has shown, tactics like this are unhelpful and dangerous.

Mariel is the granddaughter of famed novelist Ernest Hemingway who killed himself in 1961. It wasn’t the first suicide in the Hemingway family, and it wouldn’t be the last. Thirty-three years earlier, the elder Hemingway had also died of suicide. There was a problem but little information on how to solve it.

As Mariel notes, her family concealed their struggles with mental health problems and suicides from her while she was a child. When one of her sisters was institutionalized due to schizophrenia, they told Mariel that she was in college.

Eventually, Mariel’s older sister died of a suicidal drug overdose in 1996. Concealing the issue hadn’t solved the problem. Instead, it handicapped Mariel and her siblings, making them unable to deal with the overwhelming pain that a loved one’s suicide can leave behind.

Mariel says she eventually found some peace when she visited the Dalai Lama at 45. Today, she’s a mental health advocate.

Those who take a divergent route from Mariel’s by bottling their emotions and expecting time to heal their wounds are at risk of the following:

  1. Depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  2. Compounded grief.
  3. Inability to pursue meaningful work.
  4. Blinding anger and confusion.
  5. Destruction of family relationships.
  6. Loss of desire to keep living.

8 Ways To Heal the PAIN Caused By A Loved One’s Suicide

1. Don’t use negative coping strategies like drugs or alcohol to deal with the pain. You can only get a temporary or false sense of relief. Instead, prioritize self-care.

2. Consult a psychologist specializing in depression, addiction, and mental health. While some family members and friends may want to support you, most won’t know how to. Even family members who have survived a suicide loss aren’t equipped to help you through this. You need a licensed psychologist.

3. Grieve without feeling shame. Don’t be boxed into societal and cultural expectations of how you’re supposed to mourn. No one truly understands your relationship with your loved one so they can’t tell you how to mourn.

4. Choose your support system wisely. Distance yourself from any family member, friend, or religious colleague who says, “There are so many other people who have it worse.” or “That was a selfish act.” While some may bear no ill intent when using such words, the impact will remain the same: reopening of emotional scars. That’s why you’ll need support from people who’re not just willing to help but are also knowledgeable on suicide loss.

5. Join a support group. Ideally, this group should comprise others who’ve also lost a loved one to suicide. Meeting and sharing experiences with others can help you find the strength and wisdom you need to navigate the pain.

6. Reduce your time on social media. Not everyone on social media understands what you’re facing. Some may condemn you for being a bad parent while others may condemn your loved one for taking his life. You should regulate your use of social media and limit participation to closed groups.

7. Express your pain through art. You can write a journal about your feelings, fears, and thoughts or a poem celebrating your loved one’s life. You can find healing by channeling your pain and frustrations into something positive. Learn about art therapy here.

8. Volunteer to help others. By sharing your experiences and knowledge with others, you can rekindle the motivation to live and impact the world positively.

Surviving the suicide of a loved one may feel like an impossible hill to climb but it’s doable. With support from the right people, you can still live your best life yet. Contact us to get help from licensed psychologists who can help you through this period.

Is It Possible To Get Seasonal Affective Disorder in the Spring?

Is It Possible To Get Seasonal Affective Disorder in the Spring?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly (and humorously) abbreviated as SAD, is a mood disorder characterized by spikes in sadness occurring around the same time every year. The disorder is titled as such due to the sadness typically coming around with the changing of the seasons. Seasonal Affective Disorder is often brushed off as “the winter blues” or “being a bit more tired when it’s cold”. However, this condition can worsen over time and symptoms shouldn’t be ignored. 

The phenomenon of sadness that occurs with the changing of the seasons is incredibly common in both population and frequency. Hundreds of thousands of people across the world deal with the fluctuation of emotions in accordance with the seasons every year. Upon realizing the issue was seasonal and recurring, doctors termed it Seasonal Affective Disorder a few decades ago. Most often, this disorder affects people in climates that bear four distinct seasons. People living in temperate climates that experience sharp drops in temperature and light during winter identify lingering feelings of sadness, fatigue and social withdrawal. These feelings tend to persist until the spring when the cold breaks for the year or until the person seeks treatment for these symptoms.

Seasonal affective disorder manifests as depression during winter most often, with these symptoms being alleviated with the blooming of spring in the person’s environment. Since this disorder is dependent on the changing of the seasons, the symptoms tend to ebb and flow mirroring the natural elapsing of the seasons. With the depressed mood and actions typically affecting people in the winter, the beginning of spring brings more energy as well as improvements in mood. Most people affected by winter depression often spend the coldest months waiting for the warmth and sunlight of spring to return. Even without treatment, the absence of the extreme cold and darkness of winter typically helps to alleviate symptoms.

However, Seasonal Affective Disorder does not always follow this pattern of sadness in winter with joy returning in the spring. While most people suffering from this illness recognise depressive symptoms in the colder parts of the year, there are also people who are seasonally afflicted with marked declines in mood and energy during warmer months. While winter depression offers a clear correlation between oppressive weather conditions and downwards trends in mood and energy, Seasonal Affective Disorder in warmer months is often a bit harder for people to understand. Symptoms of depression in the winter can often look like listlessness, increasing fatigue and sluggish behaviour in patterns similar to those observed in animals that hibernate. Conversely, symptoms of depression during spring and summer can look like insomnia, irritability, a lack of appetite and restlessness.

Doctors are still unsure about what causes symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder in the warmer seasons of the year but the foremost theories give precedence to the longer days and the constant light and warmth negatively affecting people that are sensitive to these weather conditions because of pre-existing health issues or other comorbid mental illnesses like bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder. As it exists, however, there are ways that people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder in warmer months can alleviate the worst of their symptoms. This often looks like altering their routine to get things done when they have more energy (for example, following a nocturnal pattern); it may also look like people setting reminders to eat and taking sleep aids (melatonin or a prescribed sedative) to ensure they get enough rest.

Tips for coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder are often similar regardless of the afflicted season. These can include:

●  Seeing a mental health professional – People often neglect to take their symptoms of SAD to a doctor since they are used to simply waiting for the sadness and fatigue to pass. However, trained professionals see this disorder frequently and are equipped to help.

●  Setting alarms and reminders to help maintain routine – Having reminders to eat, drink water and rest can help immensely towards coping with SAD. The maintenance of a routine even in the face of an unfriendly season is essential for coping through undesirable symptoms.

●  Opening up about suffering to loved ones – Much like any other mood disorder or mental health crisis, SAD can often feel like a burden to bear alone. Talking to someone, whether it be a loved one or someone afflicted with the same condition, can offer insights as to the frequency of this disorder and remind the person suffering that SAD is not only common, but very treatable.

Whether healing looks like getting a sun lamp in the winter or sleeping through the hottest hours of the day during the summer, Seasonal Affective Disorder is fixable with the right coping skills. Contact us to discuss the best strategy for your ongoing mental wellbeing.

This Is How Mental Health Is Different For Women

This Is How Mental Health Is Different For Women

March is Women’s History Month – a celebration of the invaluable contributions that women have made to the world. It’s also a time to acknowledge the challenges that are unique to women and advocate for a better quality of life for women everywhere. A large part of this is ensuring that women are healthy – physically, mentally and emotionally. 

Societal Factors Affecting Women’s Mental Health

Social and biological understandings of gender affect everything about the way we live our lives. The category of gender influences everything from the ways we dress and the way we use language all the way to health and the ways in which people are treated and diagnosed. Differences along gender lines are increasingly evident with regard to the ways in which doctors diagnose and treat mental health issues. Disparities in mental healthcare due to gender both benefit and harm women, due to the symptoms presented. 

For example, while women are more likely to be diagnosed with mood disorders, they are less likely to be diagnosed with developmental disorders. This means that illnesses like borderline personality disorder (BPD) are viewed as illnesses that disproportionately affect women, while mental issues like autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are underdiagnosed in women and are seen to typically affect men. To sufficiently understand the ways in which gender tends to obscure and influence the ways we treat mental health, it’s essential to understand gender as a social classification that is then projected onto biological knowledge in order to assign secondary sex characteristics to gendered experiences.

When it comes to how we have historically understood health, gender has stratified standards for illness and/or wellness to a considerable degree. An example is the dominant beauty standards for each gender. In a world where men are supposed to be strong and physical and women are expected to be demure and as small as possible, the pursuit of thinness (and the avoidance of existing in a larger body) is seen as necessary for women to acquire the social currency of desirability. This leads to unstable and dangerous ideas of body image and often results in restrictive eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.

Women and the Pressure to “Do It All”

The societal pressure on women to “do it all” is a huge factor to consider. Women are expected to be the perfect wife, mother, caretaker and friend, all while balancing a successful career.  These are all roles that call women to be in service and to neglect their own needs and self-care. This expectation that women should prioritize others over themselves leads to many women experiencing chronic anxiety as well as prolonged depressive symptoms. The adherence (or lack thereof) to unrealistic standards also opens women up to gender-based violence that often results in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

While not all women desire to be mothers, there is certainly an expectation of it. Women are often subjected to invasive questions about their reproductive choices. For women who have experienced miscarriages or are facing infertility, these questions can be incredibly painful. Cisgender women also deal with mental health conditions surrounding menstruation like Poly Cystic Ovarian Symptom (PCOS) and endometriosis, both of which have negative effects on mental and emotional health. Mental illness conditions influenced by hormones include PMDD (Pre Menstrual Depressive Disorder) and PMS (Pre Menstrual Syndrome) which can cause feelings of depression and even suicidal ideation.

Pregnancy and childbirth are also very taxing to the mind and body due to physical requirements and the mental and emotional changes that come with pregnancy hormones. contributed by hormones and shifting levels of dopamine and oxytocin in the body. This means Conversely, trans women deal with mental illness at similar rates. This may look like PTSD from gender-based violence as well as BDD (Body Dysmorphia Disorder) or even self-injurious tendencies due to consistent gender dysphoria. Patterns of being misgendered and discriminated against due to societal transphobia puts trans women at greater risk for Major Depressive Disorder as well as Generalised Anxiety Disorder, both of which are chronic conditions that only get worse without treatment over time. Due to misogynistic standards about what women ought to look and behave like, trans women are also at risk for restrictive eating disorders as they try to fit into archaic and dangerous standards of gender.

Improving mental health for women

Similar notions of how people on the basis of gender ought to respond to emotions structure the ways that we take care of our mental health. As such, women are more likely to seek mental healthcare by going to therapy, taking prescribed medication, etcetera. However, addressing the failing mental health of women starts at the societal level. Any sincere attention to address women’s mental health has to start with the following:

  • ●  Acknowledgement of the harm caused by common gender standards – Under patriarchy, women are asked to live up to expectations that are unrealistic and contrived. The dismantling of these and the shift to a focus on women’s autonomy is necessary for women’s mental wellness.
  • ●  Societal support systems – Women need safe spaces to discuss the ways in which patriarchy and gender-based violence have impacted them and influenced their mental health. While cis and trans women have different personal experiences, both kinds of women need a community that prioritises healing.

● An abolition of gendered labour – Even today, with women owning companies and being in high management, they are still expected to bear the brunt of domestic labour with housework and child rearing still being widely seen as “women’s work”.

The mental health of women suffers under structures like patriarchy, misogyny and transphobia. The ways in which gender influences the mental health of those oppressed along the axis of gender cannot be overstated. If the intention is to improve the collective mental health of women, the initiatives have to centre self-determination, societal support and the freedom for women to tell their stories.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, it may be time to reach out for help. Contact us to schedule your first session.

How To Use DBT Skills To Prevent Self-Injury

How To Use DBT Skills To Prevent Self-Injury

Trigger warning: Some of the information in this article might be disturbing and bring up negative feelings. Reader discretion is advised.

The global pandemic continues to rage on, with over 435 million cases worldwide and almost 6 million lives lost. With illness and death hitting so close to home for many, research shows that signs of mental illness and strain have increased in people from all age groups. Unfortunately, the presence of different mental health conditions can lead down the path of self-injury as a way to cope with stress, loneliness and negative thoughts and feelings. 

For those dealing with self-injury urges, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) can prove to be a useful and effective coping strategy. Even if you aren’t ready to begin seeing a therapist, you can learn DBT skills on your own. When you’re ready to begin treatment for self-injury, your therapist can help you to strengthen your skills.  

For the past twenty years, March 1 has been internationally recognized as Self-Injury Awareness Day and is represented by an orange ribbon that signifies hope. In the United States alone, yearly self-injury numbers among women and girls are as high as one in five; and one in seven among men and boys with almost 2 million reported cases. 

What Is Self-Injury?

Self-injury falls under the group of actions considered self-harm behaviors and occurs when a person deliberately hurts or harms themself. Acts of self-injury can include skin cutting, head banging, ingesting harmful substances, repeatedly punching self or objects, deliberately breaking bones and other forms of self mutilation. This kind of coping mechanism is usually more common in adolescents and young adults with 50% of reported cases starting at fourteen years old. Though it is rare, acts of self-injury can be present in children as well. It’s important to note that self-injury does not always end in suicide nor is it a definite indicator that a person has suicidal tendencies. 

There are different reasons for self-injury, none of which you should be ashamed of if you’ve ever chosen to injure yourself. Self-injury can come about as a way to express or deal with difficult emotions, cope with low self esteem, as a result of mental illness or as a way to have some kind of control over one’s own body when it feels like control is not present in any other area of life. In order to be diagnosed as a person who self-injures, it’s recommended that you speak to a therapist or mental health professional and share your experience. 

The different mental health conditions that can contribute to thoughts of self-injury include (but are not limited to) personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. If you suspect you are living with any of these conditions and want to learn more or find out if they are linked to your tendency to self-injure, you can contact us to schedule a consultation

DBT Is An Effective Tool for Preventing Self-Injury

There are several different ways to manage the negative feelings that lead you to think about harming yourself. Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT is a kind of therapy done collaboratively to bring about positive changes in the life of the affected person. Essentially, DBT combines a number of different core strategies and actions to help you manage difficult emotions and improve your coping skills, relationships and quality of life. This kind of therapy can be done individually (in person or over the phone) or in a group. Effective DBT can bring about acceptance and change in behavior, cognition and skills.

If you opt to undergo DBT, you may need to dedicate time to learning and improving upon skills like mindfulness, distress intolerance, emotion regulation and interpersonal evaluation. All of those can be used when the urge to self-harm arises. Each component of DBT has a variety of methods to help with grounding. 

  • Mindfulness – In order to practice mindfulness, it’s best to use the 6 main mindfulness skills. These are observation, description, participation, non-judgment, single-tasking and focusing on effectiveness. When you take the time to observe, this means you are taking in what’s happening around you and trying to find the root of your trigger. After you have done so, it’s time to move on to describing what you are experiencing. These two actions can happen at the same time and are key parts of the mindfulness process. Participation will have you being present and fully immersed in the activity you are doing to calm yourself, whatever it may be. Reducing judgmental thoughts is also key in the mindfulness process, as releasing the idea of good and bad emotions can help you to see your feelings as they are instead of assigning a meaning to them before you’ve figured them out. Single-tasking or the ‘one mind technique’ is focusing on one thing at a time instead of overstimulating your mind and thoughts. Finally, focusing on effectiveness means that you should stick to the techniques and actions that work for you when you are in distress.
  • Distress Tolerance – This part of the therapy teaches you how to cope in times of stress through acceptance. If you’re easily overwhelmed, you might feel that you need to run away from the issue when negative feelings start to come up. While there are times when removing yourself from the situation that distresses you is the best way forward, there are other times when there is no other choice but to go through the experience. For example, if you are stuck in traffic and there is no other way to your destination, distress tolerance can help you to understand that this was not your fault and insert feelings of patience. By going through the motions with acceptance and grace, you can eventually learn how to manage intense or overwhelming feelings. 
  • Emotion Regulation – The practice of emotion regulation aims to help you understand your emotions, reduce emotional vulnerability and reduce suffering due to emotional distress so you can have more good and positive experiences. Non-judgment and acceptance play major roles here. In order to regulate your emotions, you will need to accept that negative ones are natural but they don’t have to consume you or control the situation you are in. Once you are able to understand and label your emotions, you are on your way to being able to regulate them. Actively letting go of negative thoughts and taking action to create positive ones is also a big part of emotion regulation. 
  • Interpersonal Evaluation – The skills learned here helps a person to become more assertive in relationships through introspection and self-awareness. By learning what your needs are through self-evalution, you mayclear and honest communucation, you may be better able to let the people around you know what you need while working on reducing whatever emotion that would have pushed you to harm yourself in the first place. 

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is a very effective therapy treatment that is well researched and evidence-based. DBT can help not only with self-injury, but also with improving your way of being in relationships and can help you learn ways to soothe yourself when you feel distressed. The therapists at Flourish Psychology are trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and other treatment modalities. We can help you see that you’re stronger than your self-injury urges and teach you tools to use such as mindfulness, nonjudgmental thinking, and acceptance. Contact us to schedule a consultation.

Live Your Best Work Life with the ‘Flow’ State

Live Your Best Work Life with the ‘Flow’ State

Have you ever gotten so lost in a task that time seemed to fly? You’re totally immersed in that article, spreadsheet or report and it brings a feeling of excitement and accomplishment. You’ve probably also noticed that you do your best work while you’re in this state.  In positive psychology, it’s known as the state of flow. 

You don’t need to be in a work environment to achieve flow. It’s a state of mind that is universal and can be experienced during many types of activities. You can experience flow during a workout, while doing chores or reading a book. Hobbies that inspire a state of flow include painting, needlework and scrapbooking. 

There are eight factors necessary for a state of flow:

  • Complete concentration on the task;
  • Clarity of goals and reward in mind and immediate feedback;
  • Transformation of time (speeding up);
  • The experience is intrinsically rewarding;
  • Effortlessness and ease;
  • There is a balance between challenge and skills;
  • Actions and awareness are merged, losing self-conscious rumination;
  • There is a feeling of control over the task.

The Flow State in Positive Psychology

Positive psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on improving your quality of life. It’s the scientific study of what makes humans flourish by increasing positive experiences and states of mind. One such state of mind is flow. 

In positive psychology, a “flow state” is a state of mind where you’re fully immersed in the task at hand. You’re excited about what you’re doing and you feel totally energized and focused. You are completely in the present moment and you aren’t watching the clock or thinking about the next task ahead. 

Flow has a number of benefits for your mental and emotional wellbeing. People in this state tend to enjoy their lives on a whole because they find fulfillment in their daily tasks. The flow state brings a sense of accomplishment and reward, which can boost your self-esteem and confidence. A flow state also causes significant performance improvements, regardless of the kind of task you’re performing. 

Ways to achieve a State of flow

The flow state isn’t a happy accident that happens at random. It’s brought about by certain factors and we can learn to intentionally induce a state of flow. 

A foundational element of flow is choosing work that you love. It’s nearly impossible to get into a state of flow while working on tasks that you find boring or are otherwise reluctant to do. Make a list of your daily tasks and identify the ones you enjoy the most. These are the activities most likely to get you in the zone. If your work is primarily comprised of tasks you hate, it may be time to seek out a more fulfilling career. If you’re afraid to take a leap, or unsure of what steps to take in your career, a therapist may be able to help. Work is a big part of our lives and our overall wellbeing is improved when we gain fulfillment and satisfaction from our work. 

After identifying the enjoyable tasks, filter out the ones that you find unimportant or menial. A flow state is more likely to be achieved when you believe that your work is impactful. It’s also a good idea to reserve your flow state for the more important tasks on your todo list. 

In addition to being enjoyable and important, the task needs to be challenging, but not too hard. Easy tasks often lead to boredom and difficult tasks can bring on feelings of frustration. Identify the happy middle by selecting tasks that challenge and excite you. 

When you’re ready to start working on your task, it’s important to optimize your environment. Clear away distractions by silencing notifications and asking colleagues or family members not to interrupt for the next couple of hours. Gather everything that you need to work on the task. Having to pause to look for an item will break your state of flow. If you’d like, have water and a snack nearby, or any other items to make you feel comfortable. 

Multitasking can lead to stress and diminished work performance. Try to focus on one task for as long as possible without switching to something else. Stopping to reply to an email isn’t conducive to your flow state. 

Remember to rest/recharge

A key part of maintaining your state of flow is taking the necessary time to rest and recharge. Taking regular breaks throughout your workday is essential for staying productive and creative. After about an hour, take a fifteen minute break from your task. If you’ve been working at a computer or desk, now is a good time to move your body and rest your eyes. A quick walk or some light stretching can do wonders. You can also use your breaks for simple, practical tasks preparing a snack or refilling your water bottle.  

The work we do is a fundamental part of who we are. Work-related stresses do not stop at the office and may affect your relationships, your home life, and your general mental health. By learning how to occupy the flow state more frequently,  you’re well on your way to a happier and more fulfilling career. 

The therapists at Flourish Psychology understand the impact of a fulfilling career on your overall wellbeing. We want to help you to do your best work so you can live your best life. Our clinicians can provide guidance and support during times of career transition or as you seek to find more balance between your work and personal lives. 

Contact us today to schedule your first session.