When you’re in a state of flow, you know it—things just feel right, positive, and peaceful. At the same time, sustaining that state isn’t always easy, whether it’s due to outside influences (hello, 50-hour work week!) or internal struggles that threaten to disrupt your state of mind. But, says Mama Glow founder and Well+Good Council member Latham Thomas, you can cultivate it—and then make it a non-negotiable part of your overall self-care routine.
Have you ever been so engaged in an activity that your mind goes still, your body moves, and the world expands around you—all at the same time? Suddenly, we’re tapping into this universal energy that’s larger than us.
That state is flow; I call it a glow zone. I think that we can operate from this energy if we take the time to get there. There’s more than one way to engage in flow, and at least one of them can work for you.
Here are 6 ways to reach your personal glow zone in 2018—and beyond.
Move your body
Movement improves your mood, modulates cravings, and energizes your cells. The exercise you partake in should change throughout your menstrual cycle—something like Barry’s Bootcamp is great for when you’re ovulating, but not on the first day of your period, for instance. Find a workout routine that feels satisfying—that way, you’ll look forward to it.
Schedule “off” time
Pay attention to your creativity, your mental acuity, and the ebbs and flows of your energy. There are times of the day when you know that you have a heightened sense of awareness and ideas pour in. Then, other times, somebody can ask you a basic question and you can’t give them an answer because your brain is off. It’s important to know when that is so that you can maximize your productivity.
Then, use that “off” time for creative work, self-discovery, and fun. Your brain doesn’t want to do over-cognitive activities; it wants to do the more ethereal, meditative, or day-dreamy type of stuff. Give yourself the time and space to be able to do that. You get answers when you listen to this intelligence.
Check in with your body
The body is always an arbiter of what you’re facing in any given situation. Whether it’s in the bedroom, the boardroom, or in the mirror, you can tap into your body’s wisdom. It will tell you the truth—always. I always ask questions like, “Does this feel right? Do I really want to do this? Am I honoring my highest good by saying yes?” If I’m afraid of doing something, then I ask myself, “What mindset do I need to be in to lean into this?” That allows me to actually show up for it.
If you could start your days meditating, the clarity that you get from doing it will help carry you. Everybody doesn’t have to meditate the same way. There are different ways of being in a meditation practice. Some people need guided meditation. Some just like silence. Some use sound. Some use mantras. Some pray. You can do whatever works for you, but it should always feel reflective of where you are in your life and what feels good for you.
Do what you love
Flow is also about finding what you love and doing that thing a lot. We’re really good at punishing ourselves, but not so good at rewarding ourselves. And when we do, it’s often through the lens of “I didn’t eat that bad thing, so now I’m going to reward myself.”
A better perspective allows you to build yourself up through a spirit of worthiness. Try looking at things through the lens of “I love myself, I appreciate myself, and my body works so hard. I’m going to give myself this bath so that I can recharge.” If you make time to do what you love, you preserve your energy so that you can operate at the highest functional level.
Play is a really important pathway for pleasure and for staying in that flow. Sure, it could mean organized sports—but it could also simply be something that’s fun, like tickling your niece or drawing or bicycling through a new neighborhood. Whatever it is, take the time to do something that gives you pleasure.
And if you think play is unproductive, think again. Once you give yourself permission to enjoy some time for yourself, here’s what happens: You actually open up space in your brain and sharpen your mental acuity because there’s less stuff sitting on your mind. Yes, there’s productivity on the other side of play—but play has to be the first pathway.
Next week, Latham shares her genius advice on building inner strength. And in the meantime, join the Well+Good community for (Re)New Year—and make 2018 your healthiest, happiest year yet!
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