The concept of “flow” was introduced by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, a Hungarian psychologist who used it to describe the feeling of being so immersed in something that one essentially loses themselves in it (Flowers, 2020). He said that people are happiest when they are in a state of flow and deeply absorbed in what they are doing. Flow is a form of mindfulness, as it involves being completely concentrated on the present moment. When people are in a state of flow, they seem to forget everything else around them, including their problems and worries. This is why experiencing flow causes people to feel free, weightless, and happy overall. Additionally, it has been found that the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for “critical thinking” and “long-term planning”, is at “rest during a flow state” and that implicit memory is in charge (Oppland, 2021). Implicit memory involves the memory of how certain skills are carried out–such as riding a bike or tying your shoelaces. There is no intense thinking that happens when doing something involving implicit memory, and this contributes to the flow state
As pre-med students, finding activities that we can experience “flow” in can be greatly beneficial to our mental health and wellbeing. It is important to find hobbies that we enjoy outside of being pre-med as they can help us release stress and take our minds off of our work. Whether it is cooking, running, or painting, finding something you enjoy in which you can experience “flow” can help to give your mind a refreshing break during times of stress.
Flowers, M. (2020, October 16). How are mindfulness and Flow State Connected? Mindfulness Strategies. Retrieved May 18, 2022, from https://www.mindfulnessstrategies.com/blog/how-are-mindfulness-and-flow-state-connected
Oppland, M. (2021, December 8). 8 ways to create flow according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi . PositivePsychology.com. Retrieved May 18, 2022, from https://positivepsychology.com/mihaly-csikszentmihalyi-father-of-flow/
Written By: Mariam Trichas