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So you have been in Flow and have done great things. You have finished a marathon in a personal record time, you have had an amazingly productive team meeting where you effortlessly hammered out aspects of your project, or you have been so engrossed in your hobby that you lost track of time and realized you have been doing what you love for hours longer than you planned. So what do you do now? In this last blog on the Flow Cycle (Struggle, Release, Flow)  we look at the last phase of the cycle and one that is critical to finding Flow again… Recovery.

The final piece of the Flow Cycle is to allow your being (your body, your mind, your soul) time to recover. The better the recovery the more quickly you can get back into the Flow state which brings you alive and helps you succeed as a leader or in any endeavor.  Think about it. Have you ever been so into something that it was effortless, easy, and addicting (a Flow state)? It is exhilarating, but eventually if you keep going, your focus will not be as sharp, mistakes creep in, whatever you were doing will to not be fun. This is because Flow is not a never-ending place to be. All good things must… etc. What you do next is critical to finding that Flow again. So how to recover? Here are places to start.

Sleep:  Seems obvious, but it is critical. Allowing your body to enter into its natural state of rejuvenation is critical to start the Flow Cycle all over again. But, how much sleep? Research, time and again, says that most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep to be at their best. All of the neuro-chemicals produced in Flow such as Anandamide, Norepinephrine, and Dopamine take energy for your body to create and if the body is under stress and cannot replenish them then Flow states will become more and more elusive.

Healthy Eating:  Once again, seems obvious. Which will help your body perform at a top level, lots of fresh vegetables, proteins, and natural carbohydrates from fresh foods, or, sugary soda, a greasy hamburger and fries? Although at times in my life I would have said the burger, science says the fresh and healthy foods. Elite athletes are proving more and more the power of healthy diets and although you might not be an elite athlete, to be an elite leader, boss, consultant, or other professional your body needs healthy foods to perform at its best.

Something Different: When you find that Flow is slipping away and your work is getting sloppy it might be time to do something else. For instance if you have been in your head all day working on a project, it might be time to lace up your running shoes and go for a run to get out of your head. Or it might be time to call an old friend and have a relaxing conversation, to allow laughter and fun in your life for a bit. When in doubt, if you are at the end of the Flow cycle, try something else.

Exercise: Exercise might seem like the thing you do not want to do when you are at the end of the Flow cycle, but actually it may be a great time to do it. Get up and get your body moving. It does not have to be an intense 2-hour super training session. It can be a walk with a friend, a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) session, a swim, or just your favorite activity. The main goal is to get out of your head and into your body. Not too much though, as the exercise should be invigorating, not draining.

Meditation: Meditation is a great way to recovery. Even five minutes of simple meditation can do wonders. Not a meditation type you say? Let technology help. Bi-neural brainwave technology such as Holosync by Centerpointe Research Institute uses audio technology through headphones to help you deal with stress and relax. Also you can try the many smartphone apps such as Calm, Breathe, and Stress Doctor all utilizing technology to help you relax. Another great one that just came out is Thync, a plastic device you place on your head to help you relax (or recharge, depending on what mood you are in). Whatever way you do it, find the time to meditate.

Just Be: Sounds simple, but often very hard to do. To allow recovery, allow yourself to just be. No agenda, no tasks, just be in the moment. Hammock lying is a cliché, but how many of us actually do it? No book, phone, or drink – just looking up at the sky and trees. And how about actually walking up to a rose bush, appreciating it, and yes, taking a good sniff of a flower? Also some no-technology time to laugh and play with family, kids, and pets can be huge your recovery. Many of us have convinced ourselves that constant busyness, more time on the job, is the only value add. The opposite might be what we need most to find productive and freeing Flow again.

So here are some ways to Recovery so you can find flow again. Get to it, allow yourself to recover, and for me, I am going to go for a walk…

About Croft Edwards

Croft Edwards, MCC, leadership coach and speaker, is a thought leader in the field of leadership and organizational change. He is the President of CROFT + Company, a global leadership and organizational change firm with clients spanning the spectrum from oil companies and manufacturing firms, to government entities and non-profits, to small businesses and start-ups. He has coached hundreds of leaders at all levels of organizations from front-line supervisors to CEOs and Social Entrepreneurs. His speciality is the study of LeadershipFlow, the melding of the emerging study of Flow with the field of Ontological Coaching which looks at how leaders show up in their use of language, moods and emotions and the body. Croft is also a retired Army officer with a decorated career as a command and staff officer in the United States Army, both active and reserve.

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