Stress has been recognized as the fastest-growing occupational hazard in the United States, and it is especially prevalent in today’s workforce. In the past years, our modern culture of overworking has reached new heights and poses a serious problem in our work/home life balance. Even though we know that can wreak havoc on our physical and emotional health, many of us still subconsciously believe in the societal ideals that “busier is better” when it comes to work success.
Chronic stress has been associated with increased rates of hypertension, fatigue, headaches, heart attacks, migraines, and anxiety. It has also been linked to decreased work performance including decreased productivity, lack of focus, and inability to effectively communicate with others. Stress that is not properly managed can eventually lead to burnout, physical and emotional exhaustion that results in the inability to sustain effectiveness at work.
One way we can combat the potential of workplace chronic stress is to shift the paradigm from stress to a flow state of being.
Shifting the paradigm
Flow state, coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is a state in which you are “completely involved in an activity for its own sake,” it is often described as being “in the zone.” Chances are you have experienced a flow state – a sense of fluidity between body and mind where time seems to slow down and you are totally absorbed beyond the possibility of distraction.
The flow state is thought to be the most productive and creative state for work. Research also shows that flow states are associated with human biology. When we are in flow state, there is a release of performance-enhancing chemicals including dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and endorphins. These “feel-good” chemicals fuel intrinsic motivation and help us to focus, making the processing of information easier and promotes intuition beyond normal conscious awareness.
How does flow reduce stress?
The flow state can alter the chemistry in your brain – by activating the relaxation response, flow can effectively reduce stress and anxiety by slowing down brain waves. This phenomenon is linked to increased creativity and focus as it creates space to decompress and release tension into a state of flow.
Benefit of flow for business leaders
As mentioned, flow is your optimal state of focus and performance. To be your best, you must learn how to access peak states in your life and work. For both individuals and organizations alike, the quality of work experience can be transformed with the incorporation of flow in daily work life. This encourages people to work to their maximum capacity by reducing stress and unnecessary interruptions. For leaders, flow state can give you a significant competitive advantage by offering significant benefits:
- Higher productivity
- Lower turnover rate
- Greater business profit
- Increase mental clarity
- Spark creativity and imagination
- Accelerate learning and skill development
- Increased customer and employee satisfaction
All the best,
Dr. Thulani DeMarsay