Case Study - Getting and being in Flow in Continuing Lockdown

Updated: Jan 4

What is in Flow?:


‘Flow is being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz’


Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


Many people describe being in Flow, or ‘in the zone’ when engaging in a hobby, sport, activity, hobby, work or pastime that is pleasing to them.

It seems activities that promote Flow must be challenging, but not over-challenging – they provide an optimal level of challenge for you. Equally, they must not be too easy and must not promote boredom.


Context:

This is a case study about enjoying being in Flow in continuing lockdown. Is that possible in lockdown?

Yes! I interviewed Sophie about getting and being in Flow in continuing lockdown.

I put these three questions to her:


1. What activity, hobby, pastime, or single piece of work do you love to do in lockdown or at any time?

2. Is the level of challenge in your chosen activity right for you – not too challenging and not too easy?

3. How does your chosen activity in lockdown make you feel?


Sophie is 16 years old and she is studying for her ‘A’ levels at secondary school in North Yorkshire. She studied at home during national lockdown 1 when her school was closed. Then she returned to school during continued lockdowns when her school re-opened. Sophie also works in a café serving food and drinks to customers on Saturdays when the café is allowed to be open for business.


Currently the café is closed due to the restrictions of lockdown. During national lockdown 1 Sophie spent months at home while her school was closed. Continuing tiered lockdowns mean that Sophie spends some time at school and some time at home and much of her studying and activities take place within her home environment at the moment.


1. What activity, hobby, pastime, or single piece of work do you love to do in lockdown?

Sophie is studying music for one of her A levels and loves to play the piano. She can play the piano to a very high standard and is practising to take Grade 8 in piano playing. She has not been able to take the exam yet - the date of her piano exam has been postponed indefinitely due to continuing lockdowns. This means that Sophie needs to continue to practise the piano playing during lockdowns to keep her standard of playing up until she can take the exam in the future.


During national lockdown 1 Sophie played the piano for four hours every day. Then she returned to school and the busyness and schedule of going to school meant that she reduced her time practising piano playing to one hour or half an hour every day. During her piano practise she loves to practise scales and does this with skill and precision. After practising these scales she loves to play piano pieces of many types of music.


2. Is the level of challenge right for you – not too challenging and not too easy?

Sophie plays piano to a high standard – but this is not so significant in terms of being in Flow as the level of challenge in relation to her own perception of her skill level.


She says the level of challenge in the scales she plays and in the pieces of music she chooses to play is just right for her – challenging, engaging and not so easy as to be boring for her. She is constantly improving her technique and skill in playing the piano.


3. How does your chosen activity in lockdown make you feel?

As Sophie plays the piano she says:


‘Time flies. I feel really motivated to improve my playing, to perfect it. I imagine a story that goes with the piece of music I am playing. I take on the mood of the piece I am playing. If it’s a happy tune, I feel happy. I am not really thinking about my fingers and what they are doing. I play without thinking. I forget that other people are there. When I am playing, I can’t really feel anxious. All I focus on is the music. Before I play the piano, I might be feeling stressed or overwhelmed.


Then, as I play the piano, I feel relaxed, excited, happy. I get ‘in the zone’ and I can create a different mood to match the piece I am playing – I create the mood in myself that I want at the time. I am not ‘involved’ with my fingers and I feel my whole body is ‘coordinated’.


I feel confident, comforted and calm.’


Outcomes:


Sophie’s story shows us how getting in Flow can help to make the time in continuing lockdown pass more quickly and enjoyably.


Being in Flow helped Sophie to pass hours of her time in lockdown and was positively good for her wellbeing – reducing feelings of stress and overwhelm. Instead, she experienced feelings of confidence, comfort and calm.


Question:


Lockdown is a continuing journey for you and for everyone. In continuing lockdown, could you consider getting and being in Flow?

There might be nothing to lose and something to gain…

What’s the smallest viable in Flow experiment you could do that might be a big winner for you?


Conclusion:


It is useful in lockdown to practise getting in Flow since it causes helpful emotions and feelings - such as contentment, connectedness to self, achievement, satisfaction, happiness, productivity and creativity.


Getting in Flow can help in lockdown to manage your mental, physical and emotional state and improve your overall wellness.


Often, when we are in Flow, we find ourselves producing some of our greatest works of creativity, being more productive and feeling content and happy.


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Joan Haines Director

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Jacci Wright Director​​

jacci.wright@sharedinspiration.co.uk

tel: 07776 378475

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