Friday, September 18, 2020
Sasha Heinz Tells How to Get in the Flow
Friday, August 21, 2020


If Dr. Sasha Heinz had to pick out the biggest thing she’s seen with her clients regarding the coronavirus pandemic, it would be this:

People are not in the flow.

They’re not in the zone. They’re not concentrating on tasks. They’re not engaged, energized, focused and enjoying their activities.

It’s a problem she sees in particular with parents.

“Flow, or engagement, is the second element of Martin Seligman’s model of Authentic Happiness. It’s essential to our wellbeing and one of the ways that we manage ‘psychic entropy,’ which essentially is floating anxiety,” said Heinz, a developmental psychologist.

“The floating anxiety is not in short supply right now, but uninterrupted time to engage in work, hobbies or projects while juggling kids at home, doing distance learning, etc., is a real challenge.”

Heinz, who majors in positive psychology, behavioral changes and the science of getting unstuck, will be among the speakers at the Sun Valley Wellness Festival and Conference Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 22-23. The virtual conference will also feature sleep expert Dr. Matthew and a late addition—Kiril Sokoloff a global investment strategist and visionary from Sun Valley, who will discuss whether COVID can raise human consciousness.

Before the pandemic, Heinz said it was easy to become engrossed in a project, getting lost in time.

But nowadays many parents may feel more like a daycare manager than the manager of an IT department or whatever else it is they do, said Heinz

You don’t have to force yourself to be cheery about the state of the world to feel better, she said. You can achieve flow even during the pandemic by:

  • Carving out time to engage your mind in a way that feels challenging.
  • Cultivating activities that give you a sense of purpose.

“To be in the flow, you must above all else be in the present moment,” she said. “Flow is the dance between your skill level and the challenge of the activity in which you’re engaging. An activity will stimulate flow if it provides a challenge, requires skill, requires concentration, provides immediate feedback, provides a sense of control and presents clear goals.”

These goals don’t have to be grandiose, Heinz added. All they need is a clearly defined end point.

No time? No problem.

You don’t have to take on a fancy new project or hobby like baking sourdough bread in your nonexistent spare time. All you have to do is amplify the challenge level and the skill level of activities you’re already doing, she said.

Maybe, for instance, you could turn answering emails into a game, seeing how many you can reply to in less than two minutes. Or challenge yourself with a new recipe for dinner.

The important thing is to find a sense of achievement and creativity. And, while you’re at it, it doesn’t hurt to take a minute to appreciate the insurmountable burden parents have been asked to shoulder, Heinz added.

“It’s a lot. In addition to the regular requirements of modern parenthood, we’re augmenting our children’s cognitive, academic, physical, psychological, nutritional and developmental well-being,” she said.

“And don’t forget we’re also cultivating their self-regulation, building their resilience, self-efficacy and growth mindset, addressing their social-emotional needs with developmentally appropriate sensitivity, stimulating their minds just enough but not with too much screen time and unearthing every potential talent in preparing for their future college applications….And now during the COVID-19 pandemic, we can welcome the addition of playmate, schoolteacher and administrative to our already exhaustive description of parenthood.”

In addition to the lack of flow, Heinz said she also worries about the mental health effects of long-term social distancing.

“As the wonderful Christopher Peterson, one of the pioneers in the field of positive psychology said: You can sum up the field of psychology in three words: ‘Other people matter,’ ” she said. “People need other people and connection to thrive.”

Our behavior change is always an expression of a mindset change, said Heinz. In other words, we have to change what we think to create lasting changes in what we do.

Science is confirming the power of our thinking in astounding ways, she said.

“Our mindset about what we eat changes how our bodies respond to the food. Our beliefs about how fit we are relative to our peers impacts how long we live—regardless of how much exercise we actually do! And how we think about stress changes the physiological effect stress has on us.”








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