Flow Searching: A Concept in Mindfulness

Scrolling through the digital kindle store, I picked the book titled ‘The Happiness Hypothesis’. A book that links ancient philosophy with contemporary psychology. At the time, I wasn’t searching for the key to happiness. Or maybe I was. But any topic on well-being is an immediate interest of mine.

What stuck with me was the concept of ‘Flow’. Flow is when you are immersed in a skill. In other words, you are “in the zone”. A skillful activity could be a hobby, craft, art, or chores. Anything. When people ‘flow’, they are engaged.

It is no surprise that ‘flow’ is associated with happiness. Being engaged is synonymous to mindfulness. Now imagine being mindful while accomplishing something skillful. Mindflow, if you will- a dopamine explosion occurs. The mind craves these experiences.
Since learning about flow, I have been on a hunt for my dopamine trigger. When am I immersed in something skillful? This started my journey into flow searching (the new soul searching). I traced recent memories to think of a time which I felt happy and challenged. The first thing that came to mind was the same reason I started this blog.

It starts out how most blogs begin. I felt drained at my job. I dreaded going to work. I wondered if it was a phase, or time for a new job. But then, like the sun breaking through the clouds, I was enlightened. I stepped out of my patients room as I usually do. But this time, I felt refreshed. I felt content in my career choice. All I did was teach a young man about his new type 1 diabetes. I talked to him and his parents for an hour, answering their questions with precision. I was confident. I felt knowledgeable. In the end, my patient did too. I discovered my Flow before I had known what flow was. I was engaged again and reminded of my love for nursing.

That is why I am here. Patient teaching is my flow. I am flow searching through writing. Even just writing this article has my dopamine receptors tingling. My flow searching journey continues as I develop my blog further, connect with the community and teach others.

Is My Fitness Routine Enough?

The fitness googling binge: searching fitness routines for hours endlessly until we find ourselves deep in the internet without ever finding the answers we need. We started off with “How to be healthy” and ended up on a blog that sucks you into buying their PDF fitness routine with false claims.

This is a battle that I, my friends, family and patients cycle through often. We feel like our fitness routine is not enough. We are not losing enough. We are not moving enough. We start one plan, stick with it for a few days, fall off and feel guilty. Back to googling.

Perhaps we do not stick to a fitness plan because it is actually too much. It makes our bodies tired. It’s difficult to incorperate into our daily lives. We blame ourselves, but I think it is important to look at what is enough?

Currently, many organizations like the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association are in agreement. Enough exercise can be 150 minutes of ‘moderate exercise’ per week, or 75 minutes of ‘vigorous exercise’ per week. Let’s break this down.

  • 150 Minutes of Moderate Intensity Exercise

150 minutes over a course of seven days could be roughly 20 minutes per day. Or, 30 minutes Monday through Friday. Or, three 50 minute moderate exercises in a week.

Do these numbers seem more manageable? Let’s explore what ‘moderate intensity’ means.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), examples include:

  1. Brisk walking, walking domestic animals
  2. Dancing
  3. Gardening
  4. Housework like chores or painting

Anything that has your heart at an increased rate could be included. Things like yoga, playing at the park with your child, or walking fast to catch your bus can elevate your heart rate.

  • 75 Minutes of Vigorous Intensity

In a seven day period, this could be 3 days of 25 minute exercises. Or, even 5 days of 15 minutes vigorous exercise. Maybe you do a spin class for 60 minutes one day a week, and a 15 minute HIIT workout two days later. You are meeting your quota!

Our experts at WHO define Vigorous intensity as:

  1. Running
  2. Cycling
  3. Fast swimming
  4. Competitive Sports

My message is this: You are doing enough!  If you missed a workout, but are still walking to work everyday, it is okay! If you meet these guidelines, you are on track to a healthy life. At a minimum, I know that I am taking my dog for a walk about 20 minutes everyday, and sometimes twice a day. This reinforces to me that even if I skip out on a gym session, I am still doing enough to maintain a healthy life. For the less leisurely, or those who enjoy a good sweat but maybe not everyday, you are probably doing enough too. Cut yourself some slack, and celebrate that you are active after all.

For those who are trying to achieve their ideal body, perhaps this is not enough. But for my patients and myself, I am most concerned about living a long healthy life. Examine your goals, and celebrate your accomplishments.

Disclaimer: let’s not forget that a healthy lifestyle is coupled with eating right too. Exercise alone is not enough. More to come on eating right in the future.

Did you notice that your daily routine may be enough to live a healthy life? Tell me about it in the comments!