3 Ways to Get Out of Your Head and Into Flow

If you’re like most people, your mind is busy, filled with untamed emotions and unruly thoughts. Your attention is often anywhere but right here. You churn out thought after thought as you live in the chaos and clutter of your busy mind.

Too much mental content frays your nerves and keeps you awake at night. The mental junk drains you; the drama and distraction leave you feeling exhausted. In short, your busy mind is an overwhelming place to live.

The good news is there’s a better way to operate—it’s called flow.

Flow is the full-body, full-sensory experience when your awareness drops below your head into your body. You shift from only thinking about what’s happening into a heightened state of sensing and perceiving.

In flow, you not only think about the beauty of the sunset or the vastness of the night sky, you feel absorbed in the moment from head to toe. This sense of full engagement can emerge during a presentation, at a concert, or on the field. And when it does, you may find yourself nailing your talk, dancing with abandon, or scoring a goal.

In flow, you not only feel engaged and fully alive, you thrive.

The most effective way to experience flow is to get out of your head and into your body. The following strategies I call mini-wins will help you do just that.

Take 5

Deep, balanced breathing is your most powerful state shifter. And it’s free and always available. Research suggests that deep breathing can shift the state of your nervous system from a stressed to a more rested state in a matter of minutes. Don’t let the simplicity of this mini-win fool you. It works!

Here’s how:

  1. Open your hand with fingers spread wide.
  2. Bring your forefinger and thumb together. Now inhale deeply and exhale for just as long.
  3. Change to middle finger and thumb. Take another deep breath.
  4. Then ring finger and thumb.
  5. Change to pinky finger and thumb.
  6. Finally, spread your fingers once again and take a fine deep inhale and exhale.

Take 5. That’s it. Easy peasy? Well, it is. Five breaths and you’re in the moment and back in flow.

Take 5 in the chaos of your commute, in between meetings, or while waiting for emails to download.

2. Move It

Being aware of your body is another strategy to return to flow quickly and effectively, and moving is the most effective way to do so.

How to move? The simple answer is, any way possible.

  • Go for a brisk walk before a big presentation.
  • Stand up and stretch during your next phone call.
  • Get up from your desk every 20 minutes and do 10 deep squats (go to a bathroom if you need to!).
  • Jump in place for two minutes.

When you move, even for a few minutes, your attention drops below your busy mind into the world of physical sensation. You become more embodied and engaged. This is flow.

3. Get Quiet

The world is getting louder and it’s not likely to stop any time soon. Constant noise wreaks havoc on your nervous system, increasing your heart rate and sending you spiraling into agitation. Silence restores your nervous system by calming your body, which in turn calms your mind, allowing you to see clearly and participate fully.

When you you’re speeding through the day and feeling frantic or frenzied, simply turn off the noise-makers, close the door, and relish a few minutes of peace and quiet. No joke. This mini-win will return you to flow every time.

The only thing holding you back from experiencing flow is your busy mind. Move, breathe, and find some quiet time. These mini-wins done many times a day will get you out of your head, into your body and back into flow—that full-body, full-sensory experience where you come alive. And who doesn’t want that?

Find out about programs with Cara Bradley at Kripalu.

Cara Bradley, E-RYT, CSCS, a leading authority of body-mind training who has led thousands through her signature strategies to live in flow, is founder of Verge Body-Mind Center in Philadelphia.

Full Bio and Programs