Stranger Days #43: Feeling the Flow in a Pandemic

A chalk board with scrabble letters that spells out "Stranger Days"
Estimated Reading Time: 3.5 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

Recently, I read the classic text, Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi after seeing that it was a required text for a course my partner is taking and that I had been wanting to read it for a while.  It helped that it was now available as an audiobook.  I was doubly intrigued when my partner read a passage from the book that she said reminded her of me and how I go through life.  An opportunity for introspection and reflection?  Sign me up!

Most of us are familiar with flow. It's that feeling we get when we're so engaged with something that time twists in curious ways and we feel so present and in the fullness of whatever it is that one is doing.  This happens in many different spaces from exercise to games to different forms of working to finding one in sync with others to even reading. It's a powerful but not always realized experience in that, if we don't give time to reflect, we can miss the fact that we were in it.    

I find flow in many things by a mixture of optimizing what I'm doing, making it as engaging or rewarding as possible, or just appreciate the work of the task.  It's funny but by having access to audiobooks whenever I set to domestic tasks, it creates an incredible sense of flow, where my mind is often fully engaged in listening and the rote memory of the chores gets me through the work.  And for some, that may sound like I'm trying to distract myself but in the moment, it doesn't feel distracting. It feels like I'm getting to enjoy a book while also appreciating that I can contribute to keeping the place clean.  

After reading Flow (or listening to it if you prefer), I started to wonder what were some of the ways in which I have established flow during the pandemic. I discussed a while back about how I've taken to drinking tea. I've found that activity was rather creating or reading up a morning flow.  In fact, my rountine now where we do yoga, get tea, and some breakfast and settle into work has a very flow-like feel to it that I'm appreciating.  I continue to find flow in the chores that I do but also in my nightly rountine where I wind myself down, first by brushing and flossing and then settling in bed to read before going to bed. The routine is simple and not exciting but feeling in sync with my body's and mind's needs as I move towards sleep captures a flow for me.  

Currently, I am struggling with finding flow in running.  For much of my running experience, there has been a strong sense of flow with each and every run.  These days, I find that less so. I think some of it is that I am constantly challenged to think more about where to run rather than the running itself.  If I don't get out in the early AM, which has been harder during this time to do, then I run during the middle-to-late day and that makes it much harder to navigate people and it limits where I can run since typical routes are largely trafficked.  Paying attention to that increasingly detracts from me just being in my body with my music and appreciating being in that space.  The result is that I'm doing short runs at slower times.  And while on the whole, I'm ok with this. I'm still getting out to run; I'm still healthy. But it is something I'm just acknowledging.

What about you?  Are you finding new places of flow during this pandemic? Are you finding places where there used to be flow and now there isn't?  Where do you find your flow in general?

Take care. Be careful. Be care-filled.  Welcome to stranger days.

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