The Anxiety – Flow Continuum

Feb 24, 2021
The Anxiety – Flow Continuum

We’re going to dive into the deep end of high performance here and discuss a pet theory of mine. 

When I work with clients we often start with supporting them through anxiety, feelings of overwhelm, low energy and even fully-fledged burnout. 

I refer to this as the “A and E” stage – you need to take quick action, make proper changes and get them up and running again using the best tools and techniques that research can provide for us therapists. 

But once they’ve stabilised and life is moving towards some sort of normality, it’s often a question of “what’s next?”

Think about it – you’re much less anxious, feeling more grounded and your thoughts have slowed down and the brain fog has cleared. Is that the end result? Do you just stay in this zone forever? Isn’t there something ELSE out there for you?

The Anxiety – Flow Continuum

Ok, so this is really just a fancy name for what is essentially just a straight line, with minus 5 on the left of the line, zero in the middle and plus 5 on the right side of the line. 

Minus 5

This is anxiety, exhaustion, brain fog, poor sleep, anger outbursts, tearful sobs into the pillow and all that tough stuff. 

Zero

Now we move to the world of normality, you’re back to some sort of functioning human again, you’re feeling ok and ready to take life on again. 

Plus 5

Now here’s the sweet thing about doing the work I do with clients. You see, it isn’t enough to just get them back on their feet and return to the life they had previously. No, that’s our short-term aim for sure, but it isn’t the end goal. 

Because once we can start to integrate the practices, the mindset shifts and the neurochemical changes that we teach then not only do you get to feel better, but you open the door to so much more than that. 

Flow

This is the holy grail of high performance and a state of being that is wholly teachable and reproducible. There have been many pioneers in this relatively new discipline. 

Initially, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Chick-sent-me-high) brought the idea of super-powerful states of high awareness and performance to the scientific community but over the past ten years people such as Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler have advanced the field even further. 

And this is what lies on the other side of the continuum and what we teach to our clients as they begin to overcome the anxiety and feel ready to take on more challenges. 

The benefits of being in flow are immense. 

I love Steven Kotler’s description of flow the best:

An optimal state of consciousness where you feel your best and perform your best. 

Accessing flow isn’t too hard once you know how to apply this and I will go into the specifics of this in some emails over the next few weeks.

But understanding that the path out of anxiety can eventually lead you to gain access to an optimal state of consciousness is very freeing for many of my clients. Ok, it takes work and commitment to make shifts at every level of life, but the rewards are plentiful.