News & Features
Unlocking the flow state: how sailing takes you to new mental horizons
But how can we tap into this elusive flow state?
A recent study commissioned by global yacht charter company, Sunsail, unveiled intriguing insights about the flow state and its impact on mental health.
The findings indicate a mere 11% of Brits have experienced the flow state in the past 3-12 months, despite 100% expressing their enjoyment of being in it. A stark contrast emerges when comparing childhood experiences, with 72% of participants reporting being in a flow state over 80% of the time during their youth.
The survey also highlighted the positive impact it had on mental health, with 94% of respondents reporting improvements in their well-being. Sadly, 53% of participants had forgotten what it feels like to be in the flow state, and 92% noticed a decline in flow experiences as they aged.
Often referred to as an ‘optimal state of consciousness’, the flow state manifests when you are at your best, both mentally and physically. It's a state of complete immersion and engagement in an activity, where time seems to fade away, and your focus becomes laser sharp.
There are many ways sailing can help you achieve this flow state. Not only does it demand unwavering concentration, but it also provides a welcome respite from the demands of everyday life. When you set sail, the world around you changes. It requires your full presence and involvement, effectively shutting out distractions and fostering a mindset of living in the here and now.
In addition, sailing's profound connection with nature serves as a catalyst for the flow state. The soothing sound of the wind, the rhythmic movement of the waves, and the breath-taking beauty of your surroundings combine to create an unparalleled sense of peace and tranquillity.
You are empowered to take the helm, literally and metaphorically. As you gain experience and refine your techniques, you become the master of the boat. Control and mastery are key ingredients, as it instils a sense of achievement and self-confidence.
It also offers moments of pure mindfulness and relaxation. As you sail, a soothing rhythm emerges—the wind embraces your face, the water glides beneath the hull, and you become attuned to the boat's every movement. In this meditative state, stress and worries dissipate, and you find yourself enveloped in a serene sense of harmony with the elements. It is during these moments of tranquillity that the conditions for flow can effortlessly emerge.
When conditions provide choppy waters, balancing technical skills with decision-making presents an ever-evolving challenge that pushes your abilities to the edge. When the level of challenge matches your skills, a delicate equilibrium is struck, fostering a state of heightened focus, deep engagement, and absolute immersion.
Beyond the mental benefits, sailing unlocks a world of adventure and exploration, providing opportunities for personal growth and fulfilment in uncharted waters.
Unlocking the flow state requires practice and dedication, but the rewards are boundless. So, next time you feel the need to escape the hustle and bustle of life, consider hoisting the sails, feeling the wind in your hair, and embarking on a journey towards the flow state.