What To Do When You Lose Your Flow

Sometimes we’re just out of it. Whatever it is that has thrown us off, we’re suddenly finding ourselves feeling a lot less positive, happy and energetic than usual. Things take more effort, we’re slower and less active and we’re just…off. We’re out of our flow. And it blows.

I’ve been very out of my usual performance and mood this week, which made me think of what I usually do to get back into the flow (– and what other people do. If you’ve ever felt out of your usual flow, what things did you do? Let me know in the comments!) So this is basically a four step program applicable to loss of flow…and getting it back.

Loss of flow is like quicksand: The more you resist, the worse it gets. The more you ignore what’s going on, soldiering on while deep down you know something is wrong = a bad idea.

You’re not in that great place mentally or emotionally: Okay. So be it. It happens. Sometimes we have off days or off weeks. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. Acknowledgement is a great first step; if you don’t let yourself be out of it, it’s going to be way harder to get yourself back into it.

Whenever someone you know and love, like a sister, friend or significant other, isn’t their usual lovely self you don’t give them shit about it. You give them a hug, try to brighten their mood or leave them at peace for a little while.

However, when it comes to ourselves we’re not as accepting. We usually don’t cut ourselves much slack. Because we have to be great, happy, motivated and awesome. All the time. We have to. Right? So we get anxious, mad or stressed out the moment we’re not meeting our usual standards of flow and happiness. This doesn’t exactly help either. So don’t be all extra grumpy and judgmental about it.

Be nice about it. For one, see it for what it is: “I’m out of the flow right now” and not “I am a terrible unhappy person who is going to lead a miserable life forever and ever”. And second, treat yourself with a little kindness, time and space.

Obviously you’re going to do something about not being in the flow. The only question is the how and what exactly. I have come up with two possible techniques, named after two legendary fictional characters.

The Rambo: You sprint through the Non-Flow zone into Flow Central mowing down everything in your path with a machine gun. While wearing a red headband. Because you’re bad ass.

When I Rambo my way through a lack of flow I basically nuke myself with all potentially flow-inducing stuff in my life. I drink extra green juice, go to extra yoga classes, have extremely long showers with lots of Lush products, write down lists of what I want in life, see the most flow-inducing people I have available in my life, etc. Everything that could help me get into the flow, I do it. All at the same time if I can.

This sounds nice, but it can feel dreadful and counterintuitive at first. All you might want to do is spoon your pillow and watch Sex and the City until you feel better. But with this technique, you ignore that and throw yourself into Flow-Inducing Activities. It’s great in some ways: You learn to ignore your inner Whiny Pants and once you feel better you already find yourself immersed in all these productive and healthy behaviors, creating a lot of momentum to keep going. However, it takes an incredible amount of mental strength to muster up the energy and effort, especially out of the flow. I only pull a Rambo once or twice a year.

The Horse Whisperer: You treat yourself very gently and slowly guide yourself back to Flow. All kind words, soft voice and slow movements while taking baby steps back towards your natural zone.

This is for all those other times where I really can’t muster up the strength to Rambo my way out of a bad week. When I pull a Horse Whisperer, I am nice to myself in tiny, different ways. I do things that take very little effort and that I know are good for me or make me feel happier. That way I’ll get back to my usual self eventually.

For example, this week I made sure I drank one glass of green juice everyday. I let myself sleep a lot more than usual. I sent out a few important e-mails I should have sent earlier. I signed up for a cool backbend workshop that will be in a few weeks at a yoga studio nearby. I also got coffee at my favorite coffee place, treated myself to Essie nail polish in cute colors. I had a quick but relaxed lunch while writing at a nice Italian place near work.

The great thing about the Horse Whisperer technique is that it is easier. You don’t drain your emotional and mental energy like in the Rambo. You just do the little things that don’t take too much effort from you but that have a significant impact on your mood. You get all these little sparks over an extended period of time, which leads to feeling better, which leads to feeling great and getting back to your usual flowy state.

Because a loss of flow is always temporary. And not just because your awesome and you’re going to do great things that will induce your usual great mood and energy but also because you’re supposed to be in your flow. It is our natural state. Our entire body and being will always be working towards that usual balance. Of course, the more you facilitate it, the quicker and easier it will be, but it is the natural way of things. So don’t worry about it too much, okay? Just do your best and your flow will come back. Pinky swear.

Hope you guys have a fantastic flow-filled weekend. I’m going to shower and then wake the boyfriend up (softly or enthusiastically, or both). He’s taking me to lunch, he just doesn’t know it yet. 😉 Kisses!

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  1. haha ik zie mezelf niet zo snel The Rambo doen, dus dan wordt het maar the horse wisperer!
    Heerlijk mezelf verwennen op lekkere chocolade, meestal wordt het dan risotto koken en lekker op de bank m’n series kijken.
    Dit weekend ook niet helemaal lekker in m’n vel, maar nu allerlei leuks op de planning dus sla ik me er zo maar door heen!

  2. This post was timed perfectly. Can you read the minds of your readers? I had a complete meltdown literally an hour ago. Whined my bf to complete desperation, indeed took a long hot/cold shower and planned my Rambo way out of this state. Will now clean ALL the clutter, solve ALL the problems, run ALL the miles, you know. Thanks, selfhelphipster!

      1. I have installed little alien-esque devices in all of your heads. So I could best fit your needs with my articles. I implant because I care.

  3. LOVE THIS. NEEDED THIS. Right now I’m going to clean my house (haven’t done that for weeks), listen to happy songs and drink some homemade lemonade. Have ben “out of it” for four weeks now. Haven’t felt right since I returned from Italy. I did lots of pillow spooning hoping it would just magically disappear, but think I should take matters in my own hands right now.. Thanks Li! x

    1. That’s right! Take matters into your own hands & be the power-woman you are destined to be! <3 Good luck!

  4. Perfect moment for me! I have been slacking with my ‘eat healthy plan’ for weeks and I’ve gained a pound or two, time to get back on track! Yesterday, I ate my last bag of crips for weeks…and today I’m going to the market to get a lot of fruits and veggies! Thanks!

  5. Sometimes telling you feel like shit, makes you feel a lot better. Feeling a bit down is nothing to be embarrased about. When you say out loud what’s bottering you, most of the time it doesn’t seem that bad anymore.
    After telling somebody about my problems, I can just take a deep breath, drink a glass of water and get back in my flow.

    Also, the ‘horse whisper technique’ works quite well for me. And sometimes it’s time to stop crying an do the Rambo!

  6. ik lees dan altijd blogs die me inspireren, L&S van Galadarling. Of ik maak moodboards. Meestal kom ik dan wel weer in de flow. het accepteren helpt ook heel erg

  7. Love this post! And your images had me grinning … being in that state of flow is addictive and I’m trying to learn to find it in the things I maybe-don’t-wanna-do-so-much.

    A few days ago I wrote my own take on flow called ‘water baby’. I should get into green juices as well, but for me ‘flow’ is the ultimate elixir 🙂