[CQ-Contest] Secrets of Contesting ---- The Flow State

Ed Radlo eddrad at aol.com
Mon Oct 17 21:58:22 EDT 2022

 That's brilliant, Jim!  You couldn't have said it better yourself.
73,  Ed  AJ6V

    On Monday, October 17, 2022 at 03:35:33 PM PDT, Jim Neiger <n6tj at sbcglobal.net> wrote:  

Secrets of Contesting and The Flow State:

 From time-to-time, we've convinced ourselves that contesting adds to 
our youth, and cognitive skills, and we simply could not excel at 
contesting if we weren't "young".  And that reasoning has sometimes 
worked to convince our significant others that we really really do need 
to fly to that far-off Indian Ocean island next week for CQ WW SSB:  
"its guaranteed that high speed talking for 48 hours will lengthen the 
period before dementia sets in" (an N6TJ quote).

Now, we can attest that there's some truth to these arguments. Simply 
stated, when we are immersed in a radio contest, we most probably can be 
in a Flow State.  This state of mind often is referred to by athletes as 
being "in the zone".

A recent article by Richard Huskey, PhD, Department of Communications 
(!!!), University of California, Davis, reveals that he has spent the 
last 10 years studying the flow state and the changes it creates in the 
brain - how you can find it, and benefit from it.  Being in a flow state 
requires that you put forth effort and drive the outcome.  Certainly our 
contesting efforts would qualify.

Quoting Dr. Huskey: "One of the key attributes of the flow state, from 
which it derives many of its psychological benefits, is that while 
you're engaged in your activity, you're focused exclusively on it.  The 
flow state occurs only when you're doing something that you're highly 
skilled at... and when you're doing it in a way that challenges that 
high skill level.  Despite exerting themselves considerably, people in 
flow hardly notice their efforts.  Time speeds up"

"Psychologists have learned a lot in recent years about what the brain 
looks like when in the flow state.   Scientists have found strong 
evidence that when a person enters the flow state, activity decreases in 
the medial prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with 
thinking about oneself.  This evidence supports psychologists 
description of flow as a state of externally focused attention."

"We also have uncovered evidence that, during flow, the brain 
reconfigures itself so it requires less energy -- kind of a 
"battery-saver mode".  That may explain why flow activities feel 
effortless and time flies while you are doing them".

Dr. Huskey reports that many benefits from being in flow have been 
observed or self-reported:

   "  Higher Skill ---  Spending time in the flow state appears to make 
you better at the activity

      Mood Boost ---  Being in flow just feels good.  If you're having a 
crummy day, getting into flow for a spell can lift your spirits

      Increased Resiliance --- People who regularly experience flow 
appear better equipped to bounce back after disappointments

      Greater Productivity --- Frequent flow experiences appear to 
reduce procrastination, prevent burnout and increase motivation

      Mental Health ---  Flow is associated with lower risk for anxiety 
and depression

      General Happiness  --- People who often go into flow report 
greater life satisfaction"

Dr. Huskey adds :  Find the sweet spot.  Once you've decided on the 
activity that will be your conduit to the flow state, make a concious 
decision to push yourself to the next level so that you're at that sweet 
spot between skill and challenge.  If it's a game, seek out an opponent 
who's just a little better than you"....

And he summarizes his writings with words that are surely music to every 
contester's ears: "There's no such thing as spending too much time in 
the flow state.  Frequently experiencing flow could make you happier, 
healthier, more productive and more skilled at your favorite tasks."

Vy 73,
Jim Neiger   N6TJ

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