New research suggests that flow and mindfulness might help us cope with the mental burden of lockdowns and quarantines — but not equally well.
Public health authorities around the world attempt to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 by various measures that require people to quarantine themselves. The combination of isolation and economic and other uncertainties might negatively impact some people’s mental well-being.
A group of researchers in the United States and China have some recommendations that might help mitigate the psychological challenges of lockdowns.
A new study published in Plos One examined the relationship between the length of isolation, well-being, and coping strategies.
The research team found that the longer people were quarantined, the more their subjective experience of well-being deteriorated.
Researchers conducted an online survey of 5,115 college students in China at the beginning of the imposition of lockdown measures.
The survey captured the length of quarantine, any change in the respondents’ mental well-being, and the impact of two mental states that they may or may not have experienced: flow and mindfulness.
Flow is a state springing from enjoyable activities in which people are absorbed to such an extent that they become almost unaware of their environment or the passing of time.
Flow state is induced by an activity that is inherently rewarding by providing just the right level of challenge and having well-defined objectives and outcomes.
Over the past decades, several studies have demonstrated that flow can help people cope with a variety of difficult situations, whether at work, in sport, or during communal activities.
Mindfulness is a state in which a person becomes fully conscious of their internal and external circumstances.
A person achieves it by being attentive to the moment in which they are at a given time and observing it without judgment.
In a sense, mindfulness is the opposite of flow in that it requires a raised level of self-consciousness, while in flow a person becomes less self-aware and more focused on the activity performed.