Being In The Zone is not the same thing as being Zoned-out….
Nor is it the same thing as being so in the zone that you are reckless with no regard for rules and a hazard for yourself and others. Actually being reckless is the dark size of being in the zone.
So lets look at the first distinction.
When you are fully focused, in the present moment, alert to the wide range of your surroundings, in a good mood with positive outlook on the things, when time no longer matters and you can’t quite tell the difference where you end and the chair on which you are sitting, begins… or maybe its a carseat, or a seat of a bicycle, or water in the poll/ lake/ river etc. When you have the clear goal in front of you (an aim on the target) and you know you can do it. That is when you are In The Zone.
Being in that state also is called being in Flow. Its called Flow State by science.
So when things are going well and you’ve trained for this moment - that is your flow.
It is the most rewarding state to be in and on some level everyone has been there and everyone strives to feel that again.
On the other hand we have the total opposite, which is feeling Zoned-Out.
It is when you are so tired, everything becomes just one blurry scene. You may find yourself in that state driving back from work at the end of the day, and that state causes more harm than we know. The awareness is reduced, reaction time is slow and feelings are mostly of the low and uninspiring nature. Nothing good comes from that state of total exhaustion and most of the time the feeling of tiredness actually comes from our brain being out of electricity and chemicals to run on.
You may ask - how can a brain run out of chemicals? They are always there!
Actually everything has its limits. If you have been intently focusing all day long, if you have been running a lot of electricity through your neurones - its possible that those connections can become less responsive after a time.
Everything gets tired and needs a break - muscles or brain cells.
So the best thing is to not get to the point where you feel this zoned out. It is extreme and doesn’t have to happen. If you prioritize good sleep, movement, hydration, nutrition and clear goals - you may experience less and less of that total exhaustion.
Unfortunately in the last year we have had a lot of extra things to consider every day, which adds extra cognitive load and creates a higher likelihood for exhaustion.
Be aware of what is on your mind, where it is coming from and how much it is taking from you.
Now the final distinciton - being reckless in the Zone. The dark side of Flow.
It happens when the negative emotions take over. When the energy for flow is present, you are alert and awake, but for whatever reason your anger is activated.
Or when you feel so skilled and in control of the situation that your Ego makes you think you are invincible.
So ego or anger being the driving forces.
It is possible to feel that unpleasant irritation when someone interrupts you from doing something you love. When you are in the zone doing your best and something happens and makes you stop.
If you feel like you were not in control of that interruption - it could affect your mood quite severely.
So these are the three most common states of mind as it applies to the Zone.
In summary - identify what is your In The Zone activities - and spend more time there. Do everything possible from getting completely exhausted and zoned out. And prepare reframes in case you do get interrupted during being in the Zone so you don’t end up on the dark side of it.
‘Till next time!