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How can sailing help you achieve a flow state of mind?

What is a flow state of mind?

Often described as an ‘optimal state of consciousness’, it is when you feel your best and perform at your best. You become fully immersed and engaged in the activity you are doing, and as a result, you feel happier, are more creative, and are entirely focused on what you are doing in that moment.

In a recent survey*, we asked Brits if they enjoyed being in a ‘flow state of mind’. The findings revealed the percentage of individuals who reported experiencing the flow state of mind as follows:

Importantly, 100% of people surveyed said they enjoy being in the flow state of mind.

When it comes to sailing, there are countless health and wellbeing benefits, but how can it help you achieve this flow state of mind? 

Watch Dee Caffari, an ambassador for Sunsail and a record-breaking sailor who spent an impressive 178 consecutive days in the flow state of mind shed light on how sailing can assist in attaining this highly rewarding mental state.

Disconnect and Recharge

In our digitally-focused world, there’s an undeniable satisfaction in setting an “out of office” notification and taking a break from the demands of everyday life. While a holiday provides that opportunity, a sailing holiday elevates the joy of disconnecting to new heights. Sailing requires your full attention, as you navigate the boat, monitor wind and weather conditions, adjust sails, and make decisions. This immersive experience helps shift your focus to the present moment, allowing you to let go of other distractions and concerns. When fully engaged in the task at hand, you are more likely to enter a flow state.

Connection with Nature

Sailing takes you out onto the water, allowing you to connect with the natural environment. The sound of the wind, the movement of the waves, and the beauty of the surroundings can create a sense of tranquility and serenity. This connection with nature can enhance the flow state by providing a peaceful and harmonious backdrop for your sailing experience.

Enhance Cognitive Function

Sailing involves a combination of technical skills and decision-making. There is a constant interplay between adjusting the sails, steering the boat, and responding to changing conditions. This balance between challenge and skill is an important aspect of entering a flow state. When the level of challenge matches your abilities, you are more likely to experience a state of heightened focus and immersion.

In fact, a recently published study demonstrated that participating in sailing activities led to improvements in attention, memory, and executive functioning. The constant mental stimulation and problem-solving required while sailing can contribute to maintaining and enhancing cognitive abilities.

Sense of Control and Mastery 

Sailing empowers you to take control of the boat and navigate through the water using your skills and knowledge. As you gain experience and expertise, you can refine your sailing techniques, understand the nuances of the wind and currents, and make more informed decisions. This sense of control and mastery over the boat and your actions can contribute to the flow state, as it provides a sense of achievement and self-confidence.

Friends sailing in Thailand
Mindfulness and Relaxation   

Sailing can also offer moments of mindfulness and relaxation. As you sail, you may find yourself in a rhythm, feeling the wind and water, and experiencing a sense of harmony with the boat and the elements. This meditative quality can induce a relaxed state of mind and help you let go of stress and worries, promoting the conditions for flow to emerge.

Promote Adventure and Exploration

Sailing opens up a world of adventure and exploration, allowing you to discover new places, cultures, and perspectives. Engaging in novel experiences and expanding your horizons can stimulate the brain and contribute to personal growth and a sense of fulfilment.

Reading on boat

Remember that the experience of flow can vary from person to person, and it may take time and practice to reach that state while sailing. However, the combination of being present, connecting with nature, balancing challenge and skill, feeling a sense of control, and cultivating relaxation can greatly enhance your chances of achieving a flow state while sailing.

*We surveyed 2,000 adults in the UK in May 2023.

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