The concept of “flow” or “being in the zone” is discussed often in sports but can extend to any activity. Being in the zone is described as an elevated yet effortless sense of concentration.1 Furthermore, it is considered to be intrinsically rewarding. How can we as emergency providers maximize our chances of being in the zone?

  • If you think of your emotions on a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being very relaxed and 10 being extremely excited we all have an inverted U-curve for optimal performance. Know your numbers for peak performance and adjust.2 For example:
    1. If you work best at an 8 and you feel like you are at a 5 after 4 night shifts, do some jumping jacks, listen to your favorite pump-up jam, or treat yourself to a latte to get yourself ramped up.
    2. If you work best at a 5 and you are super nervous about your cardiac shift and feel you are at an 8 listen to soothing music or meditate.
  • People feel in the zone when the perceived level of demand posed by the task matches a person’s perceived ability or skills (balance hypothesis). Some of this is out of our control but know we are challenged so we can continually rise to that demand and be in a state of “flow”.3


  1. Kennedy P, Miele DB, Metcalfe J. The cognitive antecedents and motivational consequences of the feeling of being in the zone. Conscious Cogn. 2014;30:48-61.
  2. Mack G, Casstevens D. Mind Gym. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2001.
  3. Csikzentmihalyi M. Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper & Row; 2000.
July 2024