In any practice, whether you work in a creative field, own a business or are a parent (think of all those school projects and school lunches!), at some point, you will need to unlock your powers of creativity. On the best of days, there is a flow and everything comes together like thunder with lightening.
Unfortunately, there are also bound to be times when we undergo mental blocks. In my field of writing, there is an exact terminology for it: writer’s block. Yet, a creative block is something that can be experienced in any arena!
Fortunately, there are ways to kick-start the engine and get the juices flowing once again. Here are some ways how:
1. Exercise: As Reese Witherspoon wisely told us in Legally Blonde, ““Exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy.” This is where I’ll tweak the last part. And happy people are in a better mental place to be creative. I, personally, love Aerial Yoga where I am able to get upside down which literally increases the blood flow to my head. However, any form of exercise, even a simple stroll or skip (just be ready for some strange looks) around the office, can help give you the boost that you need. According to Newsweek, “Almost every dimension of cognition improves from 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, and creativity is no exception.”
2. Set some “Weird Rules” for yourself: Over 20 years ago, Stanford Professor, Robert Sutton, wrote a book titled, “Weird Ideas that Work” that brought about some ground-breaking ideas for how to foster creativity at the workplace. He basically tells us to do the opposite of the status-quo with rules such as “Find some happy people and get them to fight,” (basically, getting smart people to debate their ideas to understand flaws and solutions) and “Reward success and failure, punish inaction.” (As creativity works best through constant practice) Through extensive research, he backs up these ideas and shows us how counterintuitive thinking can lead to success and many companies who lead in creative innovation have followed suit.
3. Keep an Idea Notebook: Sometimes our best ideas form while in bed when we have finally allowed our minds to enter a calmer space. Instead of trying to remember those brilliant ideas during the morning rush, write it down immediately and free up space in your head for newer ideas.
4. Practice every day: A little practice every day in any creative capacity prevents you from being stagnant. Try not go after perfection here. The key is giving yourself a few minutes every day to dedicate to your work and allow your brain to stretch. Similar to activating a muscle at the gym, here we are activating our creative muscles and preventing them from getting stiff. And you never know when one of these 10 minute exercises may lead to a great idea! Another method of going about a practice is through unnecessary creating.
5. Change of Scenery: A simple change of scenery can be all you need to think a little differently. Being the romantic that I am, I imagine jet-setting off to some foreign country when left uninspired, however I’d likely grow broke before the creativity flowed. But even a little break from a cold office space can have big benefits for the brain. According to a 2012 Tel Aviv University study, encouraging “expansive thinking” in children, that is to have them think about distant objects and perspectives like the galaxies in the skies, helps them think beyond their present reality and foster creativity. So think like ‘Sex and the City’, grab your laptop and a coffee to a nearby park or beach, look outwards to beautiful nature, and get those juices flowing.