4min readCareer 04 August 2019
You've been at this project for hours on end, and nothing seems to be working.
The copy is stuck.
The title is a big fail.
And for some reason, you can't think of one brilliant, funny, or even semi-not-cringe-worthy to say to your audience.
You have hit a creative brick wall, my friend.
It happens, and it sucks.
But you don't have to stay there!
Here are a few ways to open your mind and get connected with your creativity again.
Decompress & Destress
Stress has a specific effect on the way your brain processes information and makes decisions — it makes your prefrontal cognitive abilities take a nosedive and blow up in your face.
Guess what? Your imagination is a function of your prefrontal cortex. So your ability to think outside of the box and get creative — those processes that require your imagination — they get strangled and go away when you're stressed. Here are some ways to destress your body so you can come back to your project or problem with creative solutions and ideas.
First, make sure you're fed, rested, calm, and hydrated. Taking care of your animal self means you've taken physical stress off of your body, which makes it easier to emotionally release stress. Once you've got that under control, you can re-approach what you're working on.
Second, make time to meditate, throw dishes, bake cookies — whatever that special thing is that brings you back to center and grounds you. When you take your mind out of the situation, your subconscious keeps working on the problem in the background. That's why the shower is the birthplace to some of the greatest inventions, ideas, and philosophies.
Give yourself the space to ground and get out of your head, so that beautiful brain of yours can work its magic.
Remember, the stress of forcing creativity shuts down your brain. All access to your creativity goes away. So when you want to activate your creativity, you've got to get into the space where your body and mind are feeling open instead of anxious.
Don't change directions philosophically, change directions physically.
Actually stand up and turn around. When you change where your body is in the room, it makes you change gears, which can inspire new ideas. It's a literal perspective shift.
Walking is great. Your body is designed to put one foot in front of the other for long periods of time, so your brain works well when walking. Not sure? Think of it like this.
Your body is in motion, increasing your circulation and oxygen intake, which can mean getting more oxygen to your brain and bloodstream.
Not to mention, whenever you create momentum for your body, you create momentum in your mind. This gives you the power to see the world in new ways, find new inspiration, and come up with new ideas.
If you're not an outside person and the idea of walking in nature makes you want to bolt the doors and hide under the covers, all you need is a walking desk.
This will keep you in motion, and help your creativity grow.
Start At The Bottom
Start with a terrible idea— no, the worst possible idea.
Because when you stop trying to think of a good idea, you take the pressure off of yourself and get your mind in motion.
Often the idea is the hardest part — like when you're trying to write an email or social media post and it's like someone hit you with a paralyzing blow dart because no matter how long you stare at that screen, you can't think of anything to say.
All you need something to get you started, and a terrible idea could be the sideways kick that leads you to the great idea.
When you run with the worst idea you can think of, it gives you momentum to work toward something better. Start there and see where that goes. As you try making that idea incrementally better, you're sowing the seeds for a brilliant idea to grow.
And remember, winning ideas typically aren't the first one you pull out of the hat — they're an evolution of something else.
Steal Someone Else's Idea
No, don't go out there and take something that isn't yours, but walk a mile in someone else's shoes.
What does that mean?
Pretend you're someone else. Put on a different persona.
This will help you use someone else's brain and steal their ideas (ethically!). When you stop trying to see the world through your own perspective and open your mind so you can perceive the world through someone else's, new opportunities and solutions you never would've seen before become blatantly apparent.
This is one of the most powerful ways to creatively problem solve and create epic projects. If you want to master this, you can look into the new book from Todd Herman, The Alter Ego Effect, or pick up some local acting classes at a nearby college, acting coach, or community theatre.
When it comes to unlocking your creative potential, you want to keep yourself open. Try new things and new combinations. What worked before might not work now, and what works now might not work next month.
Stay flexible and keep stretching. The more you practice these creativity strengthening exercises, the easier it is to stay in the flow.
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3 Min Read
With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.
When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.
Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan
Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.
Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.
The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.
Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits
The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.
With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.
Tip 3: Start slow and strong
If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.
Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.
Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize
In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.
When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.
Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness
From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.
Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.
Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.
A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.
Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition
In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.
If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health
While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.
For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.
While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.