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Summary: Check out these six different steps to keep stress from interfering with your creativity; just know that it is okay to take breaks as well as switch up your schedule.
With technology and automation, jobs these days are much more focused on your ability to be innovative - that’s the one thing computers can’t do as well as the human mind. But when you’re working hard to come up with something new, the stress you’re under is actually killing the creativity that you need to succeed. Stress-induced hormones are actually what cause your thoughts to spiral and send you into that paralysis of being unable to even begin.
So why can’t you just relax and let that creativity flow? It’s hard to do when you’re under a deadline and need to come up with some novel ideas to present, but there are some simple activities that you can pull out of your back pocket the next time you’re feeling the pressure to be creative in a pinch.
1. Wait until you’re tired. This suggestion may seem counterintuitive since you want energy to get your work done. However, when you’re most tired, the rational thoughts that keep you inside the box fall away and you start to come up with things that you never would have let yourself think of before.
2. Change up your routine. Routines can be great because they take out the decision-making that can use up a lot of your mental energy. However, if you want your brain to be able to mix things up, changing what you see and do for one day will help spark something new in your mind. If you can’t completely change up your day’s schedule, try taking a different route to work, go to a new coffee shop, go walk somewhere different during a break, or find a new playlist to listen to.
3. Get moving. Movement is absolutely key to getting our brains to work and many people say they come up with their best ideas when they’re out on a run, in the shower, or basically anywhere that doesn’t involve sitting still behind a computer screen. If you’re feeling stuck, get up, get off of your phone or computer, and get outside. Start observing the world around you and listen to your own thoughts.
4. Watch cute videos. Being creative requires a positive mood. You have to be happy and excited about what you’re doing because feeling down or overwhelmed will only hold you back. A study from the Association of Psychological Science found that people who watched funny or cute videos on the internet put them in a better mood and allowed them to be more creative. It’s not a waste of time (as long as you don’t get carried away) because it will allow you to be more productive over the course of the day.
5. Put meaning into your work. No job is easy to do if you don’t have a “why” behind the daily grind. When you have a deadline looming and you’re feeling significant pressure, come up with a reason that you need to do this project other than to please your boss or succeed at work. How will this help you develop better skills? How will this project help other people, even if it’s down the line? You have to choose a “why” that happens no matter what, rather than something like a promotion which is outside of your control and can leave you frustrated over and over again if it doesn’t happen.
6. Know that you may fail. Have you ever heard the saying from Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take?” When it comes to being creative, you have to let go of your fear of failure. Taking risks is essential to coming up with novel ideas, so don’t worry about your idea being a horrible one and just give it a try. You’ll never get anywhere new if you don’t put yourself out there.
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