I’ll never forget when I learned the true value of finding moments to reset throughout the day.
At the time I was preparing to relaunch my blog, which meant I had to curate a considerable amount of written and video content, all within a short period of time. In the past, I may not have batted an eye at my to-do list. This time I found myself unable to produce anything but a feeling of being overwhelmed. Still, I ignored my gut feeling and told myself to “keep pushing.” But the more I tried to force myself to produce, the more I could feel my body’s vibrations suggesting I do the exact opposite. I literally felt stuck, experiencing the paralytic effects of anxiety for the first time ever.
It took three hours for my body to calm down, and when it did, I made the decision to drop everything. I called off work, put my projects on hold, and got a room at a local hotel. I made the decision to stay at the hotel until I felt better, no matter how long it took.
Over four days, I did nothing but eat nourishing foods, take walks, pour into myself spiritually, watch television (which I never do), shower (of course), and sleep. In that time I gained new perspective on what it really takes to thrive as a creative.
Creativity needs room to breathe. The best work is produced when you relinquish the desire to force the process, and give the time and space needed for new energy and fresh ideas to flow.
What I came to realize during my four-day retreat is that small moments to reset throughout the day can open the flood gates of creativity. Here are a few practices that have worked particularly well for me.
If you only have a few minutes
Write out your to-do list. In my world, to-do lists are everything. It’s not abnormal for my active brain to leave me feeling overwhelmed. When I became more intentional about keeping to-do lists, I quickly realized how key they are to clearing the mind. Writing out my to-do lists is now part of my daily routine.
Take frequent, short breaks. Though we live in a time when people glorify “the hustle,” research shows that it’s not always the most productive way to work. And it’s definitely not the best way to inspire creativity. So, if you really want to turn it up a notch, embrace breaks. Even five minutes away from work can improve your memory, productivity, concentration, focus, and creativity. Whether you work from home or the office, find a minute to take a breather.
Give a moment to mindfulness. Mindfulness practices such as deep breathing and meditation works wonders for creativity. Open form meditation - where you sit still and allow your thoughts to flow freely - especially helps with generating new ideas. This may be the hardest form of meditation to practice, because there’s nothing in particular to focus on. But when I can manage to allow my thoughts to roam freely, I find myself making room for fresh ideas and inspiration.
If you’re into natural foods and teas
Have an avocado or a handful of walnuts each day. Beyond simply budgeting time for proper nutrition, eating foods that are high in essential fatty acids can be a big boost. Because the brain is made up of about 60% fat, essential fats play a key role in proper brain function. Ever since learning this while studying for my holistic health coaching certification, I’ve been a huge healthy fat advocate (and consumer). These days, if I don’t have healthy fats in my diet, I’ll notice a foggy feeling. If you’re not a fan of avocados or walnuts, you can try chia seeds, hemp seeds, olive oil, or coconut oil.
Drink Matcha tea. Matcha tea is totally queen when it comes to improving brain function and relaxing the mind. Matcha’s naturally occurring amino acid L-Theanine can reduce stress and anxiety while improving cognition and mood. For those reasons alone, it’s part of my daily self-care routine. Need a recipe? I’ve got you covered with a few delicious Matcha recipes.
If you’re on your lunch hour
Take a walk. People from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg have conducted meetings on foot, and for good reason. It turns out that creative thinking improves while a person walks. Try a short walk after lunch the next time you’re in need of a creativity boost.
Write a list of 100. Writing a list of 100 is a technique where you state a question or issue at the top of a piece of paper, then create a list of 100 answers or solutions. This process engages your subconscious and helps ideas flow.
Now give it a try! Use these methods or come up with your own and find what works for your routine. As you do, keep one thing in mind: Giving your body and brain the rest it needs won’t only benefit your creative pursuits - it’ll help you thrive, too.
Precious Frazier is a blogger, certified holistic health coach, wellness expert, and founder of Rock Your Reality. She’s created a supportive community around wellness and self-care, empowering women with tips on holistic lifestyles, healthy recipes, and entrepreneurship. You can follow Precious on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.