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10 Ways To Let The Bud Of Creativity Blossom In Your Mind

10 Ways To Let The Bud Of Creativity Blossom In Your Mind

Creativity in contemporary culture has been cast up on a pedestal as an illusive pursuit meant only for “creative types”. Creativity requires our brains to make new connections between previously unconnected ideas and nearly everyone is born with this capability. How many truly uncreative children have you encountered? Probably not many (if any!) So the assertion that you’re simply not “the creative type” doesn’t make sense at all. You are! It’s just that your creative capacity has been struggling to breathe and grow in the vacuum that it’s been placed into.

Your creativity might seem shriveled and dry now, but here are ten specific ways to breathe new life into your creative self.

1. Embarrass yourself.

The fear of embarrassment or shame is what keeps people from being creative. You have to be willing to make a mistake, fail and look silly. In college I took an actin class that was very physical (pretending to be monkeys and things like that). At first I was so embarrassed that I would be sweaty and gross if I committed to the physicality of the exercises, but only when I decided the embarrassment was worth the creative gain did I really reach a new level of skill and freedom.

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2. Write by hand. A lot.

In a culture that is continually moving more toward the digital, it is not hard to go a whole day without writing anything down by hand. Heck! I make my grocery lists on my phone these days. But scientists have clearly proven that there is a strong connection between writing by hand and retaining information and generating ideas. The simple practice of slowly committing your hand to writing down your thoughts will over time foster new ideas that allow you to be more creative.

3. Pick a new hobby.

Learn to knit. Take piano lessons. Try your hand at water colors. Picking something that you’re unfamiliar with and struggling to learn a new skill helps to create healthy new pathways in your brain. The act of learning a low commitment creative act will breed confidence if your inner creative-self.

4. Play with a child.

The next time you get the opportunity to engage with a young child, really do it. Don’t halfheartedly race cars with your nephew, but learn from him! If he wants to play doctor commit to your role as a wounded sailor. Taking play seriously. Children have no inner sensor that keeps them from breaching social norms, and they create with more abandon than most adults. Learn from the creative abandon of the children in your life.

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5. Schedule it.

It may seem counter intuitive, to put ‘creative time’ on your weekly calendar, but it is unrealistic to assume that you will suddenly be able to channel creativity all day every day. By designating a specific time every week (or several times a week!) to be creative you are helping yourself follow through and be intentional about your creative endeavors. Plus, marking it on the calendar will make you more likely to actually do the deed!

6. Keep a notebook with you.

Keep a notebook handy with you at all times to encourage yourself to capture those unpredictable creative thoughts. Write down ideas, funny quotes, doodles and sketches. Make this notebook a judgement free place where you can hold all of those little creative glimpses that shimmer through our days.

7. Take yourself on a date.

Julia Cameron, author of the book The Artist’s Way stresses the importance of taking your inner-artist on a date. Take your creative self somewhere that will feed your creativity. Go to a museum! Go to a play! Take a coloring book and go to a local coffee shop! There are countless ways to take yourself on an artists date.

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8. Move your body.

Get up from the computer screen, turn off the t.v., leave your sketch book at home and work up some sweat. Go for a brisk 20 minute walk. Turn your music up loud and dance it out. Moving your body will help to break up the monotony of your day and the monotony of your thought processes. Regular exercise will lead to a more creative life.

9. Make lists.

List making might seem like an entirely uncreative act, but making lists will actually trigger unconscious connections and help you to generate new ideas. I’m not talking about a grocery list, but lists of ideas, memories, likes or dislikes. Creating a massive like of things you love will not only help you be more creative but it will help you learn about yourself as you see patterns arise in the things you write down.

10. Let yourself be bored.

I run from boredom like the plague. Any lull in my day I whip out my phone and scroll various social media outlets to keep my brain from sensing even a whiff of boredom. But if we let ourselves be bored we are giving our minds space to daydream. As they say, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ so if your mind is not being constantly filled with outside stimulus it will be forced to create it’s own stimulus.

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Don’t run from your creative self because of fear. Everyone is insecure. Just lug your insecurity along with you and allow yourself to be vulnerable anyway. Engaging in these ten things will help you explore your creative self and grow in your creativity.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Emily Myrin

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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