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Science Reveals The Best Time To Do Amazingly Creative Work

Science Reveals The Best Time To Do Amazingly Creative Work

If you regularly put time and effort into becoming more creative, this post is for you. If your boss or supervisor has commented that they’d love for you to work on your creative skills, this post is even more for you. If you’re an artist, musician, writer, filmmaker, poet, or any other kind of self-identified creative individual, this post is most definitely for you.

We love learning how to be more creative. Creativity remains one of the most highly valued assets in the workplace. Companies are pushing recruiters and HR staff harder than ever to find candidates who can think differently. Businesses want problems solved more efficiently and more quickly, and creative thinking is arguably the most effective way to conquer problems.

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Despite all this, how does creativity as a skill (and the fostering of it) remain so utterly elusive? At least, that’s what it seems like. If you were born and raised in a developed country, chances are you were educated through more traditional models. That is to say, standardized testing and rigid classroom structures were more often the rule, not the exception.

Creative Thought Increases Value Everywhere

It’s no secret that STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) classes and majors are prioritized and glamorized over others. These jobs almost unequivocally pay more than jobs relating to arts and literature, history, education, and psychology. Even healthcare jobs don’t always compete salary-wise with STEM-related jobs.

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Now, I’m not saying careers involving STEM proficiencies are bad. I’m simply illustrating that career paths not traditionally associated with “creative” or “artsy” thinking even value the leverage of creativity, when all is said and done.

At the end of the day, creativity seems to win universal acclaim. So, let’s cut to the chase and learn when you’re most apt to produce your most creative work. Are all the myths about creativity true?

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The Secret To Optimal Creativity

Believe it or not, doing your best creative thinking is most likely to happen when you’re tired. I know, I know; this information pretty much flies in the face of conventional wisdom, especially in regards to hard work. Most people recommend getting up early in the day, getting to your workspace, making sure your desk is well-lit, and hammering away at your craft. These are fantastic recommendations for productivity, but it turns out they aren’t exactly ideal for optimal creativity.

Researchers Mareike Wieth and Rose Zacks conducted a study in which they first determined the peak cognition times of their subjects. The research subjects were given a simple test that determined whether they considered themselves “morning” people or “evening” people. This test provided information on when an individual’s cognition and focus are clearest. This was later referred to in the research as one’s “peak time.” An “off-peak time” was, naturally, the opposite time at which someone’s intellectual function was most driven.

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Zacks and Wieth found when we’re at our peak time, our brains are able to more efficiently filter out distractions and get work done. As the day draws near an end (or more appropriately, as we reach our off-peak time), our brains are not able to operate as efficiently, and we become more susceptible to a broader range of information. This component — the default openness to more bits of information and varying interpretations — is what actually drives optimal creativity.

This unconventional but potent realization can come as mild bad news and good news. It may be bad news because you might have to adapt your workflow to optimize your creativity; the good news is that powering up your creative work just became a lot simpler to harness.

Now that you understand when your best creative work can be done, what are a few ways to utilize this wisdom? Check out my recommendations below:

  • Carry a pen and notepad with you at all times. I know this can sound super cliché because everyone recommends it, but that’s because it works. Don’t rely on your brain to remember every nugget, tidbit, and idea you create or encounter; it won’t happen. Write down everything that intrigues you so you can refer back to it later. Even better is to keep a separate notebook by your bed.
  • Reserve a few nights/mornings out of the week to have nothing going on. Just allow yourself to be free of obligations and have the chance to write down new ideas, patterns, and possibilities. Assign these moments in your schedule based on your peak time.
  • Maintain a relatively full schedule. When you have a lot going on, you’re more likely to get tired sooner. And, as we now know, being tired facilitates creativity. The sooner you get tired, the sooner and more likely you are to have some cool ideas coming your way. Not having a decently full schedule can be somewhat of a hindrance to creative thought.

Featured photo credit: Bench Accounting via unsplash.com

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Brad Johnson

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Weighted Blanket for Anxiety and Insomnia: How to Make It Work

Weighted Blanket for Anxiety and Insomnia: How to Make It Work

Messed up sleep can create a long list of secondary issues that can quickly become primary concerns if insomnia or other disturbances continue untreated.

Lack of sleep, whether it’s medically related or anxiety-driven, can throw off your normal functioning during the day. Concentration becomes difficult, productivity at work or school begins to suffer, irritability can have you lashing out at family and friends, and you also become at risk for serious health issues like heart attacks.

How can something so simple as sleeping with weighted blankets be a solution to stress, anxiety, insomnia and more?

Weighted blanket for anxiety and insomnia: how does it work?

Deep pressure touch stimulation (or DPTS) is a type of therapy that almost anyone can benefit from.[1] Similar to getting a massage, pressure exerted over the body has physical and psychological advantages.

According to Temple Grandin, Ph.D.:[2]

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“Deep touch pressure is the type of surface pressure that is exerted in most types of firm touching, holding, stroking, petting of animals, or swaddling. Occupational therapists have observed that a very light touch alerts the nervous system, but deep pressure is relaxing and calming.”

Traditionally, weighted blankets are used as part of occupational therapy for children experiencing sensory disorders, anxiety, stress or issues related to autism.[3] Karen Moore, OTR/L, an occupational therapist in Franconia, N.H says,[4]

“In psychiatric care, weighted blankets are one of our most powerful tools for helping people who are anxious, upset, and possibly on the verge of losing control.”

A weighted blanket molds to your body like a warm hug

The pressure from a weighted blanket helps relax the nervous system.[5] It’s a totally safe and effective non-drug therapy for sleep and relaxation naturally.

Psychiatric, trauma, geriatric and pediatric hospital units use weighted blankets to calm a patient’s anxiety and promote deep and restful sleep. In a similar way to swaddling comforting an infant, the weight and pressure on an adult provides comfort and relief.

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The pressure encourages mood-lifting hormones

When pressure is gently applied to the body, it encourages serotonin production, which lifts your mood. When serotonin naturally converts to melatonin, your body takes the cue to rest.

Weighted blankets are typically “weighted” with plastic poly pellets that are sewn into compartments throughout the blanket to keep the weight properly distributed. The weight of the blanket acts as deep touch therapy and acts on deep pressure touch receptors located all over your body.

When these receptors are stimulated, the body relaxes and feels more grounded and safe, and clinical studies suggest that when deep pressure points are triggered they actually cause the brain to increase serotonin production.

Benefits of weighed blankets

Weighted blankets are especially effective at alleviating anxiety. A 2008 study published in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health showed that weighted blankets offered safe and effective therapy for decreasing anxiety in patients. These results were confirmed in a 2012 study published in Australasian Psychiatry, which indicated that weighted blankets successfully decreased distress and visible signs of anxiety.

Depression, anxiety, aggression, OCD, PTSD, and bi-polar disorder have all been linked to low serotonin levels in the brain, which weighted blankets are reported to assist with. In addition, people battling with depression, mania, anxiety, trauma and paranoia, or undergoing detoxification have reported relief from symptoms.

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Weighted blankets have reportedly helped patients suffering from a lot of different diseases and disorders, from autism, to Tourette’s, Alzheimer’s Disease, Cerebral Palsy, Restless Leg Syndrome, and even can help alleviate menopausal symptoms.

How to use weighted blankets

The weight of the blanket will depend on your size and personal preference, but the typical weight for adults is around 15 to 30 pounds in the blanket.

Here’s a recommendation on how heavy the blanket should be for different people:[6]

    Experts recommend seeking the guidance of a doctor or occupational therapist if you have a medical condition.

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    Do not use weighted blankets if you are currently suffering from a respiratory, circulatory, or temperature regulation problem, or are recuperating post surgery.

    Where to get a good weighted blanket

    There are many website where you can purchase a weighted blanket in tons of choices of fabric and weight.

    There are specifically blanket shops such as Magic Blanket, created by product developer, Keith Zivalich in California, which have children’s blankets that are 36 inches wide, and adult blankets, which run 42 inches across.

    Another good option is Mosaic Weighted Blankets which sells all-cotton versions.

    Therapy and special needs stores like National Autism Resources also sells weighted blanket. Amazon, Etsy and Ebay all sell them as well.

    Or you can even make your own like this:

    You can find weighted blankets in a variety of sizes, colors, and fabrics. Using weighted blanket is a simple change that can improve your mental health and make a huge difference in your life. Start looking for (or making) one that suits you most!

    Reference

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