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5 Steps to Get Creative Again

5 Steps to Get Creative Again

Each of us has a ‘creative bone’ in our body, even the ones who insist that they don’t. The only problem is that we rarely find time to tap into our creativity. Even when we finally make a decision of making time for something creative, it’s hard to determine what to start with! There are so many possibilities, so many classes available in any community. What do we start off with?

Here are 5 steps to get creative again:

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1. Practice awareness of your stream of consciousness.

Make a point of spending 15 minutes a day to write/type everything that is going through your mind. It sounds easy, but once you try it out, you’ll find that sometimes your stream of thoughts is not singular. Maybe there are 5 of those streams flowing at the same time. It is up to you to focus on one of them or to switch back and forth between several of them.

Do not hesitate to write nonsense or ‘empty’ sentences such as “My pencil is purple, I can’t wait to eat pizza for lunch and I have no idea why I started writing this.” This is totally acceptable. You are not aiming to publish it in New York Times. This is just an exercise that will help you tune into the thoughts that you are having in the ‘background’.

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2. Make a list of the most prominent ideas/thoughts that came up in your writing.

It can be embarrassing to re-read all the stuff that you spilled on paper/screen in the previous week, but remember that this is for your eyes ONLY. No one will ever see it except you, and right now your job is to find patterns, or a lack of them, in your writing. What themes/topics/ideas came up in your writing most often? If nothing came up more than once, take note of that too. Then create a separate file and record the ideas/thoughts that you found funny, interesting or just odd. In other words, see what caught your eye or what surfaced in your writing more than once.

For example, when I was working through this exercise, I noticed that I wrote about my emotions, memories of friends and family. I also noticed that topics related to sports and painting/photography came up very often as well.

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3. Pick 3 ideas/topics/activities from the list that you made and dedicate at least 15 minutes to one of these activities over the course of the next few weeks.

This is simply to make sure that you REALLY enjoy the activity/idea that you were thinking of. For example, once upon a time, a friend of mine thought that her new ‘calling’ was rope walking. After I convinced her to go to a local park to practice it for only 15 minutes with the people who often practiced rope walking, she quickly realized that it’s not her ‘thing’ simply because she found the activity a bit repetitive. Of course, this was not an objective opinion, but it was HER opinion – and that’s all that matters for the creativity recovery project. Embracing your tastes, strengths and weaknesses is the key here.

4. Take a one-time class or spend a whole afternoon working on an activity/mini project of your choice.

Many people think that as soon as they ‘discovered’ a talent in something – let’s say in art – they need to spend a fortune and a ton of time to practice it. Taking a one-time class or just thinking of a mini project that takes several hours is quite enough to get started.

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5. Set a measurable goal: prepare to showcase your work/skills/ideas – motivate and inspire others!

Scheduling time slots for ‘creative time’ simply won’t work because ‘work time’ always tends to invade the ‘creative time’. Instead, pick a clear goal to work towards. Is your local library hosting a mini art exhibit? Are there any writers’ clubs in your area that host fee mic nights? Is there a fund-raising 5K run/walk taking place in your community? Small events are great for ‘showing off’ a skill that you acquired, to voice the ideas that you’ve been thinking of and to motivate others to do the same. Your first speech at Toastmasters might not move others to tears, and you might end up being the last one at the finish line of your first 5K run, but working towards a clear measurable goal will be a lot easier than endlessly trying to make your creation ‘perfect’. You have your entire life to perfect your skills. Showcasing your progress will not only serve as a motivation to you, but will also inspire others.

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Mariya Boyko

Mathematics teacher, curriculum developer

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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