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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 August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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