Friday 5: Five Ways to Find Creative Inspiration Under Stress

I apologize for the light posting schedule around here lately. My working life has been busier than ever, which has been good, but my personal life has been full of all. the. feelings! Everything is fine, just normal life ups and downs, but anyone whose work revolves around creativity can probably relate. When your day-to-day is centered around the thoughts in your brain, it can be crazy difficult to function when stressors are in play. When something like focusing your thoughts is just taking too much effort, it's nearly impossible to be bursting with life-changing creative ideas.

So I thought instead of continuing to fight my head, I'd tell you all what I do when I've hit my mental walls. How to continue working and creating when it's the farthest thing from your mind.


Desk- Coffee, Glasses, Clips

1. Get a New Perspective.

I mean this one as literally as possible. If you have the option to leave your physical work space- do it. Studies have shown that ambient noise, such as coffeehouse chatter, can boost productivity in creative brains. In fact, any new scenery and sounds can actually trigger the brain to think abstractly, helping to generate creative ideas. On days when you're not hitting up your local coffee shop, you can turn to Coffivity, which mimics this effect by providing the perfect amount of distracting sounds to get the creative juices flowing.


Girl in Black with Hat

2. Get Moving.

Exercise is incredible in that it can leave you feeling equally calm and energized. A perfect combo for tackling any problem. If just the word exercise already has you moaning and groaning, look at it in its smallest, simplest form: walking. In my experience a short brisk walk can do amazing things for an overly stressed mind. Taking a walk in nature has added inspirational bonuses, as does an entertaining podcast or an uplifting song. Throw in all three and I guarantee you'll finish your walk with a clearer, more focused outlook.


Cooking Prep

3. Occupy Yourself.

I'm sure you've had this moment. You're driving yourself crazy trying to think of a solution to something until finally you give up and move one. Then later that day while you're doing the dishes, the heavens suddenly open up and hand deliver the exact conclusion you had been trying desperately to reach. It seems counterintuitive, but when you're feeling stuck, sometimes tuning out a little can be the best method to reaching that a-ha moment. Now I don't think this means you should blow everything off when you're frustrated. But move on to things that need done that perhaps require less mental energy. For me, anything that involves using my hands- cleaning, organizing, drawing, sewing, etc.- are usually what put my mind most at rest, leaving me open to new ideas.


Watercolor Sketch Pad

4. Look to the Arts.

This one seems a little obvious, but art is probably the most stirring source of inspiration available. I love going to art museums, concerts, and watching dance because, even though they don't have anything to do with what I do, these things really fuel my need to create. The work of someone else can bring up all these thoughts and feelings within yourself, and when it really strikes a chord it's like unlocking a creative vault in your brain. But I understand a fine art museum is not everyone's thing, and I think that's fine. There are so many options when it comes to finding artistic inspiration, from shopping at a flea market to watching some really get tv and movies (I'm looking at you, Hugo). Just find people outside of your specific medium that are doing inspiring things and get inspired from them.


Cocktail Glasses

5. Give in.

Creative burnout is very real and sometimes you just have to give in to the universe and simply take a break. Now I'm not saying you should go gentle into that good night, but if you've gone through all the possible methods you have for getting creatively unstuck, and you're still just a blank slate, the time has come to take it easy on your self. Try and have a little faith in the process, respecting the ebb and flow of creativity. Rest, rejuvenate, and just focus on feeling like a human again. Take a little time to indulge in the luxuries, long a long bath, that you don't allow yourself when you are in a creative working frenzy. The urge to create will come back. The brilliant ideas will overflow once again. And you might be pleasantly surprised at their new form.


What do you do when you're lost for ideas? Share your genius ways with us in the comments!


PS: Do you love these photos? They're part of Death to Stock, a brilliant photo resource by Columbus creative mastermind, Allie Lehman, and her collaborator, David Sherry. It's an endless supply of great photos for blogs and business websites. Check it out! :)