Cooking is a great way to distract yourself, and it can help to put you in a positive mindset. Putting ingredients together requires inspiration, and following new recipes can help you to experiment in a creative and useful way. Other creative pursuits such as painting or writing give you an outlet to express yourself, which helps you to bring new ideas to the fore. Learn a new language. A 2012 study carried out at Mashad University in Iran showed that when monolingual and bilingual students were asked to carry out a set of tests for creative thinking, the bilingual student performed better on every task.
Get outside and get those legs moving! According to a study carried out by a team at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, when lab animals were exposed to environments that allowed them to exercise, their general well-being and cognitive functions increased. By 'enriching' the animals’ environment, their brain function was improved. Enrich your environment by making time to get outside once a day. Physical activity is directly linked to improving memory and thinking skills. You can try running, yoga, or trampolining if you need more ideas.
Call a friend, or chat with a colleague if the issue is work-related. Conversations and group discussions on a topic get your creative thinking going. Input and ideas from others can inspire you because they can challenge or reaffirm your own ideas, or even make you look at the task from a totally new angle. Trying ideas out on someone else can also get you to really listen to what you’re asking them, perhaps leading to ideas and conclusions that you hadn’t seen before.
TED talks or Youtube can be a good way to find out more about a topic or to explore new concepts and ideas. Challenging yourself to find inspiration removes the passivity from waiting for inspiration to come. Listening to music raises cognitive activity and regulates your mood. Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of listening to music for inspiration. Music can reduce stress and anxiety and improve memory, increasing the brain’s potential for finding inspiration.
A blank canvas is daunting. Setting yourself some goals or limitations can make a task seem more achievable. Cutting a project into sections allows you to focus on the nitty-gritty, and makes it easier to pluck ideas from thin air. Whether you measure your limitations in pages, time-spent, topics covered or setting out what you need to do in a plan, this technique is useful for almost all kinds of work and is necessary for most creative pursuits.
Get up from your desk and make yourself coffee or tea, or pour a glass of water - whatever it is you need to gather your thoughts. Sitting in one space for hours on end agonising about being unable to find inspiration is probably the worst way to get inspired. Breaking up your working day with different projects allows you to review ideas with a fresh mind. Other tasks or projects may offer ideas that relate to whatever you’re stuck on. Making sure you put aside time to have a break, work-out, sleep, eat, rest, and socialise is important. It allows you to maintain a healthy lifestyle, ensuring that you can work to your best capabilities.
Now this is easier said than done, but it’s really important not to get obsessed in the search for inspiration. Stress and anxiety brought about by criticism from yourself or others can have a really damaging impact on your physical health, mental well-being, and ability to work creatively. There is no quick solution to being stuck, but keeping check on the voice inside your head is essential. Give yourself time, and be reasonable with your expectations.
by Janet Miller. Janet is a former Fortune 100 executive, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of JenReviews.com. She writes extensively and has been featured on Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post and MindBodyGreen.
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