Did your brain ever choose to resign just when you needed it to function at its optimal capacity? For example, if you are a creative professional in the graphic design field, you might have surely faced this situation not just once, but several times. The need to deliver original designs to every single client you serve, the compulsion to adhere to your deadline commitments for every project that you handle, and to remain optimally creative even while performing revisions for the fourth time may put you off balance. And the personal sphere around you would also demand an equal attention from your side and so at the end of the day, you would feel completely burned out and lost and may even fail to have any clue about what you should cook for dinner.
In this article, we would guide you on how you can use your time and energy fruitfully without letting stress dominate your work schedules or overall behavior. Whether you are a professional in the dynamic filed of animation or an artist delivering illustration services, you should ideally start this exercise by freeing yourself from the thought that you have to be creative.
1. Creating a feel of Psychological Safety
When you are already stressed, giving yourself stringent goals would do you more harm and trigger the fight-or-flight response. This would actually bring the least creative part of your brain into work, which would promote the generation of less-than-satisfactory outcomes. So you should say to yourself- “I will experiment with some ideas and explore possibilities” rather than committing to yourself “I would have to be creative.” By creating this feel of psychological safety, you would be able to save yourself from the devastating effects of performance pressure.
2. Inducing the diffuse-thinking state
When you succeed in developing a feel of psychological safety, you should do some activities that would bring you to the diffuse-thinking mode. With this approach, your brain will relax and function in a looser manner while being able to establish connections with its other parts. When you withdraw yourself from a focused-thinking mode, you would be able to bring in free thought to your mind. Take short breaks and engage in activities such as walking, eating snacks, or calling up a friend.
3. Avoiding Multi-tasking
Avoid multi-tasking and focus on a specific idea. For example, think of how you can develop a stunning brochure for your client’s latest promotional campaign. Or think how you can create a perfect logo that can reflect your client’s brand identity. Try not to be judgmental about your thoughts. Let your ideas flow naturally and never bother about thought quality or quantity. This is the reason why creative studios hire specialists to carry out every specific task. For example, if you are a graphic designer who specializes in creating business logos, keep focusing on your work and try to be a leader in your niche. If you excel in creating illustrations for children’s books, so things that would nourish your visual storytelling skills. If you are a champion at creating marketing collateral such as flyers, brochures, or email templates, continue to develop further in your area of specialization. Your specialization would take you to the height of success.
4. Finding a Happier Place
Peaceful environments would help you beat stress and keep you in high spirit. You may find solace beside a beautiful lake or a park or in your favorite historic library or coffee shop. Ask yourself what type of surroundings would inspire you and seek pleasure by being in those environments, which would allow you to develop positive thoughts.
5. Talking to others and collaborating
Find more material to allow your brain to come up with new thoughts. Check what other people in your field of activity are doing. Talk to experts and check some samples. This might help you discover new perspectives to address your own unique situation. Collaborate with your colleagues and make an optimal use of brainstorming sessions. Two or more brains work better than one brain. So discuss about an idea with others to challenge your viewpoints and promote the birth of new thoughts.
6. Giving yourself more time
When you give yourself more time and allow yourself to get rejuvenated, you would be able to demonstrate a more creative approach. You should allow your brain some time to develop ideas. This way, you would be able to find your creativity back.
Here’s what you should do to beat stress and to let your creativity define your performance excellence:
- Pamper your physical self.
Ensure that you get at least a few minutes of “I” time daily. This may be as simple as a hot bath session with aromatic candles feeling your senses.
- Find something that calms your mind.
If you feel confined inside your cubicle, try to make it more soothing. Keep a potted plant of your choice or sip into a cup of refreshing herbal tea.
- Allow sunrays to touch you.
A sunnier environment can boost your mood too. Make sure that you get access to natural light while you work. Whether you work in an open environment under a tree or you work in your cubicle, beams of sunshine would always keep your spirit boosted.
- Look through the window.
By allowing yourself to look out of the window, you would permit your brain to relax. For example, if you are creating a storyboard illustration for a children’s book, you may want to find some inspirations for your work from the natural beauty that surrounds your workplace. Even if you don’t get to see much of nature, you can still get some inspiration by focusing your attention to the outside environment.
- Put down your thoughts on a piece of paper.
When you write down your feelings, you provide an outlet to your mind. Write down about a new idea, your latest worries, or anything that comes to your mind instantly. This would not only refresh your mind, but may also help you develop new perspective about things around you. That way, you will be better equipped to handle a specific work-related situation.
- Listen to music.
Music has a healing effect. Listen to your favorite tunes and allow yourself to unwind in a serene environment.
- Engage in brief workout sessions.
Brief workout sessions between work schedules are great stress-busters. If you love dancing or if you are a Zoomba enthusiast, you may find it to be quite easier to incorporate these workout sessions in your schedule. The additional gush of oxygen would stimulate your creative side.
- Solve a crossword puzzle.
Brain games such as a crossword puzzle demand your maximum focus, thereby taking your thoughts away to some other direction and helping you eliminate what has been bothering you so much.
- Smell your favorite natural fragrance.
Keep a vase of your favorite flowers at your work desk. Sniff them whenever you feel the need to let a fresh wave of energy gush through your mind.
- Try aromatherapy.
Mix a few drops of your favorite essential oils, rub them into your hands, and breathe in. These aromas have a healing effect that can help you beat stress and anxiety.
- Grab a cup of coffee.
Take short coffee breaks. The rejuvenating smell of the beans coupled with the stimulating effect of caffeine would steal away all your stress.
- Spend time with your pet.
Brief play- times with your furry friend can help you put your stress away.
- Call up a friend.
Even if you have a busy schedule, you may want to find some time to call up your best friend and share your feelings. Brief text sessions are also fine if you are pressed for time too much.
- Plan a trip.
Browse through beautiful photos of vacation spots and plan for a future trip. Planning for a vacation is itself a stress-busting exercise.
- Perform meditation.
You do not need to necessarily be a yogi in order to be able to practise meditation holistically. You even do not need to bother too much about clearing your mind before the exercise. Even five minutes of meditation may prove to be beneficial for you.
Do you know that creative people can handle stress better?
So far, we have been discussing about how you can stay creative while being able to beat stress all along the way, but now we are going to surprise you with facts that link stress and creativity in a different way. Do you know that creative people consider obstacles as opportunities? Creative people are more likely to view stress as a challenge that they can overcome easily.
What is more interesting is that your creativity and the creative works that you engage in are great stress busters themselves. In a study, researchers asked forty people to create works of art for a period of 45 minutes and they found that 75 percent of the participants registered a fall in the level of cortisol, which is a hormone secreted by the human body to respond to stress. This study proved that creative stimulation allows people to relax and focus on the task at hand and this way, it helps people overcome the feelings of anxiety and stress. In other others, the more you remain creative and engage yourself in creative works, the higher would be your potential to beat stress. When you make a productive use of your mind, you would find yourself to be lost in your creative activity and your brain would secrete ‘happiness-inducing’ chemicals such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
So what’s your takeaway at the end of the day? Yes, you got it right. You can actually beat stress by allowing your creative prowess to reach its optimal potential. And you can be optimally creative if you really love the work that you are doing. If you are passionate about the work that you do, you won’t ever feel the stress of engaging yourself with it. Think about it!