The pandemic has caused significant disruption for many, and the change from working closely and collaboratively with colleagues to working in physical isolation is tough. While we might be seeing light at the tunnel with the rollout of vaccination programs across the globe, we can all be doing something to address the dreaded ‘creative block’ – especially when creativity is such a huge part of who we are and what we do. And it all stems from one thing: Dopamine.
Get that dopamine flowing
Neuroscience has shown that releasing dopamine helps us to be more creative. Once you’re in the zone – or in ‘flow’, your openness, curiosity and, above all, new thinking can have an extremely positive effect on your creative output.
“Being in flow refers to the enjoyable experience of complete engagement with an activity. Children engrossed in playing, artists wholeheartedly devoted to their craft, athletes fully focused on their sports, and workers finding pleasure in fluently doing their job, are just a few examples of flow.” – Fredrik Ullén, concert pianist and professor of cognitive neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm.
That’s all good, but when you’re suffering from a creative block, you’ve first got to kickstart the process before you even think about keeping it going. Here are just a few tips that will help you get back into that creative cycle:
1. Stimulate your creativity through exercise
Creativity sits in the right hemisphere of the brain and simple movement or exercise can stimulate this part of the brain. There is still a lot to learn about exercise and the release of dopamine, however, research shows that dopamine levels increase during exercise, and stay up for around two hours afterwards.
Lead researcher, Ruth Propper, says simple body movements can temporarily change the way the brain functions. Even squeezing a ball in your left hand can activate the right side of the brain and stimulate creativity.
For more perspective on how exercise can enhance your creativity check this post out.
2. Daydreaming is a good thing
Are you an incurable daydreamer? Good. Be proud of that. Allowing your mind to wander has been shown to have a fantastic effect on creativity since this state generates an incubation period for the brain, opening up your mind to different ways of approaching the tasks at hand.
But you need to create the right space to let it happen. Find out more from Dr. Heiner Boettger on how you can do just that.
3. Sleep is fantastic for creativity
Dreaming helps the brain process information when we sleep, leaving more room for creative synapses. It’s certainly individual how many hours of sleep we need, you know yourself best. Just make sure you prioritize sleep and you have set yourself up for more flow/creativity the next day. Intimacy also releases a complete cocktail of hormones that are good for you too, so if you have a partner, cuddle up!
Read more about sleep and the impact it can have on your creativity here.
4. Kids will teach you
Kids will take chances – they’re not afraid of getting things wrong. As we mature, our sense of adventure by trial and error gradually fades, but “if you’re not prepared to get things wrong, you will never come up with anything original,” says Sir Ken Robinson in one of the most viewed TED Talks ever made.
Ultimately, kids can teach you how to be more creative.
And if you’re spending time ‘being in the moment’ with your kids, you will soon start to feel that state of ‘flow’.
Watch the TED Talk (19 mins) with Sir Ken Robinson.
Still need to give yourself a boost?
I was interested to hear more from others around me, so I reached out to my friends and colleagues to see how they tackle their own creative blocks. Here’s what they had to say:
“I always go out for a 30-minute walk around a nearby lake during lunch hours”
“I go for a run outdoors, no matter the weather”
“I play loud music in my flat and dance on the floor. No really.”
“Taking a long hot shower in the middle of the day does the trick”
“I cook new meals from the ground up some days. It inspires me and then I get to enjoy them between meetings over the following days”
Still need some inspiration? Check out the creativity on demand checklist.