At some point, you hit a creative mental block that leaves you caught in a cycle of frustration and desperation that simply compounds the problem. Mental blocks are typically the result of stress or a loss of focus. Luckily, there are many ways that you can face a mental block head on and enhance your creative thinking process.
1. Get it down on paper
Journaling, specifically a process known as freewriting, uses the act of writing to encourage you to clear your mind of clutter and allowing you to focus. Freewriting is simply writing whatever comes to mind down on paper whether it relates to your creative pursuits or not. Then, you can go back and sift through your writing to pull out the parts that are relevant or inspirational.
If writing isn’t your thing, a sketchbook can provide you with a similar experience. Sketch out your ideas, try new color combinations or techniques without constraint. You can also use your sketchbook as a source of inspiration if a mental block occurs again.
2. Go back to nature
Nature has long been a source of inspiration for creative thinkers, but beyond this, nature can help you break through creative mental blocks by removing the distractions of everyday life and allowing your mind to wander and make associations you may not have considered. Studies suggest that even 30 minutes spent outside can have a significant effect on your mood and thinking patterns. Nature also offers the best color palette to help calm a noisy mind.
If you can’t get outside, bring nature into your creative space. Plants, crystals and gemstones in soothing natural tones can create a calming atmosphere and reduce stress. They also offer plenty of other health benefits such as purifying the air.
3. Move more
There is a reason they say that a healthy mind lives in a healthy body. Exercise forces you to make a strong mind-body connection which allows you to become present and mindful. Both are important factors in boosting creativity. Exercise also causes your body to release the hormones serotonin and dopamine which elicit feelings of euphoria and well-being and reduce fear and stress.
Make exercise a regular part of your daily routine. Do exercises you enjoy and are comfortable doing, whether that is a morning yoga session, laps at the pool or lifting weights.
4. Try something new
Science suggests that creativity occurs when the brain makes connections between unrelated concepts. One way to break through a creative mental block is to increase your neural pathways–and one of the best ways to do this is to learn something new.
Try learning something unrelated to your field. The more repetitive the task, the faster your brain will make new connections. Jewelry-making is a great way to combine creativity with focused attention or you can boost the creative side of your brain by learning a new language.
5. Tune in
Music has the power to affect how we think and feel, and businesses are increasingly using music to improve productivity and creativity. However, not all music will do the trick.
Different musical styles and sounds promote activity in different areas of the brain. Music with specific soothing notes can boost serotonin levels in the brain and relieve depression, while other tones can improve alertness. Hemi sync music is said to boost Alpha brain waves which have been associated with decreased stress and increased creativity.
6. Tune Out
Mindful meditation has become common practice in business as a way to eliminate stress, but it also has a significant impact on your creativity. The key to meditation is to tune out the background noise that can clutter your thinking and enhance the important factors that contribute to creative thought–lateral thinking, focus and resilience.
Studies suggest that even 10 minutes of mindful meditation can help eliminate a creative block. But, if you think that you can’t set aside time for meditation, one of the best places to practice mindful meditation is in the shower. Shower meditation takes only 5 minutes out of your busy morning and can prepare you for a productive day of creative thinking.
7. Get bored
It may sound counterintuitive; however, sometimes doing the least creative tasks can stimulate the most creative thinking. If you are suffering a mental block, take a break to perform some menial tasks around the house or office.
Do the dishes, vacuum the floor or organize your inbox. Any task that does not require too much thought will leave your mind free to look at your creative problems from a new perspective, and the feeling of accomplishing these small tasks can give you the momentum you need to get over this creative hurdle.
8. Change your environment
The jury is still out on whether clutter helps or hinders your creative process. Some studies suggest that a messy desk can stimulate creative thinking, while other studies concluded that a clutter-free environment is better for boosting focus. It has even been shown that certain stones, like Amethyst, help produce mental clarity. Whatever the state of your environment, changing, organizing or tidying your creative space can have a positive impact on your creativity.
Try changing the position of items on your desk or removing them altogether. Take your work to a different location such as a coffee shop or a local park. Simply changing your environment can give you a changed mindset and may give you a different perspective on your creative problem.
9. Take a tech detox
Technology is a huge part of our lives, but more studies are suggesting that excessive exposure to technology can overstimulate our brains and increase our stress levels. Give your brain some downtime by taking a tech detox.
Unplug your TV and computer, leave your phone in another room and find a space where you can think without distractions. Regular tech detoxes can improve mental processing and improve your concentration to enhance your creativity. It can also help you sleep better which, in turn, can help you to regulate the stress hormones in your body.
10. Talk it over
A problem shared is a problem halved. Simply talking about your creative block with another like-minded person can help you to feel less pressure and consequently less stress.
Talking can also stimulate new ideas and give you a fresh perspective on your creative problem. If your creative block is affecting your work, consider working collaboratively with another colleague to help share the physical and mental load.
Don’t let a creative mental block stand in the way of you producing amazing ideas. Try some of these simple methods to clear away the clutter in your mind and get those creative juices flowing.