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Creative Block: Shake Inspiration Loose

Creative blocks are too real, and when they strike it can be discouraging and frustrating to say the least, especially if they last longer than a day or two. However, blocks are a natural part of the creative process, no matter how much we wish them away. But there is good news - there are things you can do to overcome, accept and even learn to appreciate the creative block.

Creative Block

The block is feared by all creatives, the last vestiges of inspiration slip away into the abyss and the muse retreats into the sunset without you. Here’s the thing though, creativity lives within you, the creator. Sure there are times it gets frustrating, when our creative vision seems to have disappeared, but it always comes back.

Whether you call it writer’s block, artistic vision impairment or hitting the wall creative block can occur for several reasons.

Burnout: Burnout occurs when you hit the wall; your energy levels plummet, your will power is at an all time low and your body and brain are shutting down. All of this to say burnout is the result of a lack of self care, a lack of listening to our body and complete exhaustion. This can happen for a lot of reasons, some of which being stress, too many projects on the go, poor time management, lack of prioritization and inability to maintain healthy habits around your physical and mental health while creating.

When burnout strikes it is a sign to step back and feed your soul, nourish your body and unplug your mind. In essence REST and REPLENISH. For many creatives creativity can feel like resting, like you're feeding your soul and resting from the grind of daily life, but sometimes creativity can also be a cause of burnout. Know that stepping away from your creativity to care for yourself doesn’t mean it’s forever. Breaks often fuel inspiration, giving you that zest for creating once you’re out of the hole and back to life again.

Overwhelm: When we have too many things going on creatively or outside of your creative life it can all add up to being too damn much! I say overwhelm because it can encompass a myriad of conditions; stressed out, anxiety, insecurities, over stimulation, lack of focus. When everything feels like it’s too much, there isn’t enough time in the day and you have too much to fit in, overwhelm sets in and shuts your brain down. That creative epicenter has no power left to create because it is trying to solve the problem of fitting everything in or juggling appointments. Getting stuck in the chaos that can come with daily life happens, but it is a season that lasts only a short while.

Take a step back, again, I'm not saying quit creativity forever, but sometimes life happens and needs all of our energy to survive and thrive. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed and emotionally spent, there are so many things and people that rely on us and need things from us; taking care of them is important but so is taking care of you! Make sure you don’t neglect yourself in the overwhelm because the recovery of that will take twice as long. Admit and feel your emotions. You don’t have to be strong to create, you don’t have to push through and hustle to be creative, sometimes that’s a requirement, but often we can close the door and give ourselves a break to recenter, refocus and decompress.

Mental Exhaustion: Your brain gets tired! It processes so much information in a day and comes up with beautiful creative projects and how to execute said projects and how to problem solve the little things everyday and deal with the big questions everyday and plans dinner and remembers where you left your keys when you got back from yoga class and has a running checklist that is constantly being updated and added to and… Mental exhaustion is real, separate to burnout. Your mind can only do so much in a day, and sometimes we ask too much of it, especially when we expect it to crank out novel idea after novel idea and each one be more impressive, bigger and more unique than the last. We simply cannot keep our mental capacity firing at such a high level all the time. It is a disservice to our brain and a disservice to our creativity.

The key here is rest. Instead of asking your brain to come up with the next big creative thing in the middle of planning dinner and scheduling tomorrow's appointments in your head, take a break. Instead of asking for more, give it something to work with; read a book, watch a documentary or favourite movie, go to a museum; take in creative stimulation, look at beautiful things, engage with joy and appreciate the works of others to feed yourself. Give as much as you take and your brain will thank you for it.

Practical Ways to Shake things loose when your up against the Block

Literally Shake It - When all else fails sometimes movement is the best medicine. Turn up your favourite tunes and get your dance party on! Alternatively, a stretch session, a little shimmy and shake to get rid of those muscle aches. Movement gets the blood flowing, relaxes the body and disengages your brain. It also helps improve brain activity and memory retention as well.

Take a break in Nature - Nature is one of the most quoted sources of inspiration ever. A change of scenery is also known to help the mind shift and the expectation to do nothing but take in beauty is a great way to self care and give your brain a break all at once.

Meditation - This one doesn’t work for me personally, but many creatives find success through meditation and mindfulness exercises as a way to clear the mind, take stock and be open to inspiration as it comes to you. Find a quiet spot, a comfy chair, your favourite window and do some breath work and intention setting. It could be the big break you’re looking for.

Self Care - broad advice I know, but hear me out. You can’t get water from an empty well - I am sure I’ve heard this somewhere before, but can’t remember the source. You have to replenish your creative well in order to draw from it. Do what you need to do - have a bath, take a walk, read a book, fix a home cooked meal, workout, curl up with the kids for a movie night, indulge in your skincare routine (can you tell I’m trying to make this one a habit?). Feed your own body, mind and soul before asking any more from them.

Clean your Chaos - Whether figuratively or literally, sometimes our environment and mental state affect us more than we know. Take stock of how you're feeling and deal with those emotions to figuratively clean your chaos. Your environment is just as important. Even for those who can function is a little bit of organized chaos or general disarray it can be wearing. Let the environment reflect the new cleanliness of your mind and take some time to put things in order in your creative space or other prominent spaces in your life.

Sometimes doing nothing is far better than pushing through. But when you’re doing nothing you are recharging and gathering inspiration whether you recognize it at the time or not. Distraction is the best way to reignite that creative spark and get the wheels turning again.

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