Oct. 28, 2018Think back to when you were a small child. Did you love crayons? Relish coloring as far outside the lines as possible? We’re willing to guess your answer to those questions would be a resounding YES. Perhaps you’re even getting a bit misty-eyed at the thought of your younger creative self, so fearless in your pursuit of color and a solid game of pretend, with no boundaries yet established in how far afield your dreams could roam.
Now, if you can, bring yourself back to the present — when was the last time you lost yourself in a project? One that didn’t have to do with work or school or your side hustle? For a lucky few, maybe the answer is as simple as “today” or “just last week”, but for the rest of us left scratching our heads, the truth may be more difficult to contend with.
Why is it that, as adults, we so easily abandon our creative instincts? We write ourselves off as not good enough at something or become too busy, or even worse, allow the “rules” to deter us from pursuing a new creative outlet, pushing aside the very things that often make us feel most alive. And we’re not just talking arts and crafts.
A yoga practice can be steeped in creativity, as can a running routine or a love of cooking or baking — when our lives are busy and overcrowded, it’s these practices that often get crossed off the calendar first. Any semblance of art making is cancelled, we skip out on yoga, make excuses to reschedule a run, and opt for fast and easy food in place of plates more artfully created.
It’s tempting — and quite easy — to write off creativity as a simple hobby, but it turns out creativity plays a far greater role in our lives than we give it credit for. Creativity and problem solving go hand in hand. Big project or presentation at work? It takes creativity to figure out how best to accomplish your task. Making a big meal for family and friends? You’ll need creativity to get through all those recipes and figure out how much to make. Even emergency situations are better handled when creativity is at play. States one study:
“… research on disasters has documented the importance of organisational emergence and individual role improvising to effective emergency responses. Yet those responsible for planning for crises continue to embrace approaches that emphasize centralized command and control and that discourage creativity.”
When we’re allowed to be creative — rather, when we allow ourselves to be creative — magic can happen. Our lives become richer, our performance at work improves, and even our response to crises can become more effective. If you’re having trouble breaking through your creative barrier, below are four easy strategies for nurturing creativity (yes, even if you “don’t have a creative bone in your body”).
Make space for creation
First and foremost, if your schedule is packed from morning ‘till night, you’ll never have time to tune out and tap into your creative side. Look at your calendar and find an hour in the next few days where you can simply focus on something you’re passionate about. Maybe you’ve been meaning to try a new recipe or ingredient. Perhaps you’ve been craving a trail run on an undiscovered path. Or you’re missing some quality time with your paints and canvas. Whatever it is, add it to your calendar and make it non-negotiable. While you’re at it, take a good hard look at your day to day and see what you can move or cross off. Without adequate time to breathe and think, creativity can flounder and wellbeing can suffer.
Practice yoga (yes, really!)
Whether you’re a practicing yogi or dream of becoming one, perhaps this will convince you: yoga could make you more creative. Specifically, Kundalini yoga. Kundalini is a blend of postures and mantras that many yogis credit with awakening artistic expression and getting their creative juices flowing. Yoga can also allow for a kind of playfulness that many adults may otherwise find difficult to express. Improvising, moving, chanting, and flowing with your body can bring back a sense of exploration that may be lying dormant. The next time you’re feeling blocked in your creative practice — try hitting the mat!
Get out of your comfort zone
As adults, we learn to stick with what we’re good at. Math, science, painting, cooking, the perfect downward-facing dog – we do what we know we can do, and we very rarely stray. The thought of taking a class or learning something new is enough to bring up bad memories of school and tests for most of us, but stepping beyond your comfort zone just might be key to getting more creative. Exploring something new allows for the type of improvising and problem solving that are directly related to creativity, whether you’re learning a new dish or picking up a camera instead of a paintbrush.
Set the screens aside
A surefire way to kill creativity? Screens. Yes, you can be creative on a computer, but the endless scroll of Instagram, allure of Facebook, and distraction of being online or attached to our phones can quickly eat up time and energy we might otherwise spend doing something messy, fun and tactile. The next time you’re getting into a project, place your phone in a separate room or turn it off completely to allow yourself to be fully immersed in the experience. You might be surprised at how quickly time passes when you’re focused on one thing – nurturing your creativity.
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