Staying inspired is a battle every creative person faces at some point. But when creativity is the linchpin of your professional life, losing inspiration can cause much more damage than feeling frustrated, the nightmare of negotiating deadline extension for a start. *shudders*

A frustrating creative block can lead to acts of desperation that do more harm than good, especially when working on projects with tight deadlines. And frustration doesn’t exactly foster an environment for free-flowing creative expression, meaning the dreaded cycle often continues.

Inch by Inch, Inspiration's a Cinch

Oddly enough, it's generally the activities outside of work that improve productivity and creative output, rather than what takes place at our desk. Taking consistent measures (even small ones) in our personal lives to stoke our creative flame is the preferential solution.

Daily maintenance of your general wellbeing can work magic, for example.

design thinking illustration

Mental Energy Illustration by Anatolii Babii

As 21st-century life is so busy, we can forgive ourselves for scrimping on daily wellbeing in an attempt to keep up. In these cases, emergency measures are necessary.

This article discusses quick fixes for those looming deadlines when your nose is too close to the grindstone to come up for air and general maintenance measures to keep you inspired to create regularly.

Try a New Discipline

It's far too easy to get super focused on the ins and outs of the work we do in our professional lives. Being this involved with a single project can make us rigid, hinder our creativity, and evaporate the inspiration needed to produce impeccable outcomes.

Just because you're creating for a living doesn't mean you can't indulge your inner child with some playtime. Attempting a new discipline in your spare time can help loosen up your imagination and get those creative juices flowing.

"Play is the highest form of research."
Albert Einstein

Without those high professional stakes looming over your shoulder, you can experiment and make the mistakes necessary for us humans to get better at the creativity schtick. Plus, there is no need to critique the outcomes as you go because the ultimate aim is to let loose and have fun.

"We don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents."
Bob Ross

If you work in applications or web programming or web/digital design, try a hands-on craft like collage or crochet. If you work in the art world, experiment with digital design and different technology. You can access downloadable crafter packs, graphics, and illustrations from Design Bundles to get started.

Meditate

Business behemoths Google, Goldman Sachs, and Apple offer mindfulness classes to their employees to negate stress's adverse effects. And Apple founder, Steve Jobs, practiced mindfulness when facing creative challenges.

While meditation is a tool best practiced consistently (every day in an ideal world), it is a useful emergency measure to take in those moments of creative crisis. Just 10 to 12 minutes of mindfulness meditation can enhance creativity and innovation.

"Mindfulness will make your life work better and your work life better. It's a win-win!"
Mirabai Bush (Adviser for Google's corporate mindfulness program)

Meditation helps us to come back to the present moment and gives our tired brains some much-needed respite. It's incredible how our minds can conjure innovative solutions to creative problems when we consciously redirect our attention elsewhere, even for a few moments.

YouTube has an abundance of free meditation videos; you can find affordable courses online or access meditations from apps like buddhify, Calm, and Headspace. You can also try breathing techniques, breathing in for the count of 3, and exhaling for 6, for example.

Get Outside (Safely)

Like meditation, getting some fresh air can become a daily habit and an 'in case of emergency break glass' kind of deal. Given the global pandemic of 2020 (if you're reading this in the future, remember how rubbish things became, and appreciate the post 'Rona' world), people, understandably, aren't rushing to get outside.

inspired creative professional

illustration by Hurca

But the benefits of taking a safe/socially distanced stroll far outweigh the costs. Being in the great outdoors increases oxygen levels in the blood, which means more for our beautiful brains, increasing energy and mental focus by proxy.

Whether you walk your pup every morning, or take an emergency lunchtime stroll around the block, soak in that fresh air, sweet friends. You will return to your desk reenergized, inspired, and ready to tackle that looming creative problem.

Prioritize Rest, Relaxation, and Self Care

Modern society deems perpetual busyness a noble pursuit. When not working, we're always encouraged to be, or at least look busy, like we're clerks moving merchandise around to keep the manager off our backs or something. In reality, we all need time to switch off from the world.

Keeping busy for the sake of it doesn't promote healthy doses of inspiration and improved productivity. However, getting adequate rest or taking time out for those activities that restore our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical wellbeing does.

Quality sleep improves our cognitive abilities, overall mood and promotes creativity. Self-care acts (aka doing something you love, or an activity that enables health and wellbeing) restores our inner ecosystem to a level in which creativity thrives. Prioritizing rest, relaxation, and self-care is a step toward continuous inspiration.

Practice Yoga

Movement is medicine for creative professionals in more ways than one. Creative professions often involve sitting for long periods, or repetitive motions like painting, typing, using a graphic tablet, or moving a mouse around. All of which causes pain/tension in our bodies -- particularly the neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, back, and hips.

There is nothing that kills inspiration or the will to work faster than physical pain. By practicing yoga, we can consciously stretch out these areas to keep us healthy/happy. Meanwhile, the mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits of yoga stretches and breathing techniques are also plentiful.

Doing a yoga routine first thing in the morning can get your day off to a positive start by improving your mood, cognitive function and fuelling inspiration. You can even find morning routines on YouTube specifically intended to spark your creativity and other practices to soothe physical aches and pains commonly associated with creative professions.

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