The pandemic has been stressful for everyone, and for the majority of people has led to an increase in time at home and alone time. For some people, this has meant more time – and more inspiration – for creative projects. For others, it’s the opposite: they’re struggling to feel any inspiration.
Creative activities are when you make or participate in an enjoyable and fulfilling project. Whether you like to write, paint, draw, craft, cook, play music or do something else entirely, these are all examples of creative activities.
Reconnecting with your creativity can help improve your mental health during the pandemic and beyond. There have been several studies that explored how creativity can improve moods and cognitive health [1, 2, 3]. These studies explored a variety of creative activities, including visual arts, music, and writing.
Here are some ways you can stimulate your creativity.
1. Accept mistakes
Some people get frustrated when a creative project doesn’t turn out exactly how they wanted. If you’re constantly wanting everything to be perfect, you may find yourself struggling with your creativity. It can be discouraging to make or find a mistake, but instead of giving up on your creative endeavour, embrace it.
Practice reframing your view on mistakes. Don’t think of them as flaws, but as details that make your creative project unique. And remember – practice will help you make improvements to your skills in all areas of life.
2. Check in with your mood
How are you feeling today?
Your mood can impact your creativity. Studies have shown that positive moods can enhance creativity. So, if you’re feeling unhappy, angry, or sad, you may not want to engage in a creative activity.
Don’t push yourself to be creative if it’s not helping your mood. Instead, turn your attention to other ways you can make yourself happy.
3. Collaborate with others
Creativity doesn’t have to be a solo mission. Often asking for feedback from others or collaborating on a creative project with friends/family will help jumpstart your imagination.
We’ve all been there – we’re supposed to be focusing on one thing, but our mind wanders. Why not let it?
You should keep safety in mind (you don’t want to daydream while cooking or doing your exercises), but having some daydreaming time can be a great way to spark creativity. Keep a journal close at hand so that if you have a good idea, you can jot it down.
5. Dedicate a space to creating
Many people are working, living, and entertaining themselves at home. This means a lot of home areas are serving multiple purposes. For example, dining room tables have become offices and homework stations. When an area serves multiple roles, it can feel hard to escape to a creative place.
It may take some reorganizing, but if creative projects are a priority for you, dedicating a space in your home can help give you the separation you need to be creative.
6. Don’t compare yourself to others
You are your own person, and what you create is uniquely yours. It’s important not to compare yourself to others who have more years of experience or do things differently than you. This will only lead to discouragement, and may make you want to stop creating altogether.
Exercise is another building block of healthy daily living. When you feel good and let your mind take a break by focusing just on the exercise, you will feel refreshed both physically and mentally.
Remember, there are several different forms of exercise, and any sort of movement or activity has benefits.
8. Get outdoors
Fresh air and outdoor activity is an important part of taking care of your overall health and well-being. It can improve your mood, make you feel more energetic, and help your mental health and creativity.
9. If you don’t love something, don’t be afraid to walk away
Creativity thrives when you enjoy the activity. If you don’t love painting or drawing or writing or any other extracurricular/hobby, you don’t have to keep doing it. There are hundreds of ways you can spend your time, and you should spend it enjoying yourself.
10. Journal your thoughts
There’s a lot of thoughts running through our minds at any given point, particularly during stressful times such as a pandemic. If you’re working on your recovery, balancing work, and coping with a pandemic all at the same time, that’s a lot of thoughts racing through your mind. It can be overwhelming.
Journaling your thoughts can be a way to get them out of your mind and help you process the information. It can also leave your mind free for more creative activities.
11. Keep an inspiration list
Anything can be a source of inspiration. Maybe you follow a crafting blog; maybe you saw a video on your social media. Wherever you find inspiration, write it down or bookmark it on your computer. When you need ideas or inspiration, you can use that list as a resource.
12. Listen to music
While some people work well in silence, others need more background noise. Or maybe you need to shake things up. Music is an excellent way to improve your mood while simultaneously helping spark creativity.
13. Reset with meditation
Sometimes we need to walk away from what we’re doing in the moment and have a reset. Meditation can help you clear your mind, find your focus, and give yourself a rest.
14. Take a break
While there is something to be said for perseverance, sometimes taking a break from an activity or project can do just as much good for your creativity. Giving your brain a break and turning your attention to something else may trigger your imagination.
If you find yourself struggling, remove yourself from the situation and try something else (grab a snack, take a nap, put on a television show – anything that will help you rest).
15. Trust your gut and make more spontaneous decisions
Creativity often comes from trying new things. But many of us want to take some extra time to think before we come to a yes or no decision. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, if creativity is something you’re struggling with right now, thinking a little less may actually help.
Aim to be a bit more spontaneous by trusting your first instinct. This could be about trying new activities, new foods, new books – anything you want! You may discover new things about yourself in the process.
If you are someone who needs assistance with impulsive behaviours, keep in mind that this tip is specifically for creative projects. When in doubt, ask someone you trust for their opinion on your decision.