If you are a creative, you know what it’s like to have your work tied up with who you are.
Who you are and what you do are inseparable, and the rewards are high, but so are the costs.
You work crazy hours and feel the pressure of high expectations, leaving you stressed out and often skipping the very things you know will make you feel better.
When your stressed and working from this place the parts of your brain responsible for survival (the limbic system) gets activated.
And when the limbic system is fully activated it puts the creativity and higher functioning part of your brain (the prefrontal cortex) into power saving mode.
Often when we find ourselves in this place of overwhelm, instead of slowing down and taking the actions we know will help us feel better, we clench our teeth, move even faster, and just push ahead.
The Pressure Is On
Maybe you feel the pressure of a deadline, so you don’t stop, but you also don’t get some of the basic things like showering and eating a meal done either.
Or, you want what you're working on to be awesome and inspiring but you feel stuck obsessing over the details.
Physically, not pausing to check in with what you need feeds the cycle of stress by not giving yourself the care and the fuel you need to be productive and creative.
Psychologically, not pausing to check in with what you need feeds the cycle of stress because it buys into the fear that things are going to fall apart if you take a break. You are affirming to yourself that this is true.
Whether it's a deadline or perfectionism that’s putting on the pressure, pushing on is not going to get you the results you want.
When you try to keep going, keep creating, and keep performing - even though you know you are not functioning at your best - you will end up burnt out.
The number one thing you can do when you find yourself feeling blocked creatively is to shift your focus from being productive to being grounded.
Take It Off
Take the pressure off and reconnect with yourself. Allow yourself a minute to take some deep full breaths.
Or take five minutes to lay on the ground, look up at the ceiling or even better the sky, and listen to your heartbeat.
Turn off your phone. Turn off the noise. Turn off the pressure.
Trust that you will be able to create all that you want to create. Connect with the part of you that started doing this kind of work because you love it.
Find the things that fill you up and make you feel excited about life.
I believe creativity springs out of feelings of excitement, joy, curiosity, openness, and newness.
So take the time, because taking the time for you will leave you feeling happier and healthier. And the bonus is that your work will benefit too! Because you are what you do.
And if taking that time feels like a huge challenge, reach out.
Reach out to a friend or a colleague. I am always here too. I would love to hear from you. I offer groups and wilderness retreats all aimed at helping creatives make the time to disconnect to reconnect.