The Creativity Cure

Feb 24, 2021
The Creativity Cure

We touched last week on the concept of flow – an optimal state of consciousness where you feel and perform at your best. 

I just want to develop that a little, particularly in terms of how flow might be used to reduce anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed. 

One thing is for certain – science knows that living in a state of stress and having time constraints drastically reduces our ability to be creative. 

The body’s stress hormones of epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol are priming our body for running away from a threat or fighting for our lives. It isn’t preparing us to write the next Harry Potter anthology. 

There’s little point in being creative when you’re under threat. 

But one thing that has been noted by research as well, is that if you can free yourself from distractions, slow down and relax then two things happen. 

Firstly you move from fight/flight sympathetic arousal and into the rest/digest parasympathetic phase. 

This slows the body down, turns off the stress response and allows healing to take place. 

It also gives you space for creativity. 

Sadly the go-to for so many of us, when we have downtime, is the internet and TV, rather than navel-gazing and contemplation. And that’s where we miss the creativity boat. 

Creativity and flow are best accessed from a space where we have little on our minds and relatively few distractions. 

This would appear to allow certain parts of the brain to create connections between them and come up with new ideas of how to be creative. 

Whether it’s taking an art class, writing a blog or practicing the piano anything that can allow us to fully immerse ourselves in an activity is going to be good for us. 

And the even better news is that the more we can spend in that space, the more we can reduce our stress levels and return to some baseline of normality. 

There are many books written on the power of creativity to reduce anxiety, depression and burnout. 

There’s even some research that suggests people with anxiety are naturally more creative, if they can just get out of their own way and actually start producing, they might well find talents that they had never even suspected to belong to them. 

And the key to that is having sufficient downtime and periods of quiet reflection – that’s when the anxiety lessens and the great ideas come forth. 

So who knows, perhaps you ARE the next JK Rowling after all. 

But as a way to overcome exhaustion, overwhelm, low mood and energy levels creativity is a powerful tool to have in your arsenal.