It’s there – somewhere. Perhaps it’s hidden deep beneath mummy-like bindings. You recall being much more creative when you were a child. You have mists of memories of how time seemed to stop while you were immersed in your project. Where did it go?
Creativity constricted by stress
Here are a number of ways in which stress affects your creativity:
- Your attention is consumed by whatever is stressing you. The spark of creativity doesn’t have a chance to ignite.
- Stress exhausts you, so you can’t devote the time or the energy to creating.
- Stress activates a different part of the brain, one that is designed for flight or fight. It’s all about survival, not creativity.
Necessity can be the mother of invention – in some cases! Do you remember the television show, MacGyver? Here was a character who combined his knowledge, courage and creativity into an ability to escape the seemingly inescapable. The very real possibility of death was motivation for survival.
However, most stress that you experience today is not truly a matter of life or death. Your body is running a program, one that was developed during pre-historic times to ensure survival. Rush hour traffic, work, long line-ups at the grocery store, or the management of family matters may be some of the many stressors you experience in the course of your day. Without techniques to transform your stress, you are creating more stress. Cortisol, the stress hormone can stay in your body for up to thirteen hours. It is cumulative. (Just how long does it take you to unwind during vacation?) This is not good for you, your family, nor for what you really want to do – like be more creative.
Stress also unfairly colours your perceptions. Chances are that you are creative in a number of areas, but the shadow of stress darkens your ability to see your creative strengths.
Take an honest and open look at your life. Your creativity may be revealed in how you:
- Plan a menu.
- Find a new route to your destination. (I wonder if we’re killing this ability by relying on GPS?)
- Organize your family and household so that it runs well.
- Fix your car, computer or dishwasher.
- Solve a problem.
What are you saying to yourself? Is there one irritating voice that frequently pipes up that says, “I suck at this,” or “It’s not good enough”? Don’t give those voices the microphone. The more you say it, the more the brain agrees and gives you what you’ve just affirmed. Change the self-talk with awareness, knowledge and practice. Learn stress techniques to deactivate the stress response and boost your creativity.
Transform your stress by taking heART. Your heart is your portable and powerful stress transformer.