Every month for the past year and a half, I have sat down to write to you, my dear reader. This past August, I found myself absolutely stuck, with no inspiration, unique insights or clever bits of wisdom to offer. I told myself I’d just skip a month, so that’s what I did. But then September came, and I was still coming up dry; and now I was more stressed about it than ever. The guilt of reneging on my self-imposed obligation nagged at me terribly. But the more I grasped at ideas, the more they eluded me. I decided the best thing I could do was surrender. I asked any good ideas that might be buzzing through the area to please consider landing in my head. Then I let go.
Hours later while folding laundry, inspiration took pity on me and tapped me ever so gently on the shoulder: I could write about the sheer fact that I have nothing to write about! It was an interesting concept – surely I can’t be the only person who’s found themselves in a productivity slump – but I couldn’t come up with any meat to flesh it out. Since the idea found me as soon as I decided to stop chasing it, I stuck to that approach. Maybe I could weasel a few more details out of my hard-to-get idea by relaxing into unknowing even further. I prepared myself an Epsom salt bath with lavender oil, my favorite rose quartz, and a cup of mint tea. Before my fingers had a chance to prune, I knew every point I wanted to hit in this blog.
So why did I experience more creative output the less I focused my efforts? The answer lies within the brain. When you experience stress, your body prepares for fight, flight or freeze. All of your brain’s energy is focused on keeping you alert, and out of harm’s way. Remember, your brain doesn’t know why you’re experiencing stress – maybe you missed a deadline, maybe you’re being chased by a lion. So any departments not critical to keeping you alive (like your creative center) promptly lock their doors and hang up their ‘closed’ signs. In short, your angst about being stuck is what’s keeping you stuck.
To make things worse, we live in a society that endorses the concept that you don’t deserve leisure time unless you’ve earned it. In the case of a creative block though, I propose going against the societal norm, and relaxing your way toward creative productivity. Invent a relaxation ritual for yourself that you can do whenever you’re feeling stuck. For me, being in water, combined the aroma of lavender relaxes me deeply, eases tension, and soothes my aches and pains. I even created lavender body mist to help me wind down at the end of the day.
It’s important to note that I didn’t take the bath in order to get the ideas I was seeking. I took the bath with the intent to relax, and surrender to the fact that I was presently out of ideas. In doing so, the ideas came.
What de-stresses you every time, without fail? If you have a relaxation ritual up your sleeve whenever you find yourself stuck, you’ll actually begin to associate an enjoyable experience that goes along with your creative block. Imagine saying, “I can’t think of any new blog ideas. I guess I’ll have to lock my door, turn off my phone and spend an hour in the tub sipping tea”. Boohoo! You’ll begin to perceive getting stuck as an opportunity to pamper yourself instead of a reason to punish yourself. You’ll be amazed to see that your creative block lifts, as a happy byproduct of this compassionate, self-care ritual.