Last updated on October 26th, 2022
A couple weeks back, we examined the idea (i.e.; the absolute myth) of overnight success. Despite all superficial appearances, the sudden media darlings that we encounter in the world of entertainment have put in years – perhaps even decades – of work to have that one moment that, in the public’s purview, puts them on the map.
In case you haven’t read that piece (and would like a partial spoiler), we established that success is not a destination, but a journey; a continuous process marked by incremental steps that serve to bring us to a better version of our creative visions, every single time. We covered the ways to improve your mindset and your circle, so that you can find the inspiration to keep going – even when the going gets tough.
Those tactics are only a piece of the puzzle. The fact is that our creative journey is powered by the human being behind it, and that human being has undeniable physical, emotional, and spiritual needs that must not be ignored. Making sure these needs are met makes it more likely that we will be able to function at an optimal human level, making it just a tad easier to show up for our lofty goals and aspirations.
If we don’t show up for those needs? We’re only making our own journeys more difficult.
With that, let’s dive into some wellness practices that will help you maximize your human performance, while making your creative output a little more robust!
Over the past half-decade – and particularly, since COVID locked us all inside of our houses – society has focused more on the practice of going inward. That includes meditation, which has gained significant mainstream appeal for its ability to help people regulate their stress levels and emotions.
As a bonus, this practice has been known for years to be incredibly helpful to creatives – especially those on the hunt for new ideas. According to a 2017 article from the Harvard Business Review, 10 to 12 minutes of meditation per day are enough to boost creativity, and have been proven in studies to lead participants to discover a wider range of ideas.
As it turns out, the answers you’re seeking *out there* may reside within.
Speaking of going inward, taking what’s on the inside and letting it out, pen to paper, can also be helpful for musicians and creatives. In 2019, Forbes columnist Bryan Collins wrote that “journaling encourages capturing ideas and self-reflection, both key skills for creatives. It’s also a useful skill for entrepreneurs and busy executives, as it fosters clear thinking.”
Journaling is a stellar practice for anyone looking for develop new ideas, process complex emotions, or capture their goals. For songwriters, there is also a clear correlation between what comes out in your journal entries, and what makes its way into your tunes. As you record your reflections on the page, pay attention to the emotions captured, as well as the phrasing you use. This practice may hold the keys to your next lyrical masterpiece.
This correlation may not be as obvious as some others, but it’s just as important. According to the New York Times, a University of Graz (Austria) study concluded that movement and exercise positively correlated with improved creativity and a greater sense of imagination. The study also found that those who exercise daily have a greater tendency to predominantly experience positive emotions – although it should be noted that one’s level of happiness was not found to have an impact on that person’s association between daily exercise and creativity.
In short? Get up and move! In all likelihood, it will lead you to new ideas – and you’ll feel good about it, too!
Time away from the hustle
We covered this one in great detail a few weeks ago, but it bears repeating: rest is a good thing for creatives, and it comes in a variety of forms. Rest gives you an opportunity to break from the norm – whether it is active or passive.
You know that saying, “Build a life you don’t need to take a vacation from?” I am here to argue that this 100%, absolute bogus advice, born from the flawed ideals of hustle culture. No matter how much you love your work, we all need a break from time to time. This allows us time to decompress, recalibrate, and come back stronger and more focused than we were before.
That is more than just conjecture on my part. Entrepreneur has an article which outlines the benefits of taking a vacation. Whether you’re self-employed or not, time spent exploring beyond the confines of your daily life is proven to boost mental health, productivity, and creativity.
Go ahead – stretch your legs and live a little. The work will be right there waiting for you when you get back
Hustle culture glorifies those who put in late nights – often followed by early mornings – for years on end. Think about it: how many stories have you heard about entrepreneurs who work constantly, sleep 4 hours a night, and never have time to achieve balance in their lives because they’re Always. On. The. Grind.
Truthfully, there is little true glory in not giving your body what it needs – and what it needs is to catch some zzz’s, consistently. The Mayo Clinic suggests that the sleep benchmark for adults is between 7-8 hours a night – and, according to the experts over there, several other items in this piece you’re reading right now will help you achieve that benchmark.
Getting enough shut-eye will help your creativity remain at its peak, while also producing benefits for memory, ability to focus, and overall health. Give your body – and your creative vision – what it needs. Turn the lights out, power down the devices, and get to bed!
Junk food may taste good, and it may provide comfort in times of stress. However, one thing it won’t do is make you more creative.
If you’re looking for ways to incorporate healthier choices into your diet, Creative Enso compiled a great list of 10 foods that will help improve brain function and sleep quality, while reducing your risk of mental or physical illness. Generally, foods that are rich in Omega fatty acids, healthy fats, antioxidants, and B vitamins go a long way toward enabling and improving creativity.
Eliminating bad habits
This final point is a bit more abstract, because there are a lot of things that could qualify as “bad habits.” These include a poor diet, a poor sleep schedule, overworking, over-partying, procrastination, binge-watching shows or movies, doom scrolling on social media, or a general lack of routine maintenance of one’s physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Each of those things, while not inextricably tied to the others on the list, shares the common thread of being something that can distract you and, if it goes on long enough, take you further away from your creative goals. Your time is precious, and you must honor it by using it wisely.
Watching six consecutive hours of your favorite TV show may be a cozy idea, but it won’t help you truly rest, or put in the work you need to feel fulfilled in other areas of your life. And sure, a wild night out may seem like the good idea at the time (been there!), but those Saturday nights become Sunday afternoons quickly, skull-rattling hangovers and all.
Use your time wisely and take care of yourself. And, if there’s any doubt in your mind as to whether you should be doing something at any given moment, follow your intuition.