Creativity Slump? It's Hiding Outdoors.
Do you ever have days where you know that things should be getting done, but six hours later and you're still feeling stuck? Maybe that continues for a few days? If that has never happened to you, please slide into my DMs and let me know what drugs you take. Until that magically happens, here's what I do to battle my creativity slumps.
I look at my overall state of mind and head outside
Nothing seems to work properly when I'm having "one of those days." Motivation, creativity, focus and just about every other function isn't operating at 100%. That's why I like to look at my overall mental health when I start to feel my creativity lacking. If something is off and I don't feel like myself, I head to the outdoors.
My ideal experience would be walking through a forest in the mountains, but that's not always feasible. No worries though, even a short visit to the outdoors can positively impact my mood. It's like a car battery dying. Sometimes my mind just needs a little jumpstart to work properly. The outdoors is my jumpstart.
To add to my personal experience, a study concluded that as little as 10 minutes of sitting or walking in a diverse array of natural settings significantly improved mental well-being.
I personally feel like 10 minutes is a little short so I aim for 30. Since I don't always have the time to drive to my favorite spots, I'll head to the closest local park and sit on the grass or hang my hammock if I'm feeling super ambitious. While at the park, I'll eat lunch, write in my journal or read a book. There's no right way of doing it. Simply being outside in green space will work.
I spend a long weekend in the outdoors
A study done by psychologists from the University of Utah and the University of Kansas found that four days in nature helped participants improve their Remote Associates Test results by 50 percent. The RAT is one way that scientists are able to measure creative potential.
That study speaks to me and I would bet that most people will feel the same way after a long weekend in the outdoors. It's absolutely one of the most effective ways to reset my mind and I'd highly recommend giving it a shot.
That's why I'll take my Airstream (pictured above) or even just a tent to a remote location for three days. I know the study references four days, but I find three is enough for me.
Another option would be to rent a cabin in the middle of nowhere, but that's something I only do a handful of times per year.
I use scents and audio as a forest alternative
Scents play a big role in our daily lives whether you know it or not. A couple years ago, I decided to intentionally use them because I realized how powerful they are. I won't go into much detail in this post, but if you want to learn more about the power of scent triggers, read "Scent Triggers Will Change How You Think About Fragrances."
What I will mention in this post is that I came up with a routine that makes my brain feel like I'm in the outdoors.
I shut the blinds, put on my noise canceling headphones and play an ambient forest track on YouTube. I apply my outdoors scent trigger to the top of my hands and lay on my couch or bed. With my eyes closed I focus on what I hear and smell.
Visuals of being outdoors start to flood my mind instead of the anxious reminders of not being able to focus or come up with a creative solution. I can visualize the time I went hiking to one of my favorite spots in Grand Tetons with my friend Damien. I remember hikes in Idaho that I did alone while living in my Airstream. Those memories are moments in my life that I felt relaxed and clear headed.
After 20 minutes of my routine I feel a mental boost. I'm more relaxed and approach my todo list with a more positive attitude. Occasionally, I fall asleep during my routine, but I'll count that as a bonus?
For me, nothing beats spending a long weekend in the outdoors, but scents give me a big enough mental boost to hold me off until the next trip. With a little bit of training, they can do the same for you.
If you're new to scent triggers, read my post "What Are Scent Triggers?" and "Scent Triggers Will Change How You Think About Fragrances."