At times the most healthy thing we can do to help our creativity is to just walk away from a project for a little while.
The most creative discoveries usually don’t happen when trying to tackle a project directly through logic or reason or planning. We can’t force creativity to happen.
Instead, creativity often comes serendipitously. The best we can do is give ourselves the right environment and the right space to experience those insights and “aha!” moments.
Sometimes the more time we spend thinking about creativity and planning for it, the more difficult it is to have a genuine creative discovery.
That’s why taking breaks can be so important to our work.
Psychologists have done a lot of research into how creativity works in our minds. Here are the main reasons why taking breaks can be so beneficial.
It replenishes your mental resources.
Being creative takes energy and hard work. We can’t expect to do it for hours upon hours and not get fatigued.
At the very least this is one good reason why we need to take a break from creativity every now and then. It gives our mind a chance to replenish its resources.
Breaks keep our mind sharp and help to restore stamina. If you keep trying to work while tired, you’re mind isn’t going to be working at it’s full capacity. This is going to lead to less-than-your-best quality work.
Therefore, when you notice yourself getting tired, then go for a walk, take a nap, play a video game, or take part in some other stress relievers to give your mind a rest.
It gives your unconscious a chance to do some work.
Giving our minds a break allows our ideas to go through an incubation period. This is when we don’t try to be creative consciously, but instead allow our unconscious to do some work.
When we take our mind off of our work, that doesn’t necessarily mean these ideas aren’t being processed behind the scenes.
Dreams are one manifestation of unconscious ideas. Keeping a dream diary is a great way to keep track of what your mind is doing while it’s running wild.
Another great thing to do is to do “boring” but restful activities that elicit daydreaming, which has also shown to improve creativity and problem-solving.
It frees up time to expose yourself to new things.
Spending less time focused on your creative work also gives you more time to expose yourself to new things.
This is good for creativity because it gives you a chance to be inspired by other things in your environment that you otherwise wouldn’t have the time for.
It gives you an opportunity to go to new places, try new things, and have new experiences. You can then integrate these experiences into your creative projects.
Actively seeking new things gives us a way to escape the curse of familiarity.
Creative people are able to take inspiration from anything, even when they aren’t focused on their work directly.
A photographer can get inspiration while listening to music. A musician can get inspiration while watching a movie. And a filmmaker can get inspiration while reading a book. A writer can get inspiration while walking.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of ways we can get inspired when we spend our time doing things we don’t normally do.
Learn more about how to live a happy and successful life in The Science of Self Improvement.