3 Surprising ways to improve your creativity and brainpower

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Recently, Alex talked about how important it is not to overwhelm yourself as an entrepreneur.

(Did you miss it? Read “This one mistake can derail your business. Are you guilty of it?“)

And he’s right!

We often put ourselves in this “just one more” mentality until we’ve worked all of our waking hours (as well as some that we should be sleeping) and still feel like we’re barely scraping by.

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I’ve been there, and I’ve looked into the future and said,

This isn’t where I want to be in 5 years. (Heck, 5 months.) I don’t want to work this hard to feel this behind / exhausted / unaccomplished / hurried / weary / and all the other million stressful emotions that run through an entrepreneur’s soul.

At this moment, I wasn’t producing my best work. I felt like I was working instead of creating. I just wanted…needed…to get the product finished and out the door so I could get paid and start on the next thing.

The physical toll of “the hustle” took a mental toll on my creativity and brainpower.

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That’s no place for a creative to be.

So I realized I had to make a change. And despite this burnout, I couldn’t imagine myself “going to work” at a 9-5 everyday again, so I had to look within.

  • I had to regain my cheerful outlook.
  • I needed to spark my creativity.
  • I wanted to find meaning as well as personal satisfaction and growth in my work again (not just financial gain).

And while I honed in on the one or two things most vital to growing my career in the ways I wanted, I found simply doing that wasn’t enough.

That’s because the mental shift is only part of the transformation. To truly empower your mind to be at your peak performance, you have to take care of your physical self, too.

Now, I didn’t believe it much either when I first heard this. But the body wants to be well, and when it’s not well, it weighs on your mind in unusual ways.

Depression. Anxiety. Creative block. Irritability. (and much more)

So I was just as surprised as you’ll be when I saw amazing progress in my mental health, creativity, and overall happiness from these 3 tips:

1) Find a great chiropractor

We sit in a chair in front of our computers most of the day. The farmer tossing hay all day long? He’s doing less damage to his body than we are.

Yes, really.

(Even if you have great posture and take a few breaks.)

A good chiropractor is worth his/her weight in gold:

  • Body pain / muscle spasms? Likely related to bones being out of place. He’ll put ’em back.
  • “Fog” / depression? Might be a jumble of stress knots in your neck making it difficult for your brain to communicate with the rest of your body. (Your brain doesn’t like that, and it responds negatively.)
  • Trouble sleeping? Could be your muscles are wound up so tight that you physically can’t relax at night.

I’m not saying you need to put his kids through college, but check in 2-3 times per year with your chiropractor. (Each check-in might be a couple of visits.)

You’ll be shocked what “goes away” or improves from a few adjustments.

2) Exercise

Cue eye roll, I know. Nobody likes exercise.

So to get the blood pumping through my veins without hating every second of it, I find ways to “trick” myself into it or make it less unenjoyable.

Here’s what I’ve found works:

Do something quick and simple before your mind wakes up every morning.

When you’re still waking up, your mind won’t focus on not wanting to do it, and keeping it short and simple will make you less likely to not do it.

I do resistance bands for about 5 minutes. “Easy” exercises that don’t require coordination or much thought.

Make exercise a byproduct.

I don’t enjoy exercise for exercise’s sake, but I love sports.

So I huff and puff, notice it less, and have the motivation to do it by joining co-ed rec leagues.

Mix exercise and pleasure.

(Dirty minds.)

What I mean is, the clock seems to run backward if I stationary bike and stare at the walls, so I read for pleasure while biking.

My minimum ride must be 5 miles (about 20-25 minutes), but often I find I’m riding in the 6-7 mile range because just…one…more…chapter.

Start slow.

Don’t overwhelm yourself with a huge weekly program you know you won’t stick with. Don’t start with an hour of exercise right off the bat.

When I started doing pushups, I did 10 “girl” pushups because I knew I couldn’t do regular ones. 4 months later, I’m now doing 30 “real” pushups  (2 sets of 15, up from 3 sets of 10).

Next I’ll do 1 set of 20 and 1 set of 15 for awhile, and then maybe 1 set of 20 and 2 sets of 10.

3) Meditate / relax

“Meditate” sounds like you have to be taught how to do something, so use the word relax if that feels less intimidating to you.

I actually just learned this exercise not 3 weeks ago, and it’s now a mainstay in my life:

Sit on the beach watching the waves.

Breathe in when the waves go out, and breathe out when the waves come in. Focus on breathing in time with the waves.

Hear them.

The beauty of this technique is that you can sit with the ocean for one wave or one hundred. Try it:

  • Right before a stressful phone call / meeting (just one or two waves)
  • At the start of a creative work session (10 waves)
  • Before you go to bed (10-15 minutes)
  • Sitting in traffic when you’re running behind

What’s your secret?

How do you take care of your body to take care of your overall well-being? Share your tips in the comments!

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About April Greer

April is the Director of Projects at Reliable PSD, a design-to-code company for designers, by designers. She’s the glue keeping everything together, organized, and right on time, and giving everyone a fantastic experience while she does it.

 

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Comments

  1. Yoga is my secret.
    I wouldn’t mind spending hours meditating but I was always bored to go to the gym.
    So, I finally found the kind of exercise that suits me.
    Yoga is 2 in 1, helps equally body and soul-mind.
    It keeps me physically and mentally healthy, it relaxes me and boosts my creativity.

  2. SwAti Bhatnagar says:

    This is great! Needed this. Thank you.

  3. I actually try and practice all of the above and they do work at keep me feeling more positive. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Jacqueline Thompson says:

    I am a walker. My goal is 10,000 steps a day. I don’t always make it but I can break it up during the day, stretch my legs. If I get too bored I take my sketch book out with me and draw a page or two. Usually, that is enough to relax me.

    I also had to let go of some of the projects that were stressing me to no end.

    Hope it helps.

  5. Great story and very helpful tips! I often leave the office and walk around the building. It costs me about 10 min. The worth i get back is much more than 10 minutes!

  6. Christyl Benford says:

    Wow! You definitely described me in the first 5 paragraphs. I love DailyBurn.com. I can do whatever type of exercise I want that day without going overboard. Great article, thanks!

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