Stop and Breathe
When was the last time you stopped and did nothing? Not recently? Try it. It could be the most productive waste of time you’ve ever had.
We’ve all had shower thoughts, a random take on society or a sudden idea for that project you've been stuck on. However, it’s no coincidence you think differently when you’re in your birthday suit under hot water. Away from everyday stresses, the mind uniquely wanders.
Too often we get caught in the popularised “just-get-sh*t-done” mentality. Social media and the continually romanticised story of caffeine-fuelled creator suggest the only route to success is constant work. This idea is outdated though, often leading to burnouts, unhealthy behaviour and bad ideas.
A growing amount of research reveals the power of stopping, highlighting how our brains function differently when ‘deeply focused’ (working on a project) compared to ‘wandering freely’ (going for a walk or standing in the shower). To be most creative we need a tactical combination of both mental states.
It's easy to get blinded by experience when we don't give ourselves space. We get stuck in a repetitive creative process and don't think of anything new. You fall into a rut. This is when stepping back has huge benefits.
When we stop and find a place of calm, appreciate the novelty of everyday, we allow ourselves to look at problems with a new perspective. Often finding simple solutions that we overlooked. Essentially, the "ah-ha" moments don't come when you're staring at a screen.
Of course, everyone takes breaks in their own way, and it's about finding what works for you. Below we've highlighted a few ways you can stop and breathe. Give it a go, it could be the calm you didn’t know you needed.
Time: 5 - 30 minutes
Meditation's popularity in the creative industry is growing massively. And with good reason: it helps people regain focus and calm.
There are 101 ways to practice meditation, but an increasingly popular method is using a mindfulness app. Regardless, we suggest taking 10 minutes, sitting in a quiet room, closing your eyes and placing attention on your breath, the sounds around you, how each part of your body feels and the temperature of the room.
Time: 20 minutes +
If you've been indoors, staring at a screen all day, chances are sitting still for half an hour to meditate might sound unappealing. A more active approach to clearing your head can simply be walking.
It may feel like an odd prospect at first but try to pay attention to your body as you walk. Focus on your breath, the sensation of your feet on the ground and the sounds around you. Get that mindful stroll on.
Time: 3 - 10 minutes
Embrace the doodle. Doodling is great if you want a short break from draining creative work. Studies have shown the novelty of drawing encourages mindful thinking and substantially reduces stress.
Don't draw to create anything specific, just put pen to paper and focus on the ink. Try drawing simple shapes or lines rather than anything too tangible. If it turns into something, go with it.
Time: Up to 10 minutes
Music is everywhere, constantly in the background. But how often do we actually listen? If used specifically as a means of relaxation, music has been shown to reduce stress between activities.
Give your self 5 minutes to focus on a piece of music. Try to breakdown each instrument in the song, pay attention to the BPM and meaning behind it.