What gets you in a creative mood

Three strategies for being creative even under time pressure

Better, healthier, more sustainable, more productive and at the same time more relaxed. We live in the era of self-optimization. But what really brings us further - and what can we save ourselves? In her column “Self-optimized”, Laura Lewandwoski writes what happens when she implements (wise) advice or learns from her own experience. In life, at work and wherever it counts. The main thing is to optimize it yourself.

I was wondering if I was the only one having a problem with white pages. Although I am confronted with them every day as a journalist, they challenge me again and again. White sheets of paper scream: “Fill me with ideas, word jokes and brilliance. But make an effort. You haven't written a word yet. "

Creativity at the push of a button, that would be nice! But sometimes the tide is ebb. Nothing in the head. Especially when you need it urgently. Waiting for spontaneous ideas in the shower or while walking is possible, but suboptimal. Especially if, like me, you earn your bread with good ideas. But can you train creativity in the long term? Or at least promote it? I researched, tried out and was successful: Here are my top 3 strategies for life situations that everyone knows

If you think, "I've lost my creativity!"

"You have always been good, but from now on it's different!", "You are probably just not as creative as usual" or "The others are better anyway!" You wonder which voice is speaking right now? In that case: my own. Or rather: the perfectionist in me. Until recently, I wasn't aware that it existed in me at all. That she likes to create a bad mood in my back room, and often has resounding success. Even if one side of me is convinced of my wealth of ideas, the perfectionist talks to them until every spark of self-confidence is chopped up into individual parts.

"Clear signs of unconscious self-sabotage," says hypnosystem coach Maria Wolz. She is familiar with this phenomenon and knows: I'm not alone with it. "Almost everyone carries such destructive patterns around with them, in different facets and intensities." The tricky thing: as a rule, we don't know anything about their existence. We only notice that we are reacting in a way that we do not want to. We could only change that if we became aware of these patterns and changed them.

In my case, I put myself in a situation where I “have to” be creative. “What thoughts come up at that moment? Or maybe inner images? ”Asked Wolz. It's like watching the theater in your own head. Then she asked me to draw the actors on a piece of paper: The perfectionist took on the shape of a devil, the nice side who (nevertheless) believes in me became a diamond.

I had to laugh. Besides that my devil looked like an injured horse, I realized that I had given too much importance to the "negative voice". This figure took up most of the page. The diamond in proportion seemed puny. I painted a smile on the devil's face and rabbit ears. “You took the wind out of the sails of the saboteur,” explains the personality trainer. "We often get stuck with logical, rational techniques." That's why we went into the subconscious - and it works.

Every time I put myself under pressure, the image of the devil with the bunny ears pops up. It's so bizarre that I know: Laura, don't take the nonsense so seriously. Everything just made up.

When you realize: "Help, I'm running out of time!"

Today column, tomorrow concept: Most ideas have to come to me quickly. Especially when many projects follow one another, it triggers stress in me. Poison for creativity, because that blocks my flow and thus the access to good ideas. Now only one thing helps: relax!

No wonder that by far the best ideas come to me in yoga. An Ashtanga teacher from Bali explained this as follows: “Those who practice yoga focus on inhaling and exhaling. Every movement is associated with a breath. " Because there is not always a yoga mat nearby, I came up with an alternative: Nadi Shodhana is one of the most famous breathing exercises in yoga, also known as alternating breathing in German. Inhale through the left nostril (while holding the right nostril), hold the breath (hold both nostrils closed), then exhale through the right nostril (while holding the left). In the same way, you breathe in through your right nostril, hold your breath, and then exhale through your left.

The yogis say: Nadi Shodana helps to direct the breath consciously and to bring the logical brain into harmony with the artistic brain. Scientists say: There are electrical currents in our brain that result from the activity of nerve cells. In deep sleep one has predominantly delta waves, in sleepy, dreaming state theta waves. The most interesting rhythms for creativity are called alpha waves (8 and 12 Hertz). This was the result of a study by Queen Mary University in London. They mostly occur when a person has closed eyes, is mentally relaxed and yet awake and experiencing. Alpha waves show that the brain is in a more open and creative state, with better contact with emotions and the subconscious. And it is precisely these waves that increase during meditation.

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If I am unimaginative and under time pressure, this breathing technique helps to achieve this state. One thing is clear: practice makes perfect here too. The first time you won't open the door to creativity right away. Since I've been doing it regularly every morning after getting up, it helps me better and better in stressful situations and calms me down faster.

When you know: "I need the best idea of ​​my life"

Shower, drive, go for a walk: many roads lead to Rome. When I'm brooding over really complex ideas and concepts, one creativity hack in particular has proven itself: lying down, listening to music, avoiding distractions. It is not easy to say whether it is due to the acoustic waves or other reasons that I often get good ideas. “You can specifically activate brain functions, I don't want to question that,” says sleep doctor Ingo Fietze. Why it happens when we let the mind wander, even science could not yet justify exactly. But the fact is:

In our brain there are some brain regions that become active when doing nothing. These are called the “Default Mode Network” and they get going while we don't seem to think about anything. “In so-called non-focused thinking, the associative areas of the brain are most active. Put simply: do not let stress arise and do not distract yourself by unnecessary activities. You have to endure creative boredom, ”explains German creativity researcher Rainer Holm-Hadulla in an interview with Wirtschaftswoche. During this time, the subconscious goes through experiences, sorts them neatly, connects what has already been experienced with each other - and lets us get creative. It is not for nothing that the word creativity is made up of creare (to create) and crescere (to grow).

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“But creativity or not,” says sleep researcher Fietze. "At some point the brain will automatically take a break." Everyone gets tired every 90 to 100 minutes without even realizing it, just like every four hours. If you wake up at 6 a.m., you can expect the first noticeable low between 9 and 10 a.m., then between 12 and 2 p.m. and again between 4 and 6 p.m. Especially if you sleep poorly the night before. So if all else fails: first have a drink and, if in doubt, take a creative break.