Feeling blocked sucks
When was the last time you stared at a blank screen, fingers on the keyboard - willing them to type but they just wouldn't move? For me, it was right before these sentences came pouring out. Yep, it happens to all of us. When you are feeling stuck, stagnant or blocked, trying to do anything creative pretty much sucks. Especially when all you want it is for that moment when everything clicks - when the light bulb turns on - your big A-ha!
Though creativity is primarily a right brained function, it turns out there is a whole lot of left-brainers figuring out the science behind creativity. Ready to nerd out a little?
Conscious vs unconscious thought
Through a set of recent studies
, scientists have determined that not only can people generate ideas during conscious thought, but also subconsciously. During one of the studies, scientists asked two groups of participants to think of as many uses for a paperclip as they could. In group A, participants thought about it with no distractions. In group B, participants had to complete another task (count backwards by threes) while coming up with uses.
After their thinking time was over, each participant had time to write down as many uses as possible. Both groups were able to write down uses. If the participants were given either 1 minute or 5 minutes to think, group A had more novel ideas. If the participants were given 3 minutes to think, group B was the one with more novel ideas. They found that people using unconscious thought to generate ideas for a moderate amount of time had the best ideas. Yep, your brain is a multitasker.
Science has done it again! If unconscious thought leads to more creativity, then we need to more of it. But how?
10 Ways to Stimulate Unconscious Thought
1. Take a shower
Don't you always get the best ideas in the shower? I do. According to Harvard psychologist Shelly Carson
, the simple change of scenery and distraction of a shower can stimulate unconscious thought.
2. Go for a drive
Using the same principle as showering, road trips are great for unconscious thought. The constant movement of scenery and repetitive motions in driving are the perfect stimulant.
3. Go get coffee
There is more to why people work in coffee shops than the espresso. Coffee shops have the perfect white noise ambiance. The light music, the sound of milk frothing, the banter of the baristas - background noise perfect for thinking. The caffeine doesn't hurt either.
4. Read fiction
Reading fiction stimulates your imagination. And because of our multitasking brain, you can solve problems and live in book worlds all at the same time. Don't be afraid to let your thoughts wander from the story a little. That is where the magic happens!
5. Listen to music
Music that blends in to the background - like a soundtrack - is best for stimulation. For me, I like to listen to songs where I know all the words enough to sing along without thinking. Some people like instrumental - like the score to a film. Experiment a little and find what works for you.
6. Take a walk
Just like driving, walking can be a good change of scenery. Pop in your earbuds and listen to your favorite fiction audio book for double stimulation.
7. Go to the gym
One way to access the imagination is to create mental images or stories. Studies have found
that visualization not only promotes creativity, but also relaxation, pain relief & better sleep.
It never fails. Whenever I try to think about nothing, I end up thinking about something. Consciously trying to clear your thoughts & concentrate on the moment is just enough of a distraction to let your unconscious have at it.
10. Write lists
By concentrating on a specific topic to generate ideas, you leave your unconscious open to think tangentially & spark some of the most amazing a-ha moments in the process. In fact, this principle on which I based the 10 Days To Epiphany challenge! It is 10 days of seriously inspiring unconscious thought stimulation.
Are you ready for your challenge?
The 10 Days to Epiphany Challenge is an online course designed to get you thinking about the right things to improve your business. Each day, you'll get a new prompt to generate 10 ideas about a specific topic. As your brain focuses on the topic at hand, your unconscious mind is going full speed, pumped for your big breakthrough. Are you ready?
Yes, I'm ready!