Slow down for the soul.
Like everyone else, lockdown changed my life overnight. Here’s how I’ve been embracing the slow-down and keeping creativity top of mind.
I had a frantic schedule, jam-packed with school runs, commutes, team sports, and dinners out. Cosying up alongside the chaos was plenty of creative inspiration. Lockdown left something unrecognizable in its place – a slower, sedate way of life that I was unused to. Adapting to the new normal and keeping my sanity became a big priority.
Get in gear
Our brains are made up of billions of nerve cells called neurones. One thing I’ve discovered is that your brain has various gears suited for different activities – these are our brain frequencies. Our neurones use electric pulses to communicate with each other, and depending on what we’re doing, they create different frequencies.
Delta is the slowest and occurs in deep sleep, making it incredibly important for growth and regeneration, alpha is when you’re conscious and calm – like when you’re reading a good book on the sofa – while beta means you’re bright and attentive, ideal for focused attention or working.
Armed with this knowledge, I’ve found my groove, and I wanted to share some of the ways I’ve switched things up and found a creative sweet spot.
Trick of the mind
If you’re stressed or worried, try and relax your mind by engaging your peripheral vision and redirecting your mind away from the trigger. Or engage both sides of your brain by going for a walk. Deliberately shifting your mindset helps to change your brain frequency and ultimately calms you down.
I have some of my best idea this way. When I take a long, hot shower, I’m strangely productive. I think it’s because my neurones are firing on a calmer frequency and I’m finally able to think clearly. It’s the same when I’m brushing my teeth, which is when I came up with the name for Sop.
In today’s world it’s almost impossible to be bored. With technology at our fingertips we have access to news and entertainment 24/7. But I’ve been switching mine off for sustained periods of time, giving myself time with no noise, no distractions, no nothing. Boredom is critical for the mind: it can give you time to think clearly and escape, and also creates a blank mental canvas for coming up with your next great idea.
Fun and games
Having fun and being playful contrasts perfectly with that must-have boredom. It’s a vital tool for inspiration, helping you to develop novel connections between ideas you might not have seen or otherwise considered. Having a good time, laughing and letting loose are also an antidote to stress and enable productivity.
Slowing down and looking up
How I talk, the way I walk – it’s all fast. But I’ve begun learning the power of slow thinking. And I’ve joined the dots and realised that the mundane moments are actually when I’ve had some of my best ideas. As humans we have two modes of thought: fast thinking is rational, analytical, logical; slow thinking is creative and intuitive. Unsurprisingly, researchers have shown that people who slow think more often are less stressed and more creative.
Encourage yourself to do more slow thinking with meditation. Whether you do online classes or already have your own practice, making a meditation ritual builds dedicated slow-thinking time into your day. If you’ve never meditated before, try using an app – I’ve been religiously doing exercises and classes on Headspace. I find listening to familiar voices on a guided meditation is like checking in with friends.
As we adjust to this new normal, I plan on finding the right frequencies to keep creating, relaxing, and working hard, whatever is happening inside and outside my bubble, and I hope you can too.
Insight for this post came from Carl Honoré, Carol Kersha, Bill Wade and Greg McKeown.