Many people believe that creativity will come to you, and that inspiration is something you must wait patiently for — and that’s simply not true. If you have a creative job, you’ll know that waiting around for your muse is impractical and unproductive. Thankfully, making a few small changes to your daily life can mean the difference between feeling despondent and feeling inspired. Here are five tips to improve your creativity and concentration using exercise and diet:
Drink more water
Sitting at a desk all day can be thirsty work, but most of us reach for the coffee, which dehydrates us even further. A glass of cold water can wake up your brain just as efficiently — without the crash that comes with caffeine consumption. Rather than setting yourself a target amount of water to drink, just make sure you’ve always got a glass on your desk, and refill it whenever it gets empty.
Take short walks
It doesn’t matter how cold it is outside — you’ll definitely feel the benefits of a brisk walk when you return to your desk. Some people find that it helps to think about creative problems whilst walking, whereas others find it best to let their mind wander. Taking a shower has the same effect, but is somewhat less practical!
Have a smaller lunch
Struggling to keep your eyes open after your lunch break? You might be eating too much. It’s almost impossible to concentrate when you’re drowsy, so prevent this by avoiding carb-heavy food like bread and pasta. Instead, opt for something lighter like a tuna salad. Fish is excellent brain-food, and can help you feel more energised and inspired for longer.
Yoga exercises your mind as much as your body, and can dramatically increase focus and concentration. Mindfulness, better posture and deeper breathing can prevent work-based frustration from building up and blocking your creativity. Even if you work better under pressure, stress can still be bad for mental well-being and creative thinking.
Swimming is an excellent form of exercise, and isn’t too strenuous — and this is exactly what you want when trying to solve a creative problem. If you swim too fast, you’ll be too focused on the activity to think of anything else, but a calm and leisurely swim can really free your thoughts and help you make difficult decisions.
Nuts and seeds are the perfect work-day snack: they improve cognitive function, boost your brain power and can even help stabilise your mood. Walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews and pumpkin seeds are best for this, and are delicious mixed with energy-boosting dried fruit.
Of course, food can only do so much to alter your mood. If you’re constantly finding yourself down and unmotivated when at work, it might just be that you’re doing the wrong job. Many people find that their creativity returns upon finding a more rewarding profession. There’s no such thing as the perfect job, so don’t feel that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t enjoy work as much as your colleagues. What suits one person won’t necessarily suit the next, so don’t be afraid to find a career that works for you!
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Sam Wright is a freelance writer working for Brand Republic. He’s been freelancing for six years, and faces a constant battle to keep focused.