Creatively Constipated? 3 Ways That Play Can Clear That Right Up

Creatively Constipated? 3 Ways that PLAY can clear that Right Up

By Alissia Thompson, LCPC

Have you ever had the experience of being under deadline? There you are, sweating the minutes of the clock ticking by, desperately searching for a great (or even mediocre) idea to put forth before you turn into a pumpkin. The pressure is on-you have to produce, yet your imagination has gone into lockdown. Nothing is happening. Your creative flow is effectively backlogged. You feel frustrated, fatigued, and fed up. Yes, you’re creatively constipated. The ideas are stuck. You push harder, but that only seems to make things worse. Now the panic sets in. The clock keeps ticking. How will I get it done?

Creativity is a vital life force-one that I contend brings us closer to the Divine-but is also equal parts stubborn. Sometimes it just doesn’t want to cooperate, much like nature on occasion (see Chicago winter this year).winter So does that mean we go into hibernation until it passes? Recently someone reminded me that inspiration is for amateurs. He suggested that we design our own conditions to create. So let me ask you: when it plunged into the double-digit negatives in January, did you: a) focus your energies on trying to change the temperature, or b) simply put on more layers, to keep yourself warm and safe?

We can’t change the weather, and we can’t force creativity. What we can do, however, is lay the foundation for those conditions that lend to creativity. Just like we can put on an extra top to stay warm, we can take measures to effect creativity where we have influence-and that is in our actions. We can choose to act in ways that are conducive to our creativity. This is where play comes in. Play is an equally Divine life force to creativity that can be considered its right-hand (wo)man. Put into action, play can supercharge creativity, and alleviate that painful, anxiety-provoking constipation. Play and creativity are a 1-2 punch! Here’s how:

1)      Play does a body good. When we play, we send a beautiful chemical called endorphins cascading through our bodies, which makes us feel really good. It relaxes us and makes us feel happy and euphoric. When we play, we set our bodies up for creative receptivity, unlike stress and its chemical counterpart, cortisol. Play really is healthy, and puts us in the mood for creating.

2)      Play clears our minds. Research in rats shows that play enhances memory, improves problem-solving abilities, and actually builds a bigger brain! While not much research to date has been compiled on humans, study after study suggests that us humans are influenced much the same. A playful brain is a sharper brain. A sharper, more relaxed brain is apt to be more creative than that of a dull, overwhelmed brain. We actually need play to stay focused!

3)      Play reduces stress. I know I touched on it above, but stress really is a killer and deserves mention of its own. When we’re stressed, not only are our bodies flooded with erosive neurotransmitters (like cortisol), but we literally contract. Our minds go into tunnel vision, our bodies grow tense, and our spirits disconnect from the Infinite. How conducive is this state to creation? I used to throw a ball around with some of my staff when we were brainstorming/problem-solving, and it took the edge off the process. Ideas flow when stress is low.

Whether faced with a deadline or simply aiming to complete a creative project, try using a little play when you start to feel all stopped up. See how moving around a bit, lightening up, and having a little fun influences the process. Play can be so transformative; unfortunately not enough of us leverage this as part of our healing repertoire. Not you, though. I know you see it; and I know you’ll play long.

 

alissiajayneAbout the Author: Alissia Thompson is a psychotherapist and teacher whose work is to transform individuals and organizations through play. She offers workshops and individual sessions on the importance of play as part of personal development. You can learn more about Alissia at www.alissiajayne.com.

 

 

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