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Ask Lawrence: How To Be Mindfully Creative

24 Oct 15:00 by Lawrence Akers

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Recently, Tank in Melbourne produced the 2018 Mental Health & Creative Industry Report (download here) that looked at the impact of mental health issues within the creative industry.

I personally have to applaud Tank for doing this; this is an issue that has an impact on every Australian worker although I suspect many may not consider the additional ramifications it might help on those who have creativity as a core requirement of their work.

There are so many issues that could exist within our work place that has the potential to rob us of our mental wellness. If you’ve ever faced a challenging deadline on a big project or, to the other extreme, been micromanaged by a toxic boss, you know first hand how the stress and anxiety you experience can stop you from being able to do your job effectively and productively.

Even worse, the potential to impact on your self-confidence and self-esteem is enormous. In some toxic environments, some people have been so beaten down over the years from an unequipped manager who uses aggressiveness and negativity as their key way of ‘motivation’ that they find it hard to believe they’re good enough to land a job anywhere else and, as a result, just stay in a job that they hate, that continues to increase the misery and that leaves them feeling completely trapped.

It is important to ensure that you have a way to help relieve that stress and anxiety, to help promote creativity and to allow you to find the resilience you need in order to ensure you’re able to push back when needed.

At Creative Recruiters, we are all big advocates of mindfulness.

While some may think of mindfulness as being the current fad and completely ‘woo woo’, there is a lot of evidence out there to not only support the benefits of mindfulness, but also the impact it has on creativity.

Last year, Harvard Business Review published an article about how 10 minutes of mindfulness can help you become more creative.

They write, “In his book Mindfulness for Creativity, Danny Penman argues that mindfulness meditation and other mindfulness practices enhance three essential skills necessary for creative problem solving. First, mindfulness switches on divergent thinking. In other words, meditation opens your mind to new ideas. Second, mindfulness practice improves attention and makes it easier to register the novelty and usefulness of ideas. And finally, mindfulness nurtures courage and resilience in the face of skepticism and setbacks, which is important because failure and setbacks are inextricably linked with any innovation process.”

Headspace also have published articles on how integrating mindfulness techniques will help you become a strong designer and a more engaged team member. Other research has looked at how mindfulness can be applied to the four stages of the creative brain, so mindfulness is equally applicable and useful in environments that already are supportive and open to creative collaboration.

The simple fact is this; we cannot control how others are going to treat us in the workplace nor what situations we’re going to find ourselves working in however we can choose how we wish to engage with those people or those situations. Mindfulness is one step towards finding a sense of calm, defusing from anxious and stressful thoughts, getting in touch with values and driving our action and goals towards the kind of creatives we wish to be.