We’ve all been there – in fact, many of us are there right now. Tough times hit, we try to convince ourselves we’re fine, but then mysteriously we find ourselves getting… tired. Days merge into each other, small tasks seem to take forever, and soon enough mustering the energy to think creatively sounds like a chore of monumental proportions. Whether you’re the creative brain for your brand, or you’re tasked with hiring production studios like us to develop creative explainer content, keeping up creative energy is a must if you want to attract an audience. But sometimes this is easier said than done, so let’s take a look at a few top tips for keeping this energy going in difficult times:

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Task management:

1) “Do the thing” (Recognise the value of routine)

Creative energy, like inspiration, can often be a thing that doesn’t show up unless you start building the habit of actually working at your project. Set aside small chunks of time to regularly sit down and ‘do the thing’, whatever your thing is. Sometimes this means forcing ideas at first, and that’s good. Get those bad ideas out of the way quick. The more you do the thing, the quicker you’ll sink into the routine of just doing it, and the more gold ideas you’ll eventually strike.

2) Set goals

It’s way easier to generate energy when you’ve got something to look forward to. Set an achievable end goal for your creative and business endeavours, whether it’s reaching a particular audience, hitting a view count, or creating a really compelling pitch script. Refer back to this goal as you develop your plan for progress.

3) Schedule time to reflect

Past successes and failures, areas to grow, wants and needs, things to appreciate. Alongside actually doing the thing that needs doing, it’s important to schedule time to reflect and analyse so you can improve your creative work in the oncoming projects, or adjust your scope to better target your goals.

Taking care of yourself:

4) Prioritise a good sleeping schedule

Yes yes, everybody point at the hypocrite with a terrible sleep schedule talking about the virtues of healthy sleep schedules. Don’t judge me. Actually, you know what? Do judge me, because having inconsistent bedtimes, wake up times, and sleep lengths is awful for your energy levels and mood stability.

Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule around work, hobbies, relationships, and general waking life isn’t an easy task for many of us. Personally, I haven’t quite cracked the secret to consistent sleep success beyond a couple of weeks at a time, but in those weeks? Damn. Waking up feels amazing, the air feels fresher somehow and yes, creative energy comes much, much more easily. This is why it’s important to consciously and purposely work towards prioritising your sleep life like it’s an important, immovable business meeting (Pro tip #1: Wear a suit and tie to bed if it helps show your body that sleeping is serious biz. Pro tip #2: This is a joke. Don’t do this).

5) Remember to breathe

Turns out oxygen is super important for thinking and living and stuff. Who knew? But what’s more nuts is how easy it is to ‘forget’ to breathe properly when we’re in the midst of tough times. Stress, anxiety, and fatigue can all cause our breathing to become shallow, and since breathing is an unconscious activity for most of us 99.9% of the time, it often goes unnoticed for long periods. Shallow breathing can lead to many stress-related issues – some mild and some more serious – most of which sap our energy, motivation, and sense of well-being. If you’re feeling a little sluggish and you’re not sure why, try some simple breathing exercises to get a solid rhythm going. A few deep belly breaths can be enough to start – sit up comfortably straight and inhale for four seconds, hold briefly, then exhale for six. Repeat.

6) Eat foods that will actually energise you

The worst of times often make us feel like reaching for the worst of foods. At times of lowest energy it’s especially tempting to crack open a sugary soft drink or go primal on a pack of Skittles. But we know well by now that simple sugars are a recipe for a brief, unsatisfying high followed by a pit of regretful sluggishness. If you want some lasting creative energy without the awful post-snack slump, try reaching instead for some fresh fruit and veg for nutrients, green tea for alertness, nuts and seeds for satiety, and omega 3 containing foods for mood-boosting and brain junk.

Managing your mindset:

7) Think outside the bounds of your situation

If you’re anything like me, you don’t truly appreciate how good it is to simply be able to breathe through your nose until you’re waist-deep in a cold or flu. “If only I could breathe normally again without choking on my own mucus everything would be awesome,” I’ve said to myself dozens of times. That gratitude barely lasts a couple of weeks after recovery before I’m taking health totally for granted again, griping about some minor other inconvenience instead.

In the same way, it’s so easy to feel trapped by the circumstances of our own lives. Uncertain things like health concerns, financial crises, and once in a century pandemics can storm into our lives and leave us feeling like victims in uncontrollable circumstances. But even when the issue has passed this mindset can remain paralysing, stopping us from taking action “until things are all better” or “when the time is right”.

Pause for a moment and consider: if my circumstances were suddenly ‘normal’ again, what would I be doing? In an ideal scenario how energetic would I feel right now? How would I be spending my time? Then consider: is my current reality really that different? How can I spend my time just as effectively? Looking outside our immediate circumstances and seeing the bigger picture can be an invaluable way to tap back into our natural mental energy and focus on our most important goals.

Written by Maree Railton.