Generate Ideas with "Flow"


It’s a demanding time of year with no limit to distractions, anxieties, and compounding responsibilities. Maybe you’ve had to pause on a passion project. Maybe you feel like you just aren’t producing anything of value. If you’ve hit a roadblock in your creative output, it’s important to take a brain-break. Have you played recently?

When we perform certain tasks, we become absorbed in a state of heightened focus and creative energy. Psychologists call this process “flow,” a calming immersion in an activity. Children experience flow regularly. Consider their single-minded attention to a task like coloring or building blocks: emotions are contained and energy is channeled toward a specific objective. They are deeply contented, removed from stress and anxiety.

Maybe you reach “flow” on occasion, too, when you are doing something you love (playing sports, crafting, even cleaning). If you’re feeling a lack of creative energy due to stress, seeking out and indulging in tasks and projects you love can help improve your awareness, cognitive processes, and motivation.

Adult coloring, for example, is a growing trend in capturing “flow.” Even for artists, the prospect of filling in an unoriginal design can be rewarding. It is an exercise in relaxation for the amygdala (the fear center of your brain that processes stress). Coloring can help your mind reach a meditative state from which creativity and imagination can emerge. The stress-free activity stimulates the organization and problem-solving faculties of the brain, which can help you process challenges in your other projects, your work life, and your relationships.

In fact, adult coloring is so effective that famed psychologist Carl Jung would prescribe it for anxious patients, and doctors continue to do so today. Crayola recently released a range of adult coloring books, in addition to the many collections already on the market. Many people prefer geometric designs, as symmetry can stimulate and pleasure the brain.

If you struggle to focus, lack motivation, or need inspiration, consider scheduling in some play-time for your brain. There are many channels to creativity. What works for you?