Many of us know about the great masterpieces and discoveries that were made during times of quarantine and self-isolation: Shakespeare’s King Lear, Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Frida Kahlo’s first self-portrait, and Sigmund Freud’s outline of psychoanalysis. Unfortunately, not all of us are Shakespeare or Frida Kahlo. We are but mere humans, trying our best in a world filled with many digital distractions, work responsibilities, and familial duties. When we’re barely just surviving, is it possible to still be imaginative and find joy in the things that we create?
Absolutely. As long as we create conditions that can allow creativity and imagination to seep through, we can still find ourselves having moments that spark new ideas. If you find that you’ve been facing creative blocks during the COVID-19 crisis, here are some ways to boost your imagination and creativity while stuck at home.
Take online classes or tutorials
There’s nothing like receiving mentorship from people who know more than you about a certain field. If you’ve always been interested in taking up certain skills like learning a new instrument or a new language, don’t hesitate to look into what kind of online classes you can take. A study found that learning unfamiliar skills that required a lot of engagement of our brain’s working memory, long-term memory, and other high-level cognitive systems can actually help us preserve our memory. So if you’re in quarantine or self-isolation and on the lookout for activities that will be beneficial for you, take up those online piano lessons or buy audiobooks that can help facilitate your foray into learning a foreign language. Learning a new skill that has nothing to do with your current job can help you find an escape from your work’s day-to-day responsibilities and might be the push you need to find creative ways to solve problems and come up with new ideas at work.
Listen to podcasts
Many people, especially those who consider themselves more “visual” in their learning and entertainment, shy away from the idea of listening to podcasts because it’s hard to visualize scenarios when you’re only listening to them. But that is the exact reason why a podcast is good for boosting our imagination—podcasts force us to visualize stories and narratives in our minds. We’re compelled to build pictures in our heads and use our imagination instead of relying on a screen. If you find the idea of listening to a podcast intimating, look for a topic that piques your interest, whether it’s history, true crime, psychology, and other genres. Give it a chance; since there has been an influx of podcasts in the past decade, you’re bound to find one that will surely tickle your fancy.
Limit your binge-watching
There’s a reason why it’s called the “idiot box.” While movies and TV shows can certainly spark our creativity and inspire us, especially when what we’re watching is good storytelling, binge-watching may not necessarily be the best way to boost our creativity since it requires very little engagement from us. Simply watching a TV show or a film is one way we can turn off our brains, and it’s helpful to us in that it can provide an escape and a level of relaxation, but it’s also like a drug. It can create an unhealthy pattern and a pseudo-addiction that keep us from creating. While there’s nothing wrong with watching films and TV shows, consider stopping yourself from binge-watching.
Put a cap on your social media usage
A Silicon Valley insider opened up about how developers are intentionally making social media accounts addictive. Through the endless-scrolling feature, users are more inclined to spend hours and hours of their day on their phones or tablets, just looking at the lives of others in digital form. If you’re spending the majority of your time on Facebook and Instagram, you’re only more likely to compare yourself and your progress with others, and not necessarily building or creating things you can be proud of. So put a cap on your social media use and see just how much time you have for more valuable things.
Or You Can Just Be
There is also another option: You can choose to be kind to yourself and not push yourself too hard. We get creative blocks sometimes because we force ourselves to come up with content or new ideas when our bodies and minds are begging us for rest. So be kind and compassionate to yourself, get enough sleep, eat well, catch up with your loved ones through Zoom, stop comparing yourself with Shakespeare, and speak kindly to your heart. A well-rested spirit will go a long way in giving you inspiration and creativity.