Like with all habits, it helps to start small. Try something new that you’ve always been curious about or interested in learning more about. Starting small could mean taking a routine activity and doing it in a slightly different way. For example, if you take a walk each day, try taking a completely new route. Notice the different things you see and hear. Just a small change in a regular pattern can help spur creative ideas.
Asking yourself some questions can also help you get started with a new or revived creative outlet. What would I do if it didn’t have to be perfect? What did I enjoy doing as a child? Could I do something like that now? Start by writing down your answers and see what comes up for you.
Another challenge for many people is that they don’t see creative activities as a valuable way to spend time. If this describes you, remember that pursuing creative activities IS absolutely productive because it’s an integral part of tending to your well-being and a critical component of self-care. Here again, starting small becomes even more helpful. If you’re interested in creating art, try taking a virtual tour of a museum or take an online art class. (See some options in our Resource Guide.)
If investing in a couple new supplies is possible for you, that can sometimes provide a helpful spark – consider purchasing a set of new colored pencils and an adult coloring book. If you enjoy cooking or baking, set a goal of trying out a new recipe once per week, or find a few cooking blogs or recipe websites to search for new ideas. Or you could try doing a bit of research on a topic you’ve always wanted to learn more about. Maybe find a book about a topic that you’ve always wanted to learn more about and from there, dig even deeper. Are there podcasts related to that topic that you can listen to? How about a TED talk?
Embrace a beginner’s mind by asking lots of questions and write down notes or record them if you can. Follow your curiosity and experiment with new ideas. One small action might trigger another.
Here’s a collection of ideas for helping spark creativity (Ideas compiled and adapted from Jenny Garrett’s and Gretchen Rubin’s online resources):
- Digital detox: Even for 30 minutes or an hour, put away your digital devices. Give your thinking mind a break and allow space for your ideas to flow.
- Get outside: Whether it’s going for a walk in your neighborhood or nearby park or for a hike in the mountains, getting outside for movement and fresh air helps clear your head and nature of any kind can provide a boost, spark an inspiring idea, or provide fresh perspective.
- Listen to upbeat/happy music: Studies suggest that listening to happy music promotes more creative thinking .
- Take notes and collect: If you’re interested in a certain subject, start a notebook to take notes as you explore. Collecting images that you love from magazines or newspapers, saving photos, or objects and keeping them in one place can be a helpful way to spark new ideas and have a go-to resource for spurring your imagination for a project or pursuit. An online bulletin board like Pinterest.com can be a fast way to collect resources from the Internet into one place.
- Sleep and Rest: Lack of quality sleep can be an impediment for all wellness components in our lives, and that includes creativity. And when battling the challenges of MS fatigue, sleep becomes even more important.
- Building a small creativity routine that works best in your day: Many people report that they are more productive, make decisions more effectively, are the clearest, and are more creative in the morning. If morning is a good time for you, try to build in 5 minutes for creativity as part of your morning routine.
- Take a shower: Sometimes ideas pop in your head when you’re least expecting them. When you are feeling low-energy or in a funk, try taking an invigorating shower.
- Brainstorm with others: Connect with friends or family on Zoom or via other social platforms with the aim of sharing ideas and or progress on projects you are working on. Or even work on your projects together while on Zoom. A great way to stay socially connected as well as channeling your creativity. Some people have found it helpful to create a group on a free messaging service, such as What’s App, to share ideas or photos that are inspiring them.
- 5 minute doodle: Take 5 minutes to draw doodle on a page. This free-flowing activity without judgement can be relaxing and gives you space to allow your mind to wander.