5 Ways To Stay Inspired And Stop Sensory Overwhelm

July 16, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

You have probably read these words from me before, but if you are a creative, your inspiration is a priority. We know that in order for us to create, we need inspiration, but we do very little to keep ourselves receptive to inspiration. We seek it out there, but what is out there, what can spark your inspiration, is not what inspiration is. That is only part of the process and it is not even the most important part.

Let me explain. In order for you to create, you need to feel inspired, right? There needs to be that sort of inner ignition that makes you want to create something. Very often we think that we need to seek inspiration, it is out there and it needs to come to us. We travel to bucket list locations, we stand on mountains at sunrise, we scroll and scroll and scroll through our social media feeds and the more uninspired we feel, the harder we try to find it.

The thing is that inspiration actually lives inside of you. It is the part of you that is receptive to little sparks and the more susceptible you are, the smaller the sparks can be to ignite your creativity. Visual stimuli are everywhere after all and not everyone feels inspired to create after seeing them. This means that the incitements are there....always....but your receptivity to them is what cause you to feel less inspired.

5 Ways to make sure you stay inspired and stops overwhelmI dream my painting and then I paint my dream ~Vincent Van Gogh

So, it is your wavelength that you need to take care of first and foremost. If you overload your senses by looking for inspiration in a forced kind of way, you actually diminish your receptivity to them even further. You sort of become numb to all the little things that could spark new ideas.

These days it is oh so easy to get an overload of stimuli. You wake up in the early morning all inspired, you grab your phone and after half an hour of scrolling on your favourite social media or reading through your emails, you feel totally numb or your brain feels like it has just fragmented all those wonderful ideas into tiny little segments. Often you don't even feel so great anymore after starting your day like this. Overwhelm and sensory overload is killing for your opens to new ideas. It is not the sparks that are missing, it is your ability to receive and translate it into new ideas that is absent.

So, what to do to stay inspired?

1. If you want to be creative, don't grab your iPhone or other device first thing in the morning, otherwise what you read and what you see will determine your day. Just start your day doing what you really want to do FIRST and don't let the lives of thousands of others determine your sentiment of the day. I don't know about you, but often after scrolling for a few minutes I just go numb and even the most beautiful pictures look boring after that. It is like nothing can excite me anymore. So....limit the use of your device so you can re-connect to yourself...

2. Write pages in a journal in a stream of consciousness kind of way. This means you simply write what comes to mind, but you keep writing for a set amount of time or you write a set amount of pages. I have been writing 3 A4 pages every single day for at least 20 years. It gets all the thoughts out and onto the paper, which leads to a clearer mind. Everything that it was thinking about and tried to remember is now on the paper, so the channels through which you can receive sparks are no longer clogged up. I use the method of Julia Cameron (Morning Pages) as described in her book The Artist's Way

5 ways to stay inspired and prevent overwhelmOld DutchPainterly forest scene conveying stillness and serenity

3. You might not want to hear this, but you need time to be alone....It is very hard to maintain a high level of receptivity when you are constantly surrounded by other people. This again makes your mind become reactive and agitated and an agitated mind is not good at coming up with ideas. I actually need a lot of time on my own, otherwise I loose touch with my creativity completely. Often after holidays I would be totally unable to create for weeks

4. I am not sure how this is going to go down with you, but walking helps. Yes....walking. If I feel overwhelmed, especially after I have been to a party, watched a little too much tv, spent too much time scrolling on Instagram, I really need to take a walk....on my own or with my dog. As long as your dog does not engage with you in a conversation, this should be fine. I know that I need a good 20 minutes for the mind to become still and to notice the surroundings again. And so I walk, I breathe in the fresh air and start noticing the little magical things that surround me. 

5. Find activities that make your mind go still. These are usually those things that require your full attention, that make you loose track of time. For me this is art journaling, drawing or baking. If I am busy creating a page in my art journal, all the thoughts, that occupied my mind, simply stop. It could be gardening for you, meditation, horseback riding, cooking or even driving. I often go out for a drive when I feel like my mind is becoming a bit chaotic. I also go to exhibitions and museums, but I take care to really take my time and look at everything closely. After all the artist took a long time making it and looking at paintings with my full attention makes my mind go still. It is a slower kind of stimulating your senses than scrolling on the internet and it stays with you longer.

So the trick here is to actively seek out stillness so your mind becomes clear and can actually receive the little sparks that are all around us. It really is never the problem that there are no ideas out there. It is always a case of not being able to receive and translate them into ideas. Think of it like this ; inspiration works like a two way channel. If you clog it up by too many thoughts, sparks can not get to you. If you clog it up with sensory overload, no idea can come out of you. If you keep the channel clean, inspiration can flow more easily and you'll be getting ideas from the most unlikely things.

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