I’m tired, really tired as I write this.
I have a son, an adorable, energetic, curious, life-loving, 18-month old named Asher. He’s my joy. He’s also a terrible sleeper.
Asher wakes up at least five out of seven nights a week. When he’s up, he stays up for two or three or four or five hours.
“How do you function?” ask many of my friends, both moms and non-moms.
We can’t replace sleep, and sleep gets us to a healthier place that fosters creativity and allows us to make an impact.
Although I strongly believe this, right now, sleep isn’t easy to come by for me. And whether or not you have kids, I bet you still struggle with exhaustion at times.
Maybe you’re overworked, stressed or generally have a lot going on in your personal life.
So how do we manage? And better yet, how do we stay creative through these difficult periods so we can make a valuable contribution?
To access our creativity, whether we’re beat or fully rested, we need to make space for it. Here’s how to tap into your creativity when you’re exhausted.
How to Tap into Your Creativity When You’re Exhausted
1. Pick a Routine Experience
Drinking coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Or grabbing an extra large iced latte when it’s a hot summer day and going for a long walk.
The long walk with fuel in hand is my routine experience. The caffeine fix is an added bonus.
Whether I’m listening to a podcast, an audio book, or my own thoughts, this time is my time. I get lost in thought. I daydream, and I escape, whether I’ve had five hours or eight hours of sleep. I get inspired, I feel good, and it naturally leads to a new a idea. Or maybe it doesn’t. But it certainly can.
2. What Are You Grateful For?
Second to sleep, my biggest source of energy comes from gratitude. And energy spurs creativity.
Admittedly, in the past couple of days, gratitude has been harder to come by. (I just want a good night’s sleep and everything sucks until I get it!)
So when gratitude isn’t easily accessible, I go to the Five Minute Journal. I love this simple tool.
The Five Minute Journal prompts you to list three things you’re grateful for first thing in the morning.
For example, here are my three points of gratitude from a random day in August.
- Spending the morning with Evan (my husband) and Asher (my adorable, sleepless toddler).
- Having friends who lend an ear when I’m having a rough day.
- Having the opportunity to build a business and life I love.
The result? A mindset shift from “I’m so damn tired, how will I get through today?” to “Damn, things are good and I’m happy despite being tired.”
It’s so easy to dwell on the negative, especially when we’re exhausted. But negativity is the biggest energy suck, and ultimately the greatest creativity killer.
3. Reduce Screen Time
Computers, iPhones, iPads. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. Although sometimes necessary in our day to day, all of this connection and screen time add to our weariness.
Think about it. You’re already tired and you’re checking Facebook or scrolling through your text messages. We’re stimulated by 10 likes here, 5 loves there, and what so and so is doing today. There’s always a new article to read or an interesting video to watch.
This is too much stimulation when we don’t have the mental capacity for it. And again, added exhaustion prevents us from accessing our creativity.
So reduce screen time as much as you can. Find a soothing activity that allows you to tap into gratitude – like reading a book, going for a walk, or meditating.
4. Be OK with Doing Nothing
We all want to boost our energy. We all want to feel great, be productive, creative, and generally just feel our best.
But sometimes life takes over. We have things to do and stress to deal with. Some days performing at our peak energy level or even that mid-level isn’t an option.
Give yourself permission to do nothing. Let it go. Lay down. Take a nap. Don’t force it.
And trust that the creativity, the inspiration will come back, especially if you’re doing work that feeds your curiosity.