10 of the best ways to relieve a creative block


Unfortunately, we’re not all born with super human creative powers, and at times the ideas really just aren’t flowing. A little like a glass bottle of tomato sauce that you’ve been watching for what feels like hours to release the goods, you just need to offer a little gentle persuasion, or in this case, jam a piece of cutlery in! (I now fear my analogy has taken a dark turn)

So what proverbial pieces of cutlery have we found? (I’m still running with it!)

1. Music

The sounds that you surround yourself with can greatly affect the way that you work. Personally, when I need to crack on with a pile of work, 90’s metal is the only thing that can get me through, but I’m fully aware that that might just be me. Even if you feel you can get distracted by music, take a break, grab a coffee and put Spotify on shuffle, it’s amazing the work a few rhythmic cords can have. We’ve been finding our music treats on the site Various Artists of late.

2. Squirreling

Hiding food? After watching a talk at Wonder Inn in Manchester by Rita Cervetto from Common Good it all became clear. Once you receive a new brief for a shiny new project your brain goes into overdrive, ideas come spilling out of your brain and you just want to create all of it at once. Squirreling promotes a calmer approach. Once you’ve received said shiny brief, you sit back, take a moment and tidy. Clear your desk, shred the piles of paper that have started to take over, put all of the design books away, restock and find all of your missing stationary and get ready. This act of tidying not only gives the brief time to soak in but, also means when you are ready to face the project, you’ll have all the tools ready to do it, neatly in front of you.

And for those of you who have been hiding your food as an act of Squirreling…think again my friends.

3. Running

I took up running around 4 years ago. One night, after a hell of a week in work, I’d just devoured an entire pizza and washed it down with a bottle of wine I began to think that this was not perhaps the healthiest way to de-stress and get my brain working again. Several, slow shuffling, huffing months later I completed a triathlon and the rest is history. Running is now well and truly ingrained in my process. I know when I need it, and I can already predict at what stages of a project I’ll need to get out again. There are zillionions of studies into how running affects your brain, your mood, your mental health — but for me, all I know is I’ll leave the house feeling stressed, up tight and tired and return full of beans, smiling, if not a little red in the face. I never run with music, the rhythmic sounds of my feet taking me forwards keeps my mind ticking. I think through all of my worries as I run, and seem to be able to dismiss them or think up a plan of action to fix them.


4. Yoga

Yoga asks us to take time for ourselves, to focus inwards and to stretch outwards. It asks us to be kind to ourselves and check in with how we’re feeling. All fabulous for the sensitive creatives that we are. We can be hard on ourselves, mentally and physically. Hunching over a desk for 7 hours a day can’t half leave you feeling like you need stretching in a vice. Yoga first thing in the morning or before bed works best for us. Slowly and sensitively waking up your mind first thing, or stretching yourselves and calming your thoughts before a good nights sleep. and you don’t have to spend your hard earned pennies on £15 hot yoga classes, just watch the latest vid online from that friendly, bendy American lady (and turn up the thermostat if you’re after a good sweat)

5. Watch a talk

Whether physically trotting down to your local venue and sitting down and watching a talk, or reclining into your computer chair on a Friday afternoon and catching up on the latest Creative Morning Talks or  there is nothing quite like hearing real words coming out of a fellow human’s mouth. Talks are such an easily digestible tool, and more often than not you’ll hear something in one that will set many cogs turning and start you thinking in a whole new light.

6. Hike Up a Hill

A piece of advice that I’m sure you were expecting from Off Grid, but we really can’t stress enough the advantages of just getting outside. Walking, talking and stretching your legs does wonders for the mind, and if you manage to get out to somewhere beautiful, find the highest point and just breathe in the view. Nothing is more inspirational than what Mother N gave us.

7. Find what else you love

Being a creative is seen as a vocation, many people feel that they should live and breathe what they do. But what we’ve learned inspires us most is stepping away from what we do. Find new hobbies and interests, try new things, push yourself and see what else you can do. Who knows, you might be the next big rower/hiker/potter/black belt that the world is looking for. And we can promise you that when you sit back at your desk, you’ll feel more fired up to do your job, having given your brain a break.

8. Talk it out

Or ‘rubber ducking’ if you will. The art of getting stuck and frustrated for hours on end, finally giving in and asking a college, only to begin explaining your issue for the answer to jump right into your head without the other person even having to open their mouth. Or even better, remove the need to even interact with a human with Duckie.

9. Travel

Yes, we would all love to take that 2-month summer break and go and find ourselves in Indonesia, but that’s not always wholly practical for us mere mortals. But to remove the feeling of FOMO make sure you do get out and explore when you can. Even a one-night camping trip to a drizzle ridden Edale can turn into one of the best weekends of your year and comes in at least £10 cheaper than said trip to Indonesia (we drank a lot of beer). There are so many wonderful places you can fly, drive, cycle or walk to right from your very own doorstep. Never let being too busy get in your way. Your work will thank you for it.

10. Get up early/stay out late

Wake. Shower. Dress. Travel. Work. Lunch. Work. Travel. Tea. TV. Bed. *Repeat

We have all been guilty of falling into this pattern. In the week you get sucked in by the humdrum of working life, you get home tired and all your brain wants to do is switch off. But there is so much you’re missing out on. Just a couple of mornings a week get up that bit earlier and get out for a run, go to that early bird yoga class you’ve never managed to get to, or go out to your favorite coffee shop before heading to the office. After work, meet Helen who has been asking to meet for a drink for over a month now, go and watch that film at the cinema that everyone else has been talking about. You might be tired and stressed, but if you don’t get to live your life around the edges of work, you’ll forever be missing out. Life is happening now.