Everyone needs a break now and then; a time to relax, recoup, and
rest. As a college student, I’ve really learned to value the break time I get because
the semester itself is non-stop. What I didn’t realize is the importance of giving your
mind a break as well as your body.
I am a creative person by nature, I keep a journal full of ideas and thoughts
that I have as well as other things. This past semester has been extraordinarily busy.
I took a drafting class that ate up my time, as well as other schoolwork and joining
a sorority. I began to notice that I wasn’t journaling as much, not for lack of time
(although that did contribute) but because I just wasn’t feeling as creative. There
was a mental block.
It took some time before I made the connection between stress, structure,
and creativity. When I have a lot on my plate, I make lists and plan out my days in
order to cope and accomplish all my tasks. While this system helps me manage my
time, it leaves very little wiggle room. I also didn’t schedule a lot of down time. I
wasn’t giving myself time to journal, sketch, or do anything that really gave me a
For me, creativity is very similar to drawing or playing an instrument or ice-
skating. If I don’t practice, I lose it and it takes awhile to get back into the swing of
things. I hadn’t let myself be creative. Instead I let my mind get clouded with stress
and I structured every part of my life.
My solution: let go; even if it is for 15 minutes, an hour, or a day, giving
yourself time to just be is wonderful.
Here are some of things I do when I’m feeling bogged down by stress and
structure and the creativity isn’t flowing. They’re sure to recharge your batteries!
•Write: take 5–10 minutes (or longer) and just write out whatever comes
to your mind. Hold nothing back. This is especially great in the morning. It
frees up ideas inside my head.
•Draw: doodling does wonders and lets your mind think freely. It’s low
stress and you never know what will end up on paper.
•Meditate: there are some really cool apps or videos that do meditation
where a voice describes a scene. Imagining a scene like a forest and a
lake, or a sunny meadow may sound cliché, but it helps me to focus on
one thing and picture it in my mind. (side effect: sometimes I fall asleep!)
•Take a real break: spend a day or the weekend “wasting time.” Make no
concrete plans. Be impulsive. If you want to read a book for fun, do it.
Watch some TV, go for a run, cook, follow every whim. Most importantly,
don’t worry about anything. Just let yourself be.
Rebekah Troutman is a student studying English and Fine Arts, British at heart, writer, reader, designer, thinker, avid tea drinker, wannabe world traveler, dabbler, doodler, and pursuing happiness in all aspects of life.