All professions and forms of craft require people to feel good to do their best work. This is particularly profound amongst us creative souls, where emotion and the mood we’re in play a huge part in our output.
To make good art, we need to feel good. There’s no doubt about that.
Obviously doing things that create good vibes over the long run, such as keeping fit and healthy and eating well are important. Occasionally, however, we need a quick little pick-me-up to get us in the mood if we’re feeling in need of a jolt. There are ways to get going sooner, rather than bracing through days of foggy thinking and poor productivity.
Here are some ideas that work for me. You might want to combine two or more in an accumulatively more awesome process of ‘stacking’…
1. 5 deep breaths
It’s amazing how something so simple can be so tough to do. Just do them, don’t fall short of 5, and see how clear you feel afterwards.
2. Cold shower
Get under a shower at it’s absolute coldest. Start warm if you need to and stay under for a good 15 seconds or more. It’s great for waking up your muscles, circulation and your mind, and is great for health and immunity too.
3. Visualise positive memories and thoughts
Positive visualisation is one of the best methods I’ve ever found to put you back in a good, productive mood. Think about a good memory or a few, or construct one from scratch. The brighter, clearer and more sensory the vision, the better.
While we’re on this subject, positive visualisation is one of the best daily habits you can get yourself into to feeling good more often. And it’s not about ‘cooky’ metaphysics; this actually works.
4. Who gives a shit?
What’s worrying you? Have you stopped to realise that no one really gives a shit? Do you really? Say this and feel better.
“Positive visualisation is one of the best daily habits you can get yourself into.”
5. Tidy up and reduce clutter
Clean up your surroundings. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and I’ll go and clean my desk too…).
If you need things around you to stay inspired, there’s no harm in keeping it tidy. For me, a minimal, tidy environment keeps me focused and the ideas flowing.
6. Read something motivating/inspiring
Reading is a great way to interrupt ugly thought patterns and focus on something fresh.
If you can read about inspiring things, that’s even better. This is why it’s good to follow a few motivational blogs or have a book you go back to that you know will fire you up.
It’s best to avoid snacking at all, eating fewer, more satisfying meals, but often we’re in a bad mood because we need to eat.
Go eat, and preferably something with a ‘low glycemic index’ like a peach so that energy gets released more slowly once you’ve eaten, instead of crashing down after things like chocolate, biscuits and coffee.
Napping is not for the weak, it’s the secret of many successful doers, and it need only take 15 minutes to leave you feeling like a warrior once more.
If you’re feeling annoyed or like there is some trapped energy rippling through you, scream and shout for a bit, then move on.
“Napping is not for the weak, it’s the secret of many successful doers.”
10. List achievements
Write down all the things that you’ve achieved and make you proud. These don’t have to be awards or major successes. Often memories of the small successes in life can slip through the cracks. Fish them out and write them down.
Thinking of things to be grateful for is good for you too of course.
11. Run and exercise
Even a 15 minute jog or some press-ups will blow away that dark cloud hanging over you. Follow this by the cold shower and you’re laughing.
12. Drink water
Water enriches and cleanses the body, which has a direct effect on mood. Drink more and often. Draw a ‘W’ on your hand to remind yourself to drink drink drink.
13. Clean yourself
Wash your hands, face, heck your whole body and tell me this doesn’t make you feel great.
There’s nothing quite like physical activity in a pool or the sea to enliven the senses and get your power back.
Sing your favourite Sound of Music number. Neighbours in ear shot? Who cares!
16. Set a goal
Have a think for a while on what you really, really want in life. Then set about getting a single, focused goal down in writing, to put the achievement of what you want, in motion. Set the exact hour and day at which you will strive to achieve it, and commit to getting there. Aim high, but make the goal something you could achieve with a push.
Having more than one goal is fine, but make sure you have a single, highly motivating goal at the forefront, with a timescale of a year or two in which to reach it. Having something exciting to aim for like this is a splendid way of getting moving.
17. Get up earlier
No one is a true ‘night owl’ any more than they are a ‘morning person’. It’s all myth and it’s all in the mind. Get up early today and start the day doing something productive when your mind is fresh. I’m starting to sound like my dad, but he’s right.
“It’s all myth and it’s all in the mind.”
18. Talk to a friend
Social interaction is important. If you’re busy, just a quick phone call with someone funny or positive could be all you need to get from feeling in the dumps to doing fist pumps.
19. Book something different
Make a booking to do something a little out of the ordinary for you. A scuba-diving lesson, the theatre, archery lessons, whatever.
Book and pay for something and then it’s down in the calendar and something on the horizon and something to look forward to.
20. Play music loud
Turn up the speakers and belt out your favourite tunes. Let the real world melt away for a bit.
21. Act as if
Forget those thoughts that stop you from being who you want to be and doing what you need to do. Act as if you are already bold and confident. Act as if you are already a successful painter or author. Act as if you are a doer, and do.
Playful, creative movement in this way is a sure shot way to get in a great mood.
23. Commit to change
Making conscious decisions to change yourself and your circumstances for the better puts you behind the steering wheel. Deciding to commit to something and take responsibility will remind yourself why you’re alive.
When your body and mind can sense responsibility is being taken, you will shift into a state of feeling alive, and you will feel better.
24. Go out, be amongst others
Sometimes we need to be amongst real human beings for a while to feel more ‘real’ and less flat and cardboard. Even sitting around others in a coffee shop and doing some people watching in a change of scene is good for the soul.
By this rather obnoxious term I mean to sit down and do a creative brainstorming, whereby everything you can think of, you put to paper.
Can’t think of what to write for your next short story? Spill your thoughts on a particular topic to paper and see how that helps. Draw pictures; make spider-diagrams and mind maps; make lists and make connections.
26. Fake laugh
This is a silly one, but I wouldn’t have included it if it didn’t work. Laugh like a banshee for a few minutes, then tell me you don’t feel great.
“Laugh like a banshee.”
Mood is strongly affected by the toxins we hold in our bodies. Sweat is one of the quickest and surest ways to get rid of them. Do things that make you sweat, and your mood will lift. Don’t forget to drink fresh water afterwards.
28. Dress smart
Your outward appearance has an effect on your inward state; vice versa too. Take a shortcut to feeling good, by dressing well and dressing sharp, even if it’s just for the mirror.
29. Just get to work
Often the best solution to not feeling in the mood to work, is to just start, even if you start off slow and non-productively. The motivation will follow once you’ve begun.
Combine these, do them one at a time, and mix them up. Then feel good. Then get to work!
More of your ideas are welcome in the comments below.
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"Your blog inspires me so much, and helps me feel somehow not as insignificant, despite the plethora of artists around the world."Natalie, artist