A stressed out mind is not a creative mind. The brain is not in creative mode when it is in stress mode. The brain in "busy-mode" is in survival mode - it's just getting through it. The brain in busy mode is not set up to be able to see things from a different perspective, come up with solutions or new ideas - it's just the way the brain is wired.
This is good for us to understand - not judge as we sit there with busy brains, just understand. Let's run down a few ways stress impacts the human brain and ultimately kills creativity for even greater understanding:
Stress kills brain cells - not what you want to hear about your greatest asset is it? Doesn't it make sense that creativity, among other things, requires a well functioning brain, not one that is getting smaller. It has been suggested by researchers that on-going stress can kill neurons in the brains hippocampus - one of the locations in the brain where neurons are produced. Now moderate amounts of stress are not unhealthy. Moderate amounts, meaning intermittent stress, not the non-stop kind most of us are in, moderate amounts can actually improve brain function and performance. It's like weight lifting for your brain. You put it under a certain amount of stress, it accomplishes great things, but then you give it intentional recovery time, not easy, but essential for a high performing brain. Enter Meditation to help the brain recover, but more on that later.
Stress changes the structure of the brain - while the overall volume of the brain stays the same, chronic stress can cause areas of the brain associated with emotions, metabolism and memory to shrink - also not what we want to hear if a better performing brain is our goal. If it isn't a goal, you can stop reading right now.
Stress dials up the emotional centre in the brain (the amygdala) - making it more challenging to see things from different angles. You know all too well when your emotions get the better of you or feel like they are literally hijacking you in the moment, you can tend to stay stuck in a certain way of seeing the world and forget about coming up with new ideas or solutions when you brain is overrun with emotions - it just ain't happening.
Stress dials up the part of the brain responsible for mind wandering and ruminating - it's called the DMN (Default Mode Network) and a brain that wanders and ruminates to a great extent, because all brains wander, logically, is not set up or interested in focusing, creating and solution generating.
So once again, I repeat, this is so good for us to understand in this moment just how the brain works when it is in stress mode and for many of us, especially today, we are literally in stress mode from the moment we wake each day. We wake and the first thing we reach for is the digital appendage on the nigh stand and there you go, Bang, you have just put your brain in stress mode!
So how do we shift this? How do we protect our lovely brains - one of our greatest assets - literally the CEO of everything out of stress and protect it from stress?
Well, I could suggest things like:
- establish some control over situations that are causing stress
- get a good night's sleep
- get organized & manage your workload better
- change your attitude to stress
All worthy solutions, but here's the thing, when your brain is right in the thick of it, in this non-stop stress mode, as most brains are in even right now as you read these words, it's hard to implement some of these wonderful solutions to stress. You can look up the top 10 solutions to stress till the cows come home, but if your brain is in stress mode you have to find a way to shift it out of this state to even engage and implement one of these solutions.
Enter the need for a tangible practice to actively shift the human brain out of stress mode. This just makes so much sense. One needs a way, a modality, a practice to shift that state of the brain. This is where meditation comes in. Meditation is a tangible proven, today highly researched practice to shift the brain out of stress mode and protect the brain - ultimately creating a better performing, creative brain. It just does this - look up more of the science if you still doubt it in this moment.
Without a tangible practice to shift the brain out of stress mode - you are literally leaving the state of your brain to chance, hoping that today your brain will perform well, will be more creative and to just feel well - all that we need it to be to serve and support our life.
This just makes so much sense to me, how about you?
Helping a few inspired workplaces with this powerful, proven practice.