the junction where the arts and community meet

By Corinna Bisgaier, Education Director

Need to break out of a rut? For busy adults, our ability to be creative and look at the big picture tends to be one of the first things we lose when we’re overly concerned with the tasks of life (work, kids, laundry, social obligations). Of course, this myopia can negatively affect your business as well as your personal relationships. So, how to break free?

1. Pattern Interrupt. This one’s easy, do something different and unexpected to help change your thinking. Instead of listening to NPR on your way to work, turn up the Death Metal. Take a different route and really pay attention to your surroundings. Even try responding to a patterned communication in a different way. For instance, instead of telling your child to put on his shoes for the millionth time (getting more and more irritated every time), sing it instead!

2. Connect with Nature. If you’ve ever had to deal with a crying infant, you may have noticed that 90% of the time, just going outside will calm it down. We’re not so different just because we grow a little older! With our constant connection to technology, sometimes easy to forget what we’re missing out on. A short time in nature can really do wonders to your psyche. If you only have 5 minutes, just go out and contemplate a tree or a bush up close. Touch it. Enjoy it. You’ll be amazed at what you find and your brain will open up and start working in a different way. Even better if you can make time for a short walk and really take it in: deep breaths, notice the sounds, look closely at your surroundings.

3. Get the Blood Flowing. Regularly. People who exercise regularly score better on tests of divergent and convergent thinking (creativity), memory, and some higher order thinking skills. For most, just going for a walk is fine as evidenced in a study by Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz from Stanford University. For athletes, more strenuous exercise can boost creativity, but for non-athletes, it can have the opposite effect, according to Lorenza Colzato of Leden University in the Netherlands. So, make that meeting a walking meeting!

4. Take a nap. When you’re ruminating on a problem that seems unsolvable, answers may come when you’re doing something different. Many times, just a routine activity that you can do without thinking will do the trick. Some of my best solutions come while taking a shower, my husband gets the answers while washing the dishes. Naps are great, too, no matter what the reason!

5. Exercise your creative muscles. Just like the muscles in your body, your creative muscles do need to be exercised. One of the best ways to get the creativity flowing is by taking a class in the arts. Whether you’re doing acting improvisation, painting, learning a dance, or trying your hand at printmaking, arts classes help to build new neurological pathways in the brain and can help you look at things from different perspectives. You may not know how the class is going to help you when you sign up, just find something that is appealing and let the process unfold!

Everyone will have some great local options for classes. If you’re looking for ideas in Central New Jersey, certainly get in touch: corinna@westwindsorarts.org

At the West Windsor Arts Center, we have classes for adults that are tried and true like Oil painting, Gentle Yoga, Drawing, Memoir Writing, Photography, Acrylics Painting, and Crochet. Plus we have some more innovative options like Flash Fiction, Acting for Business & Life, Experimenting with Art, Relief Printmaking, and Surface Design on Fabric. Find out more by visiting our Classes page.