Apr 5, 2018

The relationship between stress and creativity

Popular opinion might say that in order to be creative one needs both stimulation and room to breathe. Popular opinion might also say that being in a stressful environment may hinder their creativity but as it turns out, stress and creativity aren’t always mutually exclusive. Those stressed out employees that wear many hats may actually be the most innovative ones in the office due to that stress. It’s all about finding the right amount of stress to bring out the creative side in you. Here are three different kinds of stress and their connection to creativity.

1. Task-Switching Stress

We know, our boss has told us too to stay focused on the task at hand and give it your all. However, in recent studies it has been shown that frequently changing gears forces you to change your view of each task as you revisit it. This helps to shake up the thought process before you hit that dead end wall. This style of working fosters more creativity and avoids the rigid thinking that occurs when you focus for too long on the same task.

Changing the subject refreshes your view of each undertaking, curing the classic mental block problem. Speaking of switching topics…

2. Meaningful Stress

Obviously not all stress is going to foster creativity and good ideas. That’s why it’s important to understand the stressors that are seen as constructive and challenging to an employee’s goals. The two stress conditions that are known to nurture creativity are known as “on an expedition” where your work is low-pressure but high in meaning and “on a mission” where your work is high-pressure and high in meaning.

When people reach goals and achieve tasks they consider meaningful, they feel good and become inspired to tackle their next job. The relationship between stress and creativity here depends on how you perceive the stress you’re under at any given time. Try to find the meaning behind the task you’re trying to achieve and the stress and that may be just the push you need to think outside of the box.

3. Deadline Stress

We’ve all felt this one. The stress where procrastination won leading all the way up until the time the task was due. However, as mentioned above, certain amounts of pressure are important to keeping a creative task moving forward. The stress of a due date may not seem exciting, but the time-sensitive environment it creates can give your work the focus it deserves and help to fend off any distractions.

The relationship between stress and creativity is not as toxic as one might think. In fact, small doses of stress such as juggling multiple projects or working under a tight deadline, are likely to produce the best ideas because they motivate your brain to work toward specific goals. Don’t let this blog that actually welcomes the idea of stress, well, stress you out. Rather, embrace the stress and let it spark your creative side. And remember, if you ever do get too stressed out, you can always count on our team here at Design Thinking to help you through all of your marketing challenges.