Managing Anxiety To Increase Creativity

black-and-white-creative-desk-pen-medium[1]Do you consider yourself to be an introvert and a creative person? Are you struggling with feeling drained all the time and losing your creative edge? According to Scientific American, new research shows that there are ways that introverts can recharge their batteries. This allows them to increase creativity while also managing anxiety.

Different Forms of Relaxation

Introverts and extroverts have different ways of relaxing. Introverts need time alone in order to feel refreshed. This could include:

  • Reading
  • Journaling
  • Taking a walk.
  • Going for a run.
  • Spending time in nature.

Extroverts, on the other hand, need to interact with other people in order to recharge. This difference doesn’t imply that introverts are antisocial. There are many people who are naturally introverted who are also public figures. President Obama is one example. It just means that introverts can’t be “on” 24/7 like introverts. They need down time to recharge.

Anxiety and Mental Arousal

When introverts are alone, they are able to reduce the amount of stimuli that they are receiving. This means that their minds are capable of relaxing and recharging. When they return to work, introverts will feel more ready to tackle challenges and work on problems. Two ways they can accomplish this are:

  • Quiet environments that provide lower levels of stimulation.
  • Deliberate thinking.

However, when they don’t get a chance to have some alone time, the consequence can be increased mental arousal. and no time to rest. This increased arousal, in turn, increases  anxiety and interferes with creativity and productivity.

Confusion for Introverts

This situation can be confusing for people who may not fully understand that they are introverts. They may see more extroverted people becoming energized in social situations and feel that there is something wrong with them when they need down time to recharge and refresh themselves. When trying to harness your creative juices, keep these things in mind:

  • Extroverts enjoy the reward that comes from completing a task or project. The importance of this reward quality for extroverts is related to the way their brains process dopamine.
  • Introverts are more capable of enjoying the process of doing a task or project, independent of the reward that comes with completing it. This is related to the differences in the ways introverts’ brains process information and experiences.
  • Extroverts enjoy situations that require stimulation and thinking fast.
  • Introverts are able to be creative when they can be contemplative.

Most people fall somewhere on the continuum between introversion and extroversion. Knowing where you are on this continuum can be critical for understanding how you can best go about managing your anxiety and increasing your creativity. This is especially the case if you are an introvert, since most work situations employ strategies for boosting creative thinking that work well for extroverts but not for introverts.

Brainstorming, for example, requires quick thinking and a great deal of social interaction. It works very well for extroverts but it can be overwhelming for introverts. Identifying your optimum level of stimulation can help you identify the kinds of situations that will foster your creativity without leaving you overwhelmed and drained.

Relaxation Training for Introverts

So how can introverts reduce the amount of external stimuli that they are receiving? Since introverts already thrive with quiet introspection, incorporating breathing and stretching exercises can help lower levels of mental arousal. These exercises are similar to those found in mindfulness meditation.

These kinds of techniques also helps to reduce negative thinking. This, in turn, reduces anxiety. Being more attuned to thought processes is what really allows introverts to reduce their levels of mental arousal. Consequently, introverts come away feeling refreshed and ready to interact with the world again.

How to Incorporate Relaxation Training into Your Routine

There are several ways that you can incorporate relaxation training into your daily routine. For example:

  • Begin each morning with stretching and mediation exercises.
  • Meditate and stretch during your lunch break.
  • Take a few minutes in between assignments to mentally relax.
  • Turn off all electronic devices an hour before going to bed, freeing you from distraction.
  • Create a space at home where you can sit quietly.

Understanding What Works for You

Knowing whether you are an introvert or extrovert can aid you in being able to feel refreshed.  In fact, you may have been trying for years to be an extrovert when really you need an introvert’s style of relaxation. Consulting with a therapist can be helpful for understanding which personality you are. It also gives you the opportunity to learn relaxation techniques that best work for you.  

People have to find what works for them. When you understand your particular style, you can better utilize your down time to truly recharge. That way, when you return to work you will feel refreshed, clear-headed, and anxiety free.

Click here to learn more about managing anxiety with Dr. Jane Rubin, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist.

“Jane Rubin, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in Berkeley, California. She works with individuals in Berkeley, Oakland, the East Bay and the greater San Francisco Bay who are who are struggling with depression and anxiety. She also specializes in working with people who are trying to find meaning and direction in their lives.”