My best ideas come to me in the shower.
It’s like everything in this crazy ass world all of a sudden makes so much sense and all of these great thoughts just flow through my brain as I stand there in the water washing the day away. And then, I get out of the steam and have to hurry to dry off so that I can get to the notebook and pen that I keep just outside my ensuite.
I’ve only started doing this quite recently though because, for the longest time, I was under the impression that I could hold on to these amazing thoughts and ideas for as long I needed. I believed that they would hold steady in my head until after I finish with my nightly routine and was able to sit and write it down. And to be honest, I never really thought about it too deeply, other than “man, I wish I could remember what I was thinking about…” It was like a beautiful dream that I could barely remember but felt the raw frustration of it fizzling out of my memory.
But then, one day, I got an epiphany. An “ah ha moment” as it’s called in therapy. You see, I battle with anxiety, and one of the main things that help me is writing.
I know, I know… I just said one of those “mental health words” and tried to brush past it like it’s the norm. I mean sure, I know that normalcy is what we’re ultimately striving for when it comes to speaking about the things we struggle with…
and that one day we’ll be able to talk about depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc. with the same comfort and knowledge as we do physical ailments…
but we’re just not there yet so I won’t do that to you. Don’t worry, I got you. So real quick (just so we’re on the same page) let’s talk about what this is.
The “A” Word
Anxiety isn’t just worrying. It’s the process of constantly thinking about and being worried about irrational concerns. These racing thoughts often cause me to be restless, in mental distress, and will ultimately interfere with my everyday life and its activities. It’s hard to focus, I’m jittery, and sleep is almost impossible. But the biggest thing for me is my appetite… which is almost nonexistent in the presence of high anxiety-filled days.
And that’s crazy to hear coming from me because food is a Great Love of mine.
So what helps? Well, yoga and meditation are big in my life. I do one or both every single day. I also try to eat good, healthy meals and stay physically active (building those endorphins!) I also often write poems and prose or journal to handle these heightened levels of stress. And it helps. So much. My racing, irrational worries subside… like Magic.
So yes, writing is cathartic. But realizing that wasn’t my ah-ha moment. That actually came when I realized I was harboring deep-rooted anxiety from those thoughts I wasn’t able to get out and express. The unconscious frustration I was having due to not being able to fully record my thoughts and ideas was actually taking a toll on me!
Having figured all of this out, I set out to remedy it. Maybe it’s the researcher in me, but finding a way to “fix it” became something I really needed to do. But anyone who knows how mental health struggles work knows this isn’t something that you can “fix” it’s something you treat. So, I figured out that those precious 15 to 20 minutes from the time I get out of the shower to when I’m able to write were crucial. I, therefore, improved the process and placed paper right outside my bathroom so that I could jump right to it as quickly as possible.
Simple. Yet, effective.
I say all that to say this… If you find that your creativity is blocked or that you can’t complete the goals you set for yourself or that you simply can not have a good night’s rest then it’s time to become more mindful. To be more mindful of the times you feel free or become productive. And what does that look like? Well, it begins by asking yourself very simple questions and taking the time to answer them thoughtfully and truthfully.
What does inspiration look like for you?
What are you doing?
Where are you?
What tools do you need?
And (most importantly) how do you make sure that you have access to it when you need it?
When you find these answers, hold on to them. Cherish them. Make space for your observations and conclusions. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. And the process is sure to be a different experience for everyone, but that’s ok. Finding a little thing that makes a big difference is one of the most important (yet underrated) lessons we learn as human beings.
Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than to the large things; to the every day things nearest to us rather than to the things that are remote and uncommon.
Booker T. Washington