The high stress of a law career can leave you stuck in a rut.
Repetition and routine can easily become your masters, leaving you bored and joyless. You might think of creativity as unimportant to an attorney’s lifestyle, but creativity yields major benefits for your health and well-being, as well as your overall productivity. Besides providing a welcome release from the stressors of a legal career, creativity helps you solve problems more efficiently and fosters out-of-the-box thinking.
There’s also evidence that creativity can help you improve your resilience under pressure and your mental health—always a must for attorneys, who experience symptoms of psychological distress much more often than the average population.
A study from the University of Otago in New Zealand found that one creative activity per day was enough to raise an individual’s overall sense of well-being, as well as feelings of optimism and positivity. What’s more, the perceived artistic quality of the work participants produced didn’t make any difference. No matter your skill level, you can reap the benefits of creative engagement.
Here are a few easy way to inject some more creativity—and happiness—into your life right away.
#1: Get a Sketchbook or Journal
For an approach to creativity that won’t take much valuable time out of your day, invest in a sketchbook or journal. Doodle for five minutes during your lunch break. Turn to a new sheet of paper to brainstorm a list of creative projects to take on. Write a short poem or just copy down your favorite quotes when you have an extra moment. The choice is yours!
#2: Try Coloring
Adult coloring books are becoming increasingly popular for a reason: They’re nostalgic reminders of a time when we had fewer responsibilities. Plus, they’re a great form of meditation and offer a fun approach to mindfulness. Grab some markers or gel pens, let your mind drift, and spend a few minutes revisiting your childhood.
#3: Go Exploring
Sometimes a new environment is just what you need to get your creative juices flowing. If you have a free afternoon, go to a nearby neighborhood, or simply take a different route to work. Take the time to notice your surroundings in a new way, and let your mind travel with you to novel possibilities. Pop into a shop you haven’t visited before for inspiration, or people watch at a coffee shop you’ve never frequented before.
#4: Make a Vision Board
A vision board, simply put, is a collage that will inspire you for your future. Think about how you envision your ideal life. What images, words, landscapes, mantras, colors, and aesthetics come to mind? Create a collage that reflects not what your life is, but what it could be in your perfect world. Keep it in a prominent place in your home, so you can get inspired by your hopes and dreams every day.
#5: Join a Group
Connecting with others is a great way to infuse your life with new and creative possibilities. If you don’t have the time to join an in-person group through Meetup.com or similar organizations, try an online accountability group to help you along your path to a more creative life, such as artist Leah Piken Kolidas’ Creative Every Day challenges and workshops.
#6: Take a Class
Ever wanted to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill? Interested in coding, painting, sewing, cooking, or singing? Find a class in your area to make new friends and fit some creativity into your weekly schedule. If you’d rather take a class online, try programs like Udemy, CreativeLive, LinkedIn Learning, or Skillshare to find thousands of free and inexpensive courses in everything from architecture to crafts and HTML.
Meditation and other mindfulness practices help you to be more aware of the present moment, and many present possible solutions to complex problems you’ve been wrestling with. Stillness itself is a great catalyst for creative thought. Find a guided meditation you connect with, or simply spend a few minutes on your own in comfortable silence.
#8: Break Out a Cookbook
If you’re stuck in a food rut, eating the same thing over and over or relying a bit too much on delivery, carve out the time to find a great recipe and make a new meal. If weeknights are out of the question, make this a weekend activity with friends or a significant other. Cooking is an absorbing, productive activity, perfect for getting your creative juices flowing and relaxing your overworked mind.
#9: Take Yourself on a Photo Tour
See the world in a new way by snapping photos in your neighborhood. Look at your environment with fresh eyes, and take photos of everything you find intriguing or beautiful. What do you notice that you’ve walked past every day and missed? What people, buildings, or natural settings do you see in a new light?
#10: Head to the Library
Spend an afternoon browsing the library for a good book or magazine. Don’t head to the same sections you usually frequent; instead, wander the aisles and thumb through anything that looks interesting. Who knows? You might discover a new favorite genre or find a hidden gem of a novel.
#11: Ask Questions
Creativity isn’t just about making art. It’s also about changing how you think, and learning to see choices rather than restrictions. In your journal or even just before you go to sleep at night, ask yourself some questions, like: How could I be happier? What do I feel like I’m missing? Where do I want to travel next? What would I like to learn to do? Who would I like to reconnect with? You might just be surprised at the answers!
#12: Take On a Simple DIY Project
You don’t need to do anything drastic to experience the thrill of a do-it-yourself at-home project. Repaint a piece of furniture, decorate an accent wall, or even just go shopping for a new item or two to complement your home. Even a simple change can make a difference, and can inspire you for future small projects.
Pick one of the simple ways above and try it out to energize your creative side.