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How to manage your Creative health

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Listening to Chris Evans talking about Mental Health Awareness Week on the radio this week got me thinking about mental health, and a recent conversation I’d had with my colleagues about what I’m going to dub ‘Creative Health’.

Like Chris, I’m a keen runner, and for me running is the ultimate ‘headspace’ I need to manage both my mental health and hand in hand with that, my creative health – my ability to come up with creative, innovative, award-winning campaign ideas.

My mantra has long been healthy body, healthy mind. I honestly believe running helps me: I sleep better, gain focus, release endorphins and very often have flashes of inspiration for campaigns that meet client briefs too.

As an agency that prides itself on creativity, I’m fortunate to be part of a team who appreciate that the best ideas aren’t tapped out in 5 minutes between emails whilst sitting at a desk, but that hasn’t always been the case in my working life. So, for anyone struggling with their Creative Health, here are my 7 top tips for getting your inspiration on:

  1. Give yourself permission
    If you need to generate ideas don’t apologise for taking time to do so. Step away from your desk (by all means tell your colleagues where you are going) – but don’t apologise that getting creative means stepping away.
  2. Find the right space
    As I mentioned, my ‘right space’ is running. I slip a mini notepad and pen in my pocket and when inspiration hits, I scribble it down. Bath crayons to scribble on the shower screen are also highly rated. You’ll know what works for you – go there.
  3. Move
    I believe movement is a key part of the process. Exercise releases endorphins, which makes you feel good. And if you feel good you’ll work better. So stand up, move about a bit, go for a walk, a cycle or a run. Play with your dog.
  4. How much time?
    I don’t think you can define how long to be creative for. I’m a fan of reading a brief and giving myself a day or so to digest before I start the creative process. Sometimes that process takes 30 minutes, sometimes 3 hours. But when you start to struggle, it’s time to stop.
  5. Supplement creativity with research, but do so purposefully
    Ideas need research, which means trawling online, speaking to people, noticing your environment and things happening in your day-to-day life. When researching try to be purposeful, otherwise you’ll be an hour down the line and no idea what you’ve achieved – something that won’t help your mind or creativity.
  6. Make it a team activity
    Work with a team for a ‘no ideas are bad’ session. Anyone can help – ask your family, friends or reach out to peers.
  7. Reach for the stationery
    Make it fun. I find A3 paper and my daughter’s felt pens make documenting top line ideas significantly more fun, so get your stationery on.
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Zoe Paines

Hi, I’m Zoe, Senior Account Manager on the PR side at Brand Content. I’ve spent 15 years in communications having worked in-house for PR departments including Nationwide, Confused.com, Friends Life and Aviva (a bit of a financial services geek I suppose). From broadcast PR on house prices, consumer coverage for pensions, crisis communications and managing changes of listed company brand name I’ve covered most products and services in financial services. Having spent a year in the accountancy team at WHSmith as part of my degree I’m (perhaps unusually for a PR) a lover of spreadsheets and numbers so happy to hunt out the news behind the numbers. Outside of work I’m a mummy of two and I love to run (when I have time). My husband is a personal trainer and runs a gym so life is fun-filled but hectic. A glass of wine and a movie at the end of the week helps me relax but for a real recharge of batteries there’s nothing I like better than a family beach holiday somewhere hot and sunny!

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