The brain science behind why we experience creative blocks

Neuroscience has taught us that the brain continually seeks readability. Each second, it analyzes patterns in our environments and behaviors to make higher sense of the world.

Since people are wired to make clear and simplify, the paradox of the pandemic has been particularly robust to navigate. COVID-19 has modified work conditions, canceled occasions, altered routines, and wreaked havoc on our brains. And this degree of disruption triggers a “survival” mindset. The outcome? Poor creativity.

As we attempt to make sense of recent environments, our brains shift sources to our emotional facilities. This leaves the prefrontal cortex unavailable for creativity and innovation. And with out creativity, our skills to problem-solve, talk, and make use of strategic agility endure. A survival mindset consumes neural sources and prevents higher-order considering. Sadly, this comes at a vital time. In accordance with McKinsey research, leaders who act early and decisively throughout instances of financial disruption reap long-term advantages. Whenever you don’t have the psychological capability for creativity, you miss out on alternatives to enhance your organization’s efficiency.

Should you can overcome the survival mindset, you may higher lead your staff in these turbulent instances. And there’s excellent news: You may engineer your atmosphere to allow your creativity. In the identical approach that water flows when it’s unimpeded, creativity happens naturally. The brain likes to make associations. When we take away boundaries to creativity, new and contemporary concepts will comply with.

Listed here are three frequent roadblocks to creativity, how they come up, and at last how we can handle them.


The downside: Many individuals have struggled with emotions of loneliness and isolation throughout quarantine, particularly the 28% of Americans who stay alone. Are you able to think about having little to no human contact for months? I do know a few of you may since you’ve needed to. It’s no marvel, then, that loneliness elevated 20% to 30% throughout the first few months of the pandemic and that emotional distress tripled. Collaboration sparks creativity, however you may need disconnected socially whereas practising bodily distancing.

The resolution: Attain out to your staff members, in addition to individuals in your community, that can assist you overcome your creativity block. For instance, as I’ve been evaluating totally different facets of our enterprise, I talked to our firm’s chief technique officer, Marcus Brooks. He helped me perceive how huge a task our broader communities play in our private happiness, development, and growth. By proactively reaching out to your staff, colleagues, and contacts, you’ll construct relationships that may foster new concepts and innovation.


The downside: Joseph LeDoux, a well-known neuroscientist, as soon as stated that nervousness is “the value we pay for a capability to think about the long run.” In the identical approach that the human brain can think about highly effective artistic endeavors and world-changing concepts, we also can think about catastrophes, worst-case situations, and unfavorable outcomes. It’s arduous to suppose positively when we are in a state of worry.

The resolution: To beat anxieties, first acknowledge them. Then, observe redirecting your focus. Present occasions can put us in response mode. Give your self an opportunity to breathe and de-stress—ideally by getting outdoors. Personally, I really like being round our bodies of water. I’ll stroll by a river or a lake after I’m feeling caught. If my creativity isn’t stimulated throughout the partitions of my house, I’ve to seek out different sources of inspiration.

Limitations from a shortage mindset

The downside: Our brains unconsciously register high-stress situations. For instance, throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we’re hyperaware of unsafe bodily conditions. It’s possible you’ll flinch when passing somebody in your morning stroll or discover how usually the characters in your favourite TV present shake fingers or hug. Shortage results in emotions of fragility and uncertainty, and this mindset is tough to shake, even when the pandemic have been to finish tomorrow.

The resolution: Acknowledge alternatives that can assist you and your staff recenter. Attempt giving staff a spot bonus for developing with revolutionary concepts or scheduling a lunch-and-learn assembly to create a robust sense of cohesion, objective, and normalcy. You would possibly even need to give everybody a random Friday off to spice up morale. The extra you may encourage individuals’s creativity, the extra snug everybody will really feel, even on this unsure time.

Fostering creativity could be robust proper now, however there are steps you may take to resolve frequent roadblocks. By reaching out, participating in a relaxing exercise, and pushing again in opposition to shortage mindset, you may spark creativity and information your staff towards a extra productive and optimistic future.

Kerry Goyette is the president of Aperio Consulting Group, a company consulting agency that makes use of office analytics and implements research-based methods to construct high-performance cultures, and he or she’s the writer of The Non-Obvious Guide to Emotional Intelligence.