Intern Files

Ways to Cultivate Creativity in the Office

Carrie sat staring out the window, mesmerized by the glittery sunlight reflecting off the water. Longing to be out on the water, she let herself sink deeper and deeper in to the recesses of her mind. “Carrie?” a voice jolted her out of her hypnosis. She tore her eyes away and looked up. “Phone for you,” her assistant said. “Take a message,” Carrie replied. She glanced around at the piles that awaiting her attention; she felt the impending doom reach up and tighten around her airways. Deadline week. 

I wrote that little paragraph on a “mind break” in between posting for my social media clients and writing blurbs for our March Linked Magazine issue. Deadlines are stressful. Work in general can be stressful, but don’t have a panic attack like Carrie. Staying healthy is important—physically and mentally.  Here at High Five Media, we believe that a healthy mind is a creative mind, and vice versa. 

A study on creativity at Saybrook Universtiy showed that students engaged in a creative activities reported feeling “significantly happier.”  The researchers wrote: “Engaging in creative pursuits allows people to explore their identities, form new relationships, cultivate competence and reflect critically on the world.” 

 

So regardless of whether or not your job is inherently creative, it is important to allow space for your brain to exercise its creativity.

Maybe you aren’t a writer, singer or dancer. So what? The key is to be open-minded. Creativity can be applied to all aspects of life—from making your bed to sorting through data. Submersing yourself in a creative activity allows your mind to stop fixating on problems and think more broadly. It allows you to take a step back and see the big picture; it gives you the insight and clarity of mind that you'll need to think through other problems throughout the day. If that isn't enough, it makes you happier, too. 

Essentially, being creative helps you grow in insight, self-reflection, and how you interact with others. It grows you as a person. 

How can you be more creative in the office? Here are some tips and ideas for you: 

1. Surround your workspace with fun images that make you happy.

There are several research studies out there about designing offices. But what happens when you’re stuck in a building that was already there? Well, at High Five, we believe in making your space special to you. We are constantly finding fun posters or memes to print out and put on our personalized bulletin boards. Not only do the images and pictures make us h-a-p-p-y, they help us get a deeper glimpse inside our co-workers’ minds. The way that the people around you use the space that is given to them—their humor, favorite quotes, the way they construct their to-do lists—can all be ways to let you see just how unique they are. 

2. Keep a creative activity in your desk drawer. Pull it out and work on it from time to time. 

I almost always have some sort of embroidery project that I keep in my backpack. When my brain gets in a fog and I need to physically step away from my computer, I pull it out and find a seat by the window to unwind my thoughts. Knitting, embroidery, calligraphy, water coloring, and writing are all great ways to relax your mind so that you can go back to work refreshed. 

3. Brainstorm visually—let the ideas flow. 

Sometimes brainstorming is taxing … but it doesn’t have to be! Brainstorming visually and creatively is a great way to get everyone involved because there are fewer hindrances in sharing ideas. Plus, there are fewer distractions and everyone can focus more on the project before them. 

4. Have fun with your co-workers.

If we merely see creativity as “work”, we forget the beauty of it. Don’t forget to have fun with your co-workers. The more you can play off each other, the more great work you can create together. Laughter truly is the best medicine, and can keep everyone happy and working together effectively. 

5. Be supportive, be encouraging, be rewarding

Part of creating and working together is supporting and encouraging one another to keep the creativity going! Sometimes the hardest part about keeping the creative juices flowing is having the courage to keep them flowing. By being supportive to those around you, you provide a safe environment for people to branch out and dream their big dreams. 

Almost just as important is being supportive, encouraging, and rewarding to you. Stuck in a rut? Love yourself. Express yourself. By taking care of yourself, you can be the best that you can be for your workplace and those around you!

How are you being creative today? Tell us!

The Intern Files: Put a Little Om in Your Heart

The holiday season brings with it joy, laughter, a few creeping pounds, family time, and yep...stress. November 4th, 2015 was National Stress Awareness Day which almost seems like it was in preparation for the turkey-and-Santa-filled drama that comes with the holiday territory. Being a college student, stress is no stranger to me. Sometimes I feel like stress is this guy who comes and checks into my mind, leaving his hat and coat at the door, staying indefinitely. And sometimes I think we like to glamorize our stress. It’s like we think that the more stressed we are, the more productive we are, which is actually quite the opposite of reality.

Sadly, whatever our season of life is, whatever the job or situation, we are most likely to be experiencing some type of stress. The unfortunate thing is that the human body doesn’t know the difference between our stresses. Whether we’re approaching impending doom or someone is mad at us, our body’s stress response is triggered no matter what the level or magnitude of stress. Fortunately, we also have a relaxation response trigger during which our bodies de-stress. 

The theme for 2015’s National Stress Awareness Day was “Employee Wellbeing as a Worthwhile Investment in Your Business”, so here are some ways to de-stress in your office (or wherever you find yourself):

1. Stretch out your body. 

Take a walk. Stand up. Do some office yoga. There’s a Huffington post article titled “5 Office Yoga Poses (That Won’t Freak Out Your Co-Workers)” with good poses to get your blood flowing. Obviously it’s not good to sit over your computer day in and day out like the Hunchback – stretch out your body.   

2. Stretch out your mind. 

Take a mental vacation. Breathe. Take some time to meditate. Look at pictures reflecting happy moments in your life. Going back to those memories and taking a few moments to quietly reminisce will help you switch out of functioning in the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight) and start functioning in the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation). 

3. Treat yo’ self. 

Eating (in moderation!) is really good for rejuvenation. Stress eating doesn’t have to be all bad. Eat a banana or potato (rich in potassium) to regulate your high-stress blood pressure – it will help with energy and recovery. Eating something sweet helps soothe the production of stress hormones; keep a bowl of Hershey’s kisses or peppermints on your desk to avoid binge eating while still reaping the benefits of the h-a-p-p-y feelings. “The connection between the gut and brain is huge and lots of interesting data supports the idea that the gut is a major mediator of the stress response,” says Dr. Drew Ramsey in a Huffington Post article. “Stress is a brain and immune system mediated phenomena, and your gut is the largest organ in your immune system.” 

4. Have a creative outlet (or two or three or ten). 

Doodle on your lunch napkin, listen to some music, keep crafty things like coloring books and knitting needles in your desk, and keep a journal and pen with you. There are studies that have been performed showing that an individual’s writing that is classified as emotional, valuable, and personal can help strengthen their immune system. A creative you is a healthy you – physically and mentally. 

Wherever you find yourself, and whatever stress you are experiencing, try one of these anti-stress triggers to calm down. They will help keep you from going postal on your co-workers or hiding under your desk and hyperventilating. Of course, there’s more de-stress techniques than the ones I’ve listed… how are you de-stressing? 

 

Peace,

The Intern

The Intern Files: What Happens When You Don’t Like PSL? *gasp*

So because we're really weird and love our Intern, we've decided to dedicate a few posts to asking (read making) her try out new, hip thangs because she's a new, hip gal.  Her musings and thoughts combine to form (dun, dun, DUN) The Intern Files. 

Hello, Kennedy the intern here, enjoying a great day of fall weather. I’m a college kid, so hours spent at Starubucks are not foreign to me. On a study session a couple of nights ago, I got to drink Starbucks’ newest drink, the Toasted Graham Latte (#TGL). I’m a lover of all things fall, but one thing I’ve never been able to get behind is the Pumpkin Spice Latte. I prefer my sweet drinks to be in cold, Frappuccino form. So when I walked into Starbs last night, I was surprised to see a poster for a brand new drink in the emerging #PSL season. 

Our Intern getting her #TGL on.

I must admit, my mind went straight to skepticism. I consulted my barista, Hannah (yes, we are on a first-name basis), and asked her opinion. “It’s really subtle,” she warned. “I’ll make one for you and then you can add a syrup to it if you want.” Ladies and gents, this latte needed no extra syrup.

What I found in that drink was the best tasting flavored latte I’d ever tasted.

Perfectly subtle, in-between the black, vital coffee we find ourselves drinking and the sweet, frivolous coffee drinks we enjoy with our friends. 

There’s an article on Eater.com that refers to the TGL as “graham crackers and milk all grown up”. I think perhaps in our world of extra-shots and fancy syrup combos, the simplistic nature of the TGL gets wrongly categorized as too simple—a drink for reminiscing about simpler days. I think that it could be intended for invoking nostalgic feelings, but not so we can sit around and wish for simpler days. Instead, we should use it as a time to simply have a pleasurable moment in the midst of our busy days. When we embrace the here and now, we get the best of both worlds: a simple pleasure that recognizes and appreciates both joyous childhood memories and the life we currently live. 

Thank you, Starbucks, for capturing a more unconventional part of fall and for teaching us a lesson about enjoying life. 

Happy fall, 

The Intern