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When you’re stressed out, it’s hard to decide what to eat for dinner, let alone get work done. How can you produce ideas when you’re feeling this way? First, take a breath and relax. Trying to force yourself to be creative will only lead to more frustration. Instead of thinking, “I must be creative right now,” tell yourself, “I’m going to play around with some ideas.” Then do an activity that will let your mind wander. Going for a walk or napping, for example, naturally loosens up your brain, which can lead to new insights. If you still feel stuck, give yourself more material to work with: Read about the topic you’re tackling, take a field trip to observe other people’s solutions to similar problems, or talk to experts. Above all else, give yourself time. You’ll have a much better chance of success when you let creative thoughts percolate.

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