Tired and Stressed may be good for your Art

Tired and Stressed may be good for your Art

I noticed in my twenties I taught much better when I was tired and stressed. I remember the first time I really noticed it.  I had been out most of the evening partying and the next day I had to do a teaching assessment for one of the early Train the Trainer workshop I attended.   Standing in front of a large audience I had to teach for twenty minutes for my assessment. My brain was foggy.  I shut down all distractions in my mind and focused solely on the task of teaching.  When I looked at the audience I looked just above thier heads so they would think I was talking to them. When I asked a question I focused solely on the person answering.

My listening and attention to them was heightened.  I was more emotionally sensitive. I was able to make huge creative jumps and deviate from my lesson plan to meet them in thier space, instead of shoehorning them into mine.

Horified I expected the worst critical analysis  of my performance.  Surely someone would notice my hangover, the way I spoke slower. In my mind my performance was worse. Yet to my surprise I got glowing outstanding feedback.  Best educational session out of the whole class.  My performance was better, because I was more sensitive to my students and more creative in my reactions to my students

Since then I have noticed on too many occasions to remember that I am much more creative in a stressed tired state.  My best teaching sessions are when I don’t follow my plan, but when I creatively follow my students needs, interests and responses. 

This morning I read this summary of some research that reinforces this to me. 

“A recent study by Mareike Wieth and Rose Zacks suggests that innovation and creativity are greatest when we are not at our best particularly in relation to our circadian rythymns.“

-  Cindi May

Quoted from an article titled:  

The Inspiration Paradox: Your Best Creative Time Is Not When You Think

“Morning people have more insights in the evening. Night owls have their breakthroughs in the morning.”

I am not sure how this effects my photography as I need to reflect on it more, but the impact of learning to let go of following strict lesson plans when things aren’t working was a lifelong lesson in educational success. 


The Lake District, United Kingdom.  Photograph and text copyright © Len Metcalf 2018

Artist | Writer | Photographer | Educator | Adventurer