From the time we were born, we were told to respect the status quo. By being too compliant with what the world expects from us, we often tend to forget how important it is to be authentic and have a unique voice.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against following rules. In fact, we need them to preserve sanity in this world.
However, an individual also needs to fulfill an obligation to himself. That obligation is to follow his purpose and passion. If there is one thing that a person needs to cultivate for the rest of his life, that is creativity.
Creativity is the process of actualizing original ideas. It’s thinking outside the box and coming up with unique solutions that others would not be able to think of. Since creativity can be cultivated over time with the right conditions, everyone has the chance at being creative.
According to Psychology Today, creativity is nurtured by freedom. On the other hand, it is prevented when a person is constantly monitored, judged, and evaluated.
In real life, a lot of problems rarely require specific answers to be corrected. If one is to come up with the best solution, he needs to try different routes as well as experience trial and error.
This article will discuss 9 ways to increase creativity.
How to Increase Your Creativity
1. Sleep More
Does it really help to “sleep on a problem”? There is much truth to this common phrase than one might think.
Based on a 2013 study on sleep by Dr. Nedergaard and her colleagues at the University of Rochester, it has been discovered that sleep helps eliminate waste products from the brain. These toxic substances are what cause us to feel irritable and more likely to commit mistakes when we’re sleep deprived.
Aside from getting our minds to rest, another aspect of sleep that unlocks creativity is the process of dreaming. Active neural connections are established in dreaming and this helps in creative problem-solving.
2. Start Meditating
Meditation is a calm experience in which one develops a heightened level of awareness. As you constantly meditate, you develop focus and gain more clarity – all of which are normally impossible when you’re actively engaging in day-to-day activities.
Your brain undergoes structural changes with regular meditation. What happens is that the grey matter increases in the hippocampus, an area in your brain which is responsible for increased attention and awareness.
If you want to get started with meditation, do it before the day starts – first thing in the morning. Begin with at least 5 minutes and gradually increase over time until you get better!
3. Exercise Regularly
Our common notion of exercise is that it allows us to lose weight and build strength. True, but exercise has far greater benefits than keeping us in good shape.
Based on a study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, it has been shown that regular physical exercise facilitates creative thinking. If you want to be more creative through physical activity, you need to do it deliberately.
When you run out of ideas while working on your desk, stand up and go for a walk. Do some stretching and jogging in place.
4. Spend time in nature
It’s no secret that going for a hike, camping in the woods, or any activity spent in nature enables us to destress from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
This tendency to truly relax and set aside our worries drastically lowers our attention fatigue and improves our mood. When this happens, our creativity increases. The explanation behind this is that the human brain is not designed to withstand continuous stress.
If you want to experience a great sense of mental relief, spend more time outdoors! It’s restorative and therapeutic.
5. Expand your horizons
We often stay in our comfort zone because it doesn’t take a lot of work and feels much more comfortable. However, we should remember that real transformation can only happen when we push beyond our boundaries.
Being stuck in repetitive routines can put your mind in an idle state. Break barriers by expanding your horizons! Try doing things differently like exploring other fields of knowledge, going vegetarian for a week, and picking up a new sport.
Challenging your limitations opens your mind thereby increasing your capacity to think creatively.
6. Listen to creative music
Would you believe that music can unleash your creativity? Aside from the fact that music boosts your mood and focus, it activates all four lobes of your brain. This phenomenon has stimulating effects on your memory and emotions.
Be keen in choosing the music you play while you work. Steer clear of loud music that has lyrics. Instead, pick music that incorporates nature sounds like chirping birds or flowing water. Classical tunes by Mozart and Beethoven also make a great option.
7. Do something fun that you love
How wonderful it is to do something without the pressure of expectations. When you are having fun with what you do, the neural connections in your brain increase. Having that creative freedom allows you to achieve the best outcomes.
When you’re fully engaged in something that you love, thought limitations cease to occur. This opens your creative side and you come up with diversified ideas.
Why not re-experience your childhood hobbies or try something you’ve always wanted? Things you could do include gardening, playing the piano, sculpting, painting, and cooking.
Do you love taking a shower? Something happens in the shower that triggers the flow of creative juices. Alice Flaherty, a neuroscientist who does research on creativity, mentions that the increase of dopamine levels in the brain helps people be more creative.
When you shower, you tend to be in a relaxed state. Your thoughts tend to drift off since you’re not focused on a problem. This relaxation influences dopamine release.
Another strategy that involves water which increases creativity is keeping yourself well hydrated. Drinking water provides your brain with the fuel it needs to think clearly and focus better. Don’t substitute coffee, and energy drinks for water just because they’re fluids.
9. Get enough rest
It pays to detach yourself from work-related matters every now and then. The best ideas flow when you’re not actively thinking of solutions to a problem.
Make rest intentional. Get into the habit of unplugging and simply allowing your mind to drift off. Have a 20-minute afternoon nap after a morning of intense concentration.
If you are unable to take a nap, go far from your work desk and do something else that’s relaxing like reading an inspirational book or watching images of nature.
We all have a treasure chest of creative ideas just waiting to be unleashed. While a lot of people think that creativity is an inborn trait, this is rarely the case.
You can be as creative as you want to be by tapping into certain strategies and exposing yourself to situations that broaden your thinking. Remove yourself from constant pressure. Let your mind drift off. Only then will you realize how much capable you are.