15 Fun Ways To Get The Creative Juices Flowing

unnamedIllustrated by Mary Galloway.
By Shana Lebowitz
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We already know being creative can make us happier and healthier. But, while we may think of creativity in terms of penning or painting a masterpiece, experts say it can really mean anything from trying a new recipe to submitting an original idea during a meeting. Here we’ve got incredible ways to fire up that creative spark, from writing by hand to visiting a foreign country. Try one today!
10 Minutes Or Less
Listen To Music
Jamming out stimulates the part of our brain that controls motor actions, emotions, and creativity. Classical music might give us an extra boost: According to “The Mozart Effect,” listening to Mozart’s work can increase creativity, concentration, and other cognitive functions. It’s not clear if this effect actually exists, but a little classical music definitely can’t hurt!
Write By Hand
Drs. Carrie and Alton Barron, authors of The Creativity Cure, advise us to skip the Microsoft Word doc and pick up a pen instead. Sometimes the whole experience of writing by hand — the ink on our fingers, the smell of a fresh notebook — is all it takes to get our creative juices flowing.
Get Someone Else’s Opinion
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A friend might mention something that sparks a whole new stream of thought. The more ideas and perspectives, the better.
Think About Something Far Away
Research suggests our ability to solve problems improves when we think about events far off in the past or future or in another location. So, picture New Year’s Eve 2022 or dining at a café in Paris and let the imagination go!
Laugh A Little
Haha, get a load of this! A positive mood can facilitate creativity because it boosts activity in the prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex (areas of the brain associated with complex cognition, decision-making, and emotion). And, even if we’re not feeling cheery, letting out a hearty chuckle can actually trigger a positive mood — so get silly to get creative.
unnamed-1Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
30 Minutes Or Less
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Spend Time Outside
Remember the thrill of being a kid running through the playground, making up games and adventures? Bring that feeling back simply by getting a dose of green. Being in natural settings is sort of like playtime for adults: It taps into all five senses, energizes the bod, and, most importantly, stimulates the imagination.
Get Social
When we spend time with people we trust, we tend to have deeper conversations. The Barrons believe these chats often lead to creative thinking because we’re really able to be ourselves and talk about our passions.
Exercise
According to the Barrons, when we’re physically active, the body loosens up and our mind is a little freer. So it’s easier to come up with solutions to problems and think of new ideas. Plus, one recent study found regular exercisers performed better on creative tasks than their less active peers did.
Play Video Games
Here’s one excuse to sit in front of the computer all day: Video games that energize players and encourage a positive mood (Wii Tennis, not Mortal Combat) can also promote creativity by boosting our problem-solving skills.
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Get Some Sleep
If you’re trying to solve a problem and can’t, go to bed — you might find a better solution in the morning. Sleep restructures new memory representations, meaning we think about experiences in new ways. At the very least, take a power nap, which stimulates right brain activity (the part of the brain responsible for creativity).
unnamed-2Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Long-Term
Don’t Expect Perfection
It’s okay if that painting doesn’t make it to the MOMA. Putting pressure on ourselves to produce something outstanding can actually make it harder to create anything at all. “A lot of people sort of secretly feel, ‘I’m not creative,’ but everyone is creative to a certain degree,” says Carrie Barron. Just try your best and see what happens.
Visit A Foreign Country In one study, students who had studied abroad performed better than other students on measures of creative thinking. Psychologists say multicultural experiences facilitate the complex cognitive processes behind innovative thinking. Que fantastico!
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Make A Creativity Room
Designate a physical space for creativity in the house and include objects related to hobbies, mementos from favorite memories, and vision boards featuring possible projects for the future. Not enough space? Try a “creativity corner” in a single room. That way, says Greatist Expert Dr. Mark Banschick, the brain will get into the habit of being creative every time we’re in that area.
Sit In A Coffee Shop In one study, people were most creative with a moderate level of noise in the background. The noise around us is slightly distracting, so it encourages us to think a little harder and more imaginatively. (Of course, some people might need quieter or louder noise to produce their best work.)
Spend Time Alone
We did suggest that hanging with friends can boost creativity, but sometimes a little peace and quiet is necessary. Hole up with some headphones, get in touch with your own thoughts, and focus on the task at hand. Or, try talking to yourself — whatever works.
Find more ways to be creative over at Greatist!
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