Everyone wants to be more creative. No matter what for, whether it’s your job that requires it or you just think being creative makes you a better person, creativity is an issue that’s been discussed quite a lot in the past century. The more humanity thrives by technological advance, the more we feel the need to contribute intellectually.
The content around us has expanded and diversified so much that it can sometimes be overwhelming. Sometimes the only thought that comes to mind is “What could I possibly do, say or make something in any way relevant without it being a copy of things someone has already done?”
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If you are struggling with being creative, there are several ways to get your mind going without further abusing it with such thoughts.
1. Think about it really hard, and then don’t think about it at all
After deciding what you want to do, what you want to create, think about it really hard. Explore all the options you have, even the ones that might seem silly. After doing so, take a break, a REAL break. Stop thinking about the task, find something else to do.
You can either do something relaxing, or just find a chore, work to keep you occupied. It really doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you keep your mind off everything you were thinking about earlier.
When you resume your creative task, you will notice that your brain has ordered all the options very nicely, and you can see them clearly, without repeating the latest three you thought about 20 times in a row.
Scientists suggest that sometimes a period of unconscious thought is needed for better decision making. Aside from ordering your thoughts, allowing yourself to think about other things also takes away part of the urgency of the situation, relieving you of stress for the time being. Even though most our resumes say we are able to work under stress, we all know that stress is not exactly an optimal condition to be working in.
2. Improve your mood
Studies show that people are more creative when they are in a good mood. Researcher Ruby Nadler published a study in Psychological Science saying “If you have a project where you want to think innovatively, or you have a problem to carefully consider, being in a positive mood can help you do that”.
There are quite a few ways to boost your mood, but they all depend on the individual.
- Listening to music has been known to help increase morale by invoking a good feeling.
- Watching a funny video, reading a comic strip or engaging in activity that induces laughter can be a great way to boost your mood.
- Consumption of spicy food or exercise increases the secretion of endorphins in your brain, which are hormones known for their ability of making you feel good. For those of you who are chocolate lovers, scientists classify this food as a psychoactive food for its ability to trigger the release of endorphins in your brain.
3. Play video games
I probably use this as an excuse more often than necessary but nevertheless, studies show that playing computer games can improve awareness and problem solving skills. Puzzle games keep your mind sharp, action games boost your reaction time, your hand to eye coordination, and roleplaying games are proven to directly boost creativity.
4. Don’t doubt yourself
Doubting yourself will only produce stress and eventually end up caging your mind with what most call a “creative block”. Don’t judge your ideas right as they come to you. Write everything down.
As mentioned earlier, it’s best if you explore all possibilities and don’t eliminate any candidates in the incipient stages of creating something. Later on, you might form a great idea out of two that might have seemed rather silly at the beginning.
Talk to someone you trust and ask for feedback. Having a nice conversation and socializing will not only better your mood, but it will take some of the pressure off. Ask your friends for ideas; ask them what thhey think about your ideas. Be open to humor and wit as they are the best way to lose tension.
5. Set up an adequate work space
- Color therapy (a.k.a chromotherapy)
Let the sun shine in. A well lit room is a known cure for depression; it keeps your spirit up and guards against cognitive decline.
Surround yourself with colors that give you positive feelings and fill you with energy. These might vary from individual to individual. Studies show that colors have a strong impact on a person’s mood, thus boosting or lowering creativity. Learn more about the ways in which colors affect your creativity (backed by science) in one of our previous articles.
Usage of color psychology as therapy (under the name of chromotherapy) is dated back to ancient cultures such as that of Ancient Egypt. Red is known as a way to stimulate the body and increase circulation. Yellow was thought to stimulate the nerves and purify the body.
Perceptions of color are somewhat subjective, but there are a few colors that have universal meaning. The red area of the color spectrum is known as warm colors (red, orange, yellow) and invoke emotions ranging from warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility, depending on each individual. Colors such as green, blue and purple can trigger feelings of calmness as well as sadness.
There is a fair amount of research looking into the meaning of colors and their interpretations, but in the end it all comes to you, what makes you feel at ease, what helps you focus, what relaxes you.
Personally, I love having a lot of green around me as I see it as a symbol of life and nature. It’s my “positive thinking” color. Red is the color that encourages me to be active and get things done as it helps me visualize the blood pumping through my entire body. What does it make you think of?
- Sound therapy
According to some recent studies, a certain level of noise is required for your mind to be at its full creative capacity. Researchers say that a sound level of about 70 decibels enhances your brain’s performance because the background noise actually helps you focus. Having a TV running in the background or some soft music is something worth trying.
These are some of the things that keep me creative (most of them were used while writing this article; the irony of hitting a creative block while writing an article about creativity was not lost on me). Out of a huge amount of friendly advice I got during my existence in this world, only a handful are things that I can use and actually work. Hopefully these will work for you as well as they have for me.
Feel free to post opinions and comments in the section below to let me know what you think and add anything I may have missed.