Like any skill, creativity can be cultivated and developed. Last week we suggested practices to prime your brain for creativity. The more input you have, the more opportunity your brain has to make connections and solve a problem or create something new.
In my own life, I found that whenever I wasn’t sure what to do next, I would go and learn a lot, read a lot, talk to experts. I don’t know how the human brain works but it’s almost magical: when you read enough or talk to enough experts, when you have enough inputs, new ideas start appearing.
– Andrew Ng, formerly of Google
When you need a creativity boost, there are proven ways to stimulate your brain. Here are 6 of them:
- Be in nature. Just 25 minutes in green space can calm your brain and allow creative energy to flow. Even looking out the window at nature can serve as a creative reset.
- Move! Exercise releases endorphins — the chemicals your body produces to relieve stress and pain. When you are less stressed, you are more open to possibilities. Whether or not you have time for a full workout, movement is always possible. Get out of your chair and take a walk around your office or do a few squats. Then stretch your arms up over your head, dive down into a forward fold and shake out the cobwebs before you roll back up.
- Relax. What are you doing when you get your best ideas? Showering? Jogging? Hiking? Probably not working! Your best ideas usually occur when you’re not wracking your brain trying to come up with the next great idea!
- Get your hands busy. Design firms often encourage employees to keep toys on their desks – colored blocks, Silly Putty, origami paper, magnets, etc. Shaping something with your hands (as opposed to typing or writing) can be just the creative jolt you need! When facilitating, we usually have play foam on the table for people to engage with.
- Reframe. Use language to give yourself permission to think differently. Rename your challenge. For example, instead of a difficult conversation have an “alignment conversation.” Ask questions to shift your perspective and see the situation from a different angle. For example, “what’s the worst that can happen” or “what would I do if I had unlimited resources?” Your words determine your world, so use them wisely and reframe frequently to see all the angles of whatever you are exploring.
- Attend to your space. Positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi suggests that your surroundings play a role in the creative process. Clear the clutter and create space that helps you feel inspired and energized.
Your creativity is an important skill for your growth, success, and problem-solving capabilities.