Creativity Boosting Techniques: Working With Your Brain

We all know how frustrating it can be when you are trying to create, and nothing seems to be going right. You type up a couple of paragraphs and delete all of them. You re-start your painting eight times in the same sitting. You can’t seem to get any of those fantastic ideas you used to get at work. We also know how important creativity is for our mental health, brain, and physical state. Given all of this, you are probably super motivated to look for some creativity-boosting techniques. Thankfully, this article will review five strategies that work with your brain to boost your creativity effectively. 

  • Just breathe 
  • You may not expect the most effortless thing you do every day to be significant, but science has proven that you may want to pay more attention to your breathing. Controlled breathing enhances your ability to focus on the task at hand by increasing your awareness— whether it is at work, a problem, or art (3). This shift in awareness gives you a new perspective when approaching the same task, which boosts your creativity significantly (3). How does this work in the brain? Controlling your breathing can put your brain in a peaceful state by adjusting your neural circuit, connecting your breath pace to your state of mind (2). Your breath pace can change this neural circuit; namely, fast breathing increases alertness, whereas slow controlled breathing enhances calmness (2). Therefore, slow breathing can allow for deep focus and enhanced creativity (2). Each breath you take holds more power than you may realize!

  • Exercise 
  • Exercise has endless benefits— but you should add creativity to the list! A neuroscience study recently found that those who exercise regularly perform better on creativity tests than others (4). How does this association between exercise and creativity exist? The study researchers mentioned that regular exercise might improve the two main components of creative thinking (4). First, divergent thinking includes thinking of multiple solutions for one problem, and second, convergent thinking— one solution for one issue (4). Additionally, exercise helps ensure proper brain function by increasing the connections between the nerve cells in your brain, increasing your ability to be creative and learn new information (4). 

  • Take a brain break 
  • Taking regular breaks from long periods of focus fosters more creativity and productivity upon return (1). Research shows that even taking five minutes off the task at hand improves your brain function, mental clarity, and motivation (1). However, if you want to achieve the highest levels of creativity, try taking extended breaks (1). Another study suggested that four days of disconnection from a specific task, whether work or art, increased the participants’ creativity by over fifty percent (1). Brain imaging supports the study’s results by showing that when participants sat down and “did nothing,” the number of brain waves associated with creative ideas increased (1). 

  • Take pen to paper and just write 
  • A certain magic happens when you take a pen and begin to write on a piece of paper. Although a simple act, you encourage a state of calmness and creativity as you disassociate with everything around you (5). Additionally, handwriting has many benefits for your brain, which fosters creativity (5). First, like meditation, writing increases your neural activity in various parts of your brain (5). Second, handwriting influences the way we think (5). For example, a study found that the sequential hand movements you perform while writing activate the brain regions that regulate our thinking, healing and memory functions (5). Last, writing by hand allows us to slow down and be in the moment (5). The act of writing will blur out the noisy world around you and potentially enable new creative insights to flourish in that state of calm (5). 

  • Reward yourself 
  • What does a reward mean for you? Whether it is a piece of your favourite sweet indulgence, a spa day, or a Netflix episode, research finds that by rewarding yourself after a period of creativity, you can subconsciously increase your motivation to be creative later on (6)! This creativity boosting technique exists because of your brain, specifically, the neurotransmitter dopamine that it produces (7). For instance, when you look forward to something and achieve it, your brain produces dopamine, making you feel great, which subconsciously increases your motivation to continue doing it (7). 


    References 

    1) Fuller, K. (2020, September 25). Your Creativity Needs Breathing Room: Extended Time Off is the Most Underrated Productivity Hack. Retrieved from https://medium.com/illumination/your-creativity-needs-breathing-room-extended-time-off-is-the-most-underrated-productivity-hack-1dca27c2dc14

    2) DiSalvo, D. (2017, November 29). How Breathing Calms Your Brain, And Other Science-Based Benefits Of Controlled Breathing. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2017/11/29/how-breathing-calms-your-brain-and-other-science-based-benefits-of-controlled-breathing/?sh=25f29d762221

    3) Enhancing Creativity, Problem Solving and Decision Making with the Breathing Meditation. (2015, October 01). Retrieved from http://franticworld.com/enhancing-creativity-problem-solving-and-decision-making-with-the-breathing-meditation/

    4) Balance, B. (n.d.). Study: Exercise Boosts Creativity. Retrieved from https://www.brainbalancecenters.com/blog/exercise-boosts-creativity

    5) Olson, N. (2020, September 21). Three Ways That Handwriting With A Pen Positively Affects Your Brain. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/nancyolson/2016/05/15/three-ways-that-writing-with-a-pen-positively-affects-your-brain/?sh=d771d1f57055

    6) Cherry, K. (n.d.). Boost Your Creativity With These 10 Psychological Tricks. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/the-most-unusual-psychological-tricks-to-boost-your-creativity-4022442

    7) Thibodeaux, W. (2019, August 26). Neuroscience Says This is the Most Powerful Way to Reward Yourself. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/wanda-thibodeaux/neuroscience-says-this-is-most-powerful-way-to-reward-yourself.html

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