If you’ve ever said the words “I’m not a creative person,” this article is for you. Creativity is not something you either have or don’t have. It’s a muscle you build. We’re all highly creative as children. However, the pressures of adult life can wear away at our natural creativity.
The good news is that there are many things you can do to exercise your creative muscles and bring back some of that childlike joy of imaginative thinking.
Here are some of the ways you can reignite your creative spark.
1. Schedule Time to Do Nothing
If you’re constantly engaging in activities or paying attention to something, your mind will have no space for creativity. To allow for creativity, you need to give your mind a chance to wander.
Schedule regular periods of time for doing absolutely nothing. Put your phone away and close your laptop. We do this so seldom, so it will be hard at first.
Don’t expect miracles immediately. Try to pay attention to all your senses. Notice all the tiny details about the world around you and what’s happening in your body. If your mind wanders, let it.
The great Albert Einstein said that “the monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” Of course, most of us can’t live like that, but what you can do is build pockets of quiet solitude into your life.
It’s surprising how quickly your mind starts doing interesting things when it’s given free rein to go where it pleases.
2. Take a Walk
Most of us sit for incredibly long periods of the day and often in the same place. This is bad not only for our creativity but also for our health and happiness.
According to a study by researchers at Stanford University, going on even a short walk can boost your creative thinking. This is effective both during the walk and for a short while afterward.
So, if you have a particular task that requires some creative thinking or problem solving, go for a walk, even if it’s just around your neighborhood.
3. Spend Time in Nature
Walking is even more beneficial if you do it in nature. Regular forest therapy has an incredible range of physical and mental health benefits. Besides, the quiet of natural spaces and escaping from the overwhelming stimulation of cities and the workspace will do wonders to get your creative juices flowing.
It doesn’t have to be a full-on hike—a short walk in the park or even a solo picnic somewhere beautiful will have significant benefits for your creativity. It’s all part of slowing down and giving your mind the space to roam freely.
4. Work that Muscle
The best way to learn something is simply through repetition and practice. Even if you just want to build creativity to improve your problem-solving abilities, engaging in physically creative tasks is hugely beneficial.
You’ll reap the most benefits if you do something that makes use of the hands, particularly things like writing or drawing, which require you to carry out sequential strokes by hand.
However, if writing is not your jam, that’s fine, too.
Find something creative to do with your hands that you enjoy. It could be drawing, embroidery, crochet, pottery, or anything else—and you don’t have to be good at it. The aim is to get yourself in the habit of engaging in creative processes using your hands, as this can actually create new neural pathways in the brain. If you end up with some pretty crafts at the end, that’s a bonus.
5. Switch Up Your Surroundings
If you always work or spend time in the same space with the same pictures on the walls, this isn’t necessarily conducive to creative thinking.
According to Robert Epstein, a research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral and Research Technology, it’s important to change up your physical surroundings now and then to boost creativity.
You can do this by taking a walk, but it could also be as simple as rearranging your desk or switching up your décor every now and then. These small ‘nudges’ could be just what your creative mind needs to see things from a fresh perspective, dust off the cogs, and get moving.
6. Embrace Your Silly Side
The start of this article mentioned that children are naturally creative, but as adults, we often lose this curious way of looking at the world. Our busy lifestyles, stressful jobs, and day-to-day responsibilities take over, and we think that we no longer have the mental space for much else. But we do—we just need to nurture this side of ourselves.
Children have a remarkable ability to conjure worlds with nothing more than a few Lego pieces or chairs and blankets to make a fort. If you have kids in your life, embrace your childish side by joining them for these imaginative games. Take it seriously and give it your full attention—it won’t work if you’re thinking about work or other responsibilities and just joining half-heartedly.
If you don’t have kids in your life, you can still engage your imaginative side. For example, when you’re on the bus, try to think up interesting backstories for your fellow passengers and make them as outlandish and fantastical as possible.
If you like to draw or write, indulge your silly side for a change and let yourself create something funny and nonsensical. Making room for whimsy can help get those creative juices flowing and improve your lateral thinking abilities. Indulging in nonsense stories will help your mind get used to challenging established pathways through mental gymnastics.
Remember that creativity is not a talent. It’s a muscle that you can build, stretch, and strengthen. Boosting your creativity is about giving your mind the space to wander with complete freedom, about finding ways to see things from a fresh perspective, and about regular practice.
Not only will finding space for creativity boost your lateral thinking abilities. It will also improve your wellbeing and make life so much more fun!
About the Author: With a passion for writing, Jamie Benjamin loves to get creative on topics covering health and wellness, self-care, mindfulness, and fitness. For Jamie, self-care means going on a hike with a friend, reading a good book by John Irving, or having a huge slice of apple pie (with a scoop of ice cream).
Photo by SwapnIl Dwivedi on Unsplash
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.
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