8.05.2014

Tidbits: Tapping Into Your Creative Side

I spend a good chunk of my day focusing on letting the creativity inside of me bubble up and out into the world. I really, truly enjoy it. There's nothing quite like gathering up all that pent-up energy inside and making something beautiful out of it (like a moodboard!). There are some people out there who thrive under pressure, people who actually seek out competition, and still others who depend on routine. But the people that I like to be around - the ones I identify with the most - are the creative types that are spontaneous, down to share and relate their experiences, as well as being eager and able to have new adventures.

If you're a right-brainer (note: before you jump all over me, I know this is not a real thing; I'm describing a personality more than anything else) like myself and many hippies here, you're always down for tips that will help to expand that creativity. So,when I stumbled onto a few articles about the topic, I found it not only incredibly interesting, but also kind of exciting (#nerd). Detailing out lovely little ways that you can flex your mind muscles to try and get the most out of your brain, I was inspired to do a little more research to find out how you can start being more creative in your day-to-day life, which can help you be happier, more productive at work, more intuitive when it comes to crisis management, and a better problem-solver.


So, briefly, here are a few things you should know about creativity the next time you're trying your best to think outside the box:

1. Your brain is more creative when you're sleepy. When you're being analytical in your problem solving, you want to be focused and awake. The opposite is actually true when it comes to being creative - your best insights will come from letting your mind freely wander and walk down those tangents that you otherwise would ignore. While the brain struggles to filter out distractions because it's tired, it wanders and explores random thoughts making connections we otherwise wouldn't during busier times, like in the shower after a long day at work.

2. Subject yourself to some coffee shop ambient noise. You may think that deep concentration might be better for brainstorming and being creative, but when you've got a moderate level of noise in your environment, you're able to come up with more abstract ideas that you wouldn't otherwise think of. So put on some light music, turn the TV on low, or actually sit in that coffee shop for once instead of just grabbing a cup to go. But be warned - too loud and you can't concentrate, too low and you risk being too focused, but right smack dab in the middle is a sweet spot for those creative juices to flow.

3. Keep that temperature cued up to 76 to 78 degrees. Studies have shown clearly that employees who spend too much of their physical energy focusing on keeping their body warm make more mistakes than those who work and spend time in a higher temperature room. It's another situation to be wary of, however; Make it too hot in the room and that productivity and creativity goes straight out the window again. Keeping the room and body temperature in a lovely window of right around 77 degrees ensures that all your body's energy is all going into that creative process.

4. Turn the lights down, get a little moody, and allow yourself time to decompress. When you're working on a project that's requires full attention and focused thinking, turn the lights up for raised concentration. But if you want to get a little dirty with it and start brainstorming ideas rather than focusing on a task, dimmed lighting helps you to feel free from daily constraints. Hell, it's even encouraged to take a nap - by sleeping, you allow your brain to essentially shut off for a brief moment, which in turn helps your short-term memory to improve, learn more efficiently, and properly store emotional and physical memories from the day. Any time that you set aside, make sure that you allow for yourself to decompress beforehand - trying to be creative while you're anxious and stressed out is asking for a failure.

5. Give yourself a space to be creative in, and keep a notepad with you at all times. It doesn't seem like something that would be important, right? Cleanliness is close to godliness, or whatever that ridiculous saying is. I'll always remember walking into my father's office for the first time and seeing stacks upon stacks of papers on the floor - "organized chaos" is what he called it. If you don't give yourself a space that's free from anxiety and obsession, you're never going to allow your mind to be truly creative. By having a messy play space to work in, you allow yourself the leniency for the mind to think abstractly, outside of it's paranoia / obsessive box. The other side of that is remembering everything you come up with in these moments where you let go - which is where the notepads come in. 

6. Try overwhelming yourself with something that seems like an impossible task. It may seem counterintuitive, but the most creative ideas can come out of a situation that you think is hopeless. By overstimulating the brain with a big task, you're more likely to work to abstractly think your way around the situation. It allows for the expansion of the mind, while producing a whole slew of solutions to other problems. It takes a million bad ideas to finally find one good one, yes? It also increases your brain's capacity in the long run. You're welcome.

There are, of course, other things you can do - like meditation, exercise, or just simply distracting yourself from the task at hand. All of these things will nurture creativity and help to decrease stress levels in the brain. Sometimes I think the easiest thing to do is just disengage and try to find inspiration in doing a new task. We tend to fixate on solutions that we know won't work, and in the midst of obsessing over that fixation, we tend to ignore the open window next to the closed door. The real trick, though, is being able to capture creativity when it strikes, and setting the mood for it to do so.

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