3 WAYS TO KEEP YOURSELF CREATIVEOh, that last section, The Land of Imagination: Part I, made you think I was going to let you off easy, didn’t it? No way! There’s more to this whole creativity thing than thought exercises and experiencing culture. More important than either of those is your physical well-being. After all, your brain is an organ and, as such, is a part of your larger body.
1. Take Care of Your BodyHow you treat your body is how you treat your brain. And no brain or body can function without plenty of sleep. Not only is sleep a time for your dreams to run wild, but it’s also when your body recovers from the day and heals all the little stresses that built up in your body. Sleep deprivation causes a decrease in daytime alertness by as much as 32 percent,. It also affects how much information you can process and eliminates your brain’s capacity to hold memories. All of these things add up to a brain that can’t think creatively. There are no ‘super foods’ that help you get creative, despite what your college roommate might have to say about his “special brownies.” A diet high in salt, sugar, and caffeine can greatly impede your cognitive ability to think creatively. However, a healthy lifestyle and proper diet allows for better blood flow to your brain, supplying more oxygen and fuel to help you get creative. While we are having this very holistic conversation about how taking care of your body positively impacts the health of your brain, I should bring up one very simple yet effective exercise that works like a steroid on your “creativity muscle”: walking. A recent study by Stanford University, links walking to increased cognitive ability and creativity. Participants of the study reported a substantial increase in creativity after walking outside and a moderate increase after walking on a treadmill or rolling in a wheelchair. Conversely, remaining completely stationary had a negative impact on participant’s creativity. Fascinatingly, after a walk outside participants noted that they remained in a creative mindset for hours afterwards. This study only vindicates what companies like Google have claimed for years , requesting that their employees go for a walk on campus every 2 hours to promote creative thinking.
2. Remember That Environment MattersNumerous studies,  show that your environment can influence behavior and thought. Being in nature has been shown to light up creative centers in the brain. Organic and naturally inspired workspaces have been shown to provoke and stimulate creativity. Interestingly enough, this effect increases in the presence, or perceived presence, of water. Merely having a picture of water in the room can increase creativity. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has been broken down and translated into Color Psychology. Colors affect our moods. Reds promote lust and alertness; yellow promotes hunger; blues and greens – perhaps because they are colors commonly found in nature – promote calmness and creativity. Beyond colors, the shape of your environment can influence those creative juices. Studies show that curved and circular surfaces subconsciously promote creativity. Meanwhile, flat surfaces and hard edges are relatively rare in nature and, therefore, do not have the same effect.
3. Detach, Unplug, and Get BoredI know I am guilty of it; working on a project when suddenly I wonder “Has anyone seen my status on Facebook today?” So, I stop what I’m doing, go online, and an hour later I wonder “What the heck got me here and why did I stopped working?” Distraction, in its many forms, can be the death of creativity. Without the ability to sit, think, and work, creative potential is monumentally hindered. Focus is a key component of creativity. While it’s a fantastic tool, to an undisciplined mind (like mine!) the Internet can prove a great source of distraction, which can hinder creativity. When trying to get creative, it might be best to keep yourself away from the Internet or other distractions. Now, what follows may seem contradictory, but hear me out: You have to make sure that you allow your brain to wander. “WHAT?” the frustrated reader shouts as they punch their screen. “THAT MAKES NO SENSE! YOU JUST TOLD ME TO FOCUS!” … You didn’t hear me out, oh frustrated reader. And now you can’t read, because you punched your screen. It’s a vicious cycle. You see, focus is indeed important for creativity because it allows you to be free from distraction so that you may follow your inspiration wherever it might take you. If you are looking for a great idea, I’d recommend getting away from your computer and going for a long walk outside. Once your brain is sufficiently unplugged and becomes a little bored,, you will find that great ideas will begin to pop up like bursts of light in the night sky. Read The Land of Imagination: Part I here.