8 Ways to Boost Your Creativity

Feeling uninspired? Try these tipsóyou may be surprised by how many fresh ideas start percolating!

1. Get Moving

Believe it or not, one of the most overlooked ways to unleash your creative inner genius is to become more physically active, says San Francisco-based Laura Putnam, CEO of Motion Infusion, a consulting firm and the author of Workplace Wellness that Works: 10 Steps to Infuse Well-Being & Vitality into Any Organization. (Wiley, 2015).

"Physical activity is actually one of the best things we can do for our brains when it comes to boosting creative capacity," Putnam says. "Movement helps to increase the connections, or synapses, between brain cells and it brings more blood to the brain, which means more oxygen for the brain cells." She advises any type of cardiovascular exercise such as running, walking or biking. In addition, "Yoga and Pilates can help to relax the brain, which then opens up the mind to more creativity."

2. Find a New Hobby

This could be anything from learning a new language to taking up a musical instrument. "The brain has an amazing capacity to rewire and rebuild itself," Putnam says. "This is called neuroplasticity, and you can increase neuroplasticity by doing any type of activity that is novel and challenging. Itís called the novelty effect."

3. Switch Hands

Brush your teeth and comb your hair with the hand you donít normally use. This unusual tip is from Matthew Lorber, MD, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "This exercises a different part of the brain and gets you thinking in a different way," he says. "You could also try writing in a different way, going from the bottom of the page up. Itís all about doing anything that changes your normal routine."

4. Read a Novel

Reading fiction is good for boosting creativity because it encourages you to exercise your imagination, Lorber explains.

5. Manipulate Your Environment

Keep the spaces you occupy interesting and changing. "If the objects on your desk, the pictures on your wall, and the friends in your social circle never change, your creativity is curtailed," observes Vista, CA-based Robert Epstein, author of The Big Book of Creativity Games: Quick, Fun Activities for Jumpstarting Innovation (McGraw Hill, 2000). Epstein is a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, and the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today. But "If you are deliberate about changing your physical and social environment, you will soon find yourself thinking in new ways."

6. Capture Ideas

Paying attention to new ideas and preserving them is crucial, says Epstein. "People whom we are likely to identify as creative, like artists, composers, or writers, are usually great at this. When a new idea pops into their heads, they go to great lengths to preserve the idea, no matter what it takes." If you don't have a mobile recording device handy, scribble your idea on a piece of paper. Donít have any paper nearby? Writing on a napkin with lipstick can work. Remember: If you donít record a new idea, it may disappear forever.

7. Record Your Dreams

If you have a dream, be disciplined enough to record its contents before it disappears from consciousness. Dreams are a wonderful source of new ideas, Epstein notes, and "New ideas, even the ones that seem crazy, sometimes turn out to be valuable, and if you donít record new ideas, they tend to disappear and not return again."

8. Eat a Healthy Diet

Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids (fatty fish like salmon are a prime example), along with vitamins C and E, are believed to boost brain activity, Lorber says.

Choose foods that satisfy rather than gratify so that youíll have long-lasting energy. Try proteins such as nuts, seeds, and legumes; fats like avocados, walnuts, and olive oil, and healthy carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. "These foods, especially in combination, give you energy that lasts," notes Putnam. "And this energy keeps your thinking sharp."

Laura Putnam reviewed this article.

Sources

Epstein, Robert. Email interview July 6, 2015.

Putnam, Laura. Email interview July 6, 2015.

Matthew Lorber, MD. Phone interview July 14, 2015.