Remaining creative throughout your life clearly offers mind health benefits. Not only can it minimize anxiety, depression, and cognitive problems, it can also enhance a person’s enjoyment of everyday experiences.
In order to point your mind in a more creative direction, consider some of the following strategies:
1. Notice the world around you. You don’t need to be a writer, artist, or inventor to focus your attention on everyday experiences that will feed your mind. Meditating and other mindfulness exercises can increase your ability to pay attention to the moment rather than fretting about the future or the past. Jot down some of your observations; many writers keep notebooks that provide ideas for future stories.
2. Schedule creative time. Many people find that their creative juices flow in the early morning hours when their minds are rested after a good night’s sleep. That also may be a time when you are less likely to be interrupted by calls, texts, or unexpected drop-ins. Others like to work late at night or in the afternoon. Take note of the time of day that works best for you and reserve it in your schedule.
3. Explore new experiences. Research has shown that exposing yourself to new sensations and experiences is associated with greater creative output. People who are intellectually curious expose themselves to opportunities that nurture novel ideas and solutions.
4. Continue to learn. Most innovation requires a wide knowledge base. Make an effort to learn something new each day, not only in your area of creativity but in other areas as well.
5. Take a walk. Great discoveries can come when you least expect them — even while performing mundane tasks. A recent study showed that research volunteers demonstrated greater creativity while walking compared to sitting. The heightened creativity may come from observing scenery, a change in mental tasks, or the brain benefits of physical activity, including more oxygen and nutrients to brain cells.
6. Optimize your environment. Note the right level of background noise that helps you focus your attention. Some people are distracted by the slightest sound, while others are more comfortable with background traffic sounds or music. Make sure that the lighting is right so you can see what you are working on.
7. Pace yourself, but persist. Give yourself time to create. Don’t expect to write a new opera or paint a landscape in one sitting. New ideas need time to incubate before they come together in original ways. Most breakthroughs in art and science have only occurred after numerous attempts to solve a problem have failed. Often those failures provide insights into how to solve the problem and eventually arrive at a novel result.
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