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6 scientifically proven ways to boost creativity

Posted at 8:42 AM, Jul 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-27 14:42:18-04

Ever notice how some days you’re brimming with ideas, while others you’re staring at a blank canvas or computer screen and wondering how you ever found inspiration in the first place? Unfortunately, a creative block can happen to the best of us, and it can strike at any time. Feeling unmotivated and uninspired can be a frustrating feeling, but just because you’re feeling stuck in the moment doesn’t mean you’re doomed to unoriginality forever.

When these debilitating moments strike, you can sit and stare aimlessly at the computer until your eyes hurt, or you can figure out a way to kickstart your mind and get those creative juices flowing. If you find yourself at a loss for good ideas, or just need an extra boost of creativity in your life, try the following six strategies that have been proven to help stimulate your thinking.

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Take a walk
Studies have found that walking, whether indoors or outdoors, increases creative thinking in the moment as well as the moments after. Even mild exercise can have a positive effect on cognition, so next time you feel yourself in a rut, consider taking even a brief stroll.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, allowing your mind to wander actually boosts your creativity, and it can even help your working memory. Next time you’re feeling stuck, you may be better off letting yourself space out than trying to force yourself to focus, as studies have found that daydreaming does enhance your creative problem solving skills rather than hinder you.

Drink a little
Whip out that glass of wine! Turns out, having a drink or two can help loosen your mind and spark creativity. Researchers have found that having a blood alcohol level of just under the legal limit of .08 helps you perform creative tasks better, likely because it allows your mind to wander to solutions you may have never considered before.

Play some music
Many studies have found that listening to any type of music that you like helps your creative thinking and improves cognitive functioning. It doesn’t have to be just Mozart; as long as you enjoy what’s playing, the song will put you in a positive mood and increase arousal, both factors in how you perform creatively.

Now you won’t have to feel so guilty about covering that work memo in smiley faces and flowers during a meeting. Doodling helps stimulate visual thinking, which helps bring you out of one brain mode and into another. It also frees up working memory space, allowing your mind to wander and access new ideas.

Take a power nap
Not only can a quick 20 minute nap refresh and restore you, but it can also help increase activity in the right side of the brain, which is generally associated with creative thinking and problem-solving tasks. As long as you slip into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, your nap can help boost your cognitive thinking, improve memory, and enhance your problem solving skills.

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