Brain and Body

Use These 7 Neurohacks to Boost Your Creativity

January 12, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

A street artist draws pokemon in chalk
Photo credit: Chris Brown/flickr (CC by SA 2.0)

Unleash your inner Van Gogh.

Whether your thing is writing, painting, sculpting, composing music, whatever — sometimes those creative blocks seem like they’re going to last forever. Some people make art as a hobby or a side-job, but even the fields of business, science, and technology require workers to have the ability to creatively innovate in order to lead to breakthrough discoveries and inventions.

Luckily, there are some science-backed ways to boost creativity. Whenever you’re in a rut, try out some of these tips and your brain is sure to thank you after your masterpiece is done.

1. Surround yourself with blue

Tons of research has shown that color can affect our mood, and this can in turn affect how we think and create. While red is typically associated with danger, blue promotes feelings of peacefulness and calmness. One study showed that people who faced a red computer screen were better at detail-oriented tasks while those who faced a blue screen excelled more at the creative tasks.

Mark Beeman, an associate professor of psychology at Northwestern University who studies the neuroscience of creativity, told NPR that red makes us anxious while blue encourages us to relax and let the imagination roam free.

2. Let yourself daydream

Contrary to popular belief, daydreaming is far from a waste of time.

Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., Scientific Director of the Imagination Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, co-authored a paper called “Ode to Positive Constructive Daydreaming,” in which he found that a wandering mind can help out in the process of “creative incubation.” Daydreaming involves the same brain processes associated with imagination and creativity, so it’s no surprise that sometimes our greatest ideas come from out of the blue — no pun intended to the previous tip…

SEE ALSO: 10 Common Dreams and What They Really Mean

3. Spend time alone

“Me” time is important if you want to unleash your creativity. Kaufman told the Huffington Post that solitude can be key to producing good work — this could be why artists are often stereotyped as being loners.

"You need to get in touch with that inner monologue to be able to express it," he says. "It's hard to find that inner creative voice if you're ... not getting in touch with yourself and reflecting on yourself."

Giving your brain some time away from everyone else might help stimulate your creativity.

4. Connect the dots

Sometimes you don’t have to come up with something completely original. Letting your creativity flare could simply be a matter of connecting the dots — in other words, seeing things in a different way than everyone else.

One of the greatest innovators of our time, Steve Jobs, said it himself: "Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things."

5. Watch a funny video

Just like color, humor can enhance your mood, in turn boosting your creativity. According to Beeman, watching something funny “might not just relax your scope of interest, but actually broaden it further.”

SEE ALSO: How to Make People Laugh, According to Science

6. Take a shower

Showers are a great place for three things: getting clean, singing like Adele, and unleashing your best ideas.

Why? Research has shown that mindless tasks like showering and fishing can help our minds coax out our creative geniuses. It’s kind of like daydreaming, and it relaxes the prefrontal cortex, which contributes to a variety of complex behaviors like decision making and planning. Once this area of the brain is relaxed, it’s much easier for our creativity to flow.

Plus, showers are relaxing. The hot water and white noise in the background promote a sense of tranquility, allowing our brains to think deeply.

7. Get some sleep

Sleep is one of the best ways to replenish your brain and get yourself out of a creative block. If you’re trying to force an idea out of yourself, it’s probably not going to happen. During sleep, our brains consolidate our memories. This can help us reorganize our thoughts and generate new associations — perhaps leading to those “Aha!” moments.
Take it from Paul McCartney. One morning he woke up with a melody in his head, and it just happened to be the revolutionary song “Yesterday.”

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