7 Gratifying Ways to Stoke Your Creative Fire

Jessica McNatt

It’s Monday. You get to the office, flop your bag down on your desk, and wheel up to your computer to kick off the long work-week ahead. Then it hits…  

…an idea for your next piece of art, your next book, your next video, or even a new cocktail recipe. But you’re stuck in work mode for the next 5 days! And by the time you get to the weekend, when you can really indulge your new idea, it will have deflated like a sad, five-day-old balloon. 

The point of this story is not what the big idea was, just that you had one while unable to act on it. Instead, wouldn’t it be great if we could draw on our creativity as easy as pouring beer from a tap? While there isn’t a way to turn creativity on and off, there are a few things you can do to stoke your creative fire, so ideas continually spring forth like sparks from a roman candle. 

As a bonus, triggering your creative muscles aren’t akin to pumping up biceps and triceps. In other words, there’s no requirement of causing pain to make gain. On the contrary, nurturing your creativity requires more indulgent practices that allow your brain to unwind. So, get in your cozy socks, grab a glass of wine, kick up your feet, and read on.

But first, how does creativity actually work?

Scientists are merely scratching the surface in understanding this, but research suggests that creativity happens when our three major neural networks operate as a team – “the default mode network generates ideas, the executive control network evaluates them, and the salience network helps to identify which ideas get passed along to the executive control network,” says Psychology Today’s Grant Hilary Brenner MD, FAPA.

But how do you go about triggering that neural trifecta to kick start the creative process? If you know that things like monotony and stress stifle our creativity, learn a few ways that you can nurture those neural processes to get into a creative groove.

Pamper yourself

Give your brain and body a break with a little pampering. You don’t have to book a whole spa day to treat yourself to some self-care. Take a bubble bath, pour a glass of your favorite bubbles, and spend a few hours just doing nothing for a change.

Allowing your brain to relax just may lend it the bandwidth it needs to let your best creative ideas come forth. Not to mention, a little pampering can go a long way to alleviate stress as well as release dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical in our brain known as a neurotransmitter. It plays a vital role in how we experience pleasure, as well as in our ability to think and plan.

Take an extra long shower

You may be thinking that long showers fall in the same category as self-care and your right, but showers also fall into the same category of folding laundry, baking your famous biscuits, or doing any simple task that requires mostly muscle memory as opposed to complex problem solving. 

The principle, which is actually called “The Shower Principle” refers to the thought process that happens when our brains are slightly distracted. The grounding effect of executing simple routine tasks allows our brains to trigger creative thought.

Enjoy a cocktail (or two)

Give your brain and body a break with a little pampering. You don’t have to book a whole spa day to treat yourself to some self-care. Take a bubble bath, pour a glass of your favorite bubbles, and spend a few hours just doing nothing for a change.

Allowing your brain to relax just may lend it the bandwidth it needs to let your best creative ideas come forth. Not to mention, a little pampering can go a long way to alleviate stress as well as release dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical in our brain known as a neurotransmitter. It plays a vital role in how we experience pleasure, as well as in our ability to think and plan.

 

Hang out with other creative people

Your creative friends can do more for your creative fire than just let you know about all of the cool creative things they’re working on. In fact, creativity can be contagious when fostered by the right people, i.e. people you feel comfortable exchanging ideas with as opposed to those you feel intimidated or guarded around.

Move

Grab your leg warmers, queue up your favorite dance list, and get ready to sweat. Getting a bit of exercise does a number of things to promote creative thought. 

First and foremost, exercise increases blood flow. Blood is packed full of oxygen and nutrients which is carried to the brain in a great supply during heightened bits of exercise. Next, exercise triggers the release of dopamine and endorphins, two more pals of our creative mind. Lastly, low and moderate forms of exercise, such as walking, or going on a leisurely bike ride can have the same effect as the shower principle.

 

Shift your focus

Be mindful when it comes to triggering your thought process with alcohol or any other substance. It’s easy to push your brain over the line. But if you know your limit, imbibing to the point before getting too tipsy can relax your brain and body just enough to allow creativity to come in.

To sum things up,

Creative thinking is an extraordinary mental process we often take for granted. To clear a path for our brains to do their best work, take care to clear away the mental clutter. Destress, shift your focus, and do a few things to stimulate the release of dopamine to really get the creative wheels turning. If this means kicking up your feet with a cocktail after a bit of exercise, a long shower, and seeing a movie, well, what could be so bad about that?

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