When you hear the word “creativity,” what comes to mind? For many, images of the creation of something – whether that’s visual art, music or a culinary delight, might arise. In our results-driven world, we are often taught to think of the product, rather than the process that it takes to get to the “end result.”
Likewise, we may think that creativity is something that a person either has or doesn’t. While there certainly are some people who seem to have more access to a steady flow of new, out of the box ideas, creativity is something that is inside of everyone. We all have the capacity to dream beyond the status quo, try new things, and look for solutions to problems in unlikely places.
This is good news, because creativity is a boon to your mental health and overall well-being. When we enter a “flow state” necessary for creativity to blossom (think getting lost in whatever it is you’re doing), our inner critic quiets down and our brain releases the “feel-good” hormones serotonin and dopamine. Basically, uncovering and accessing your creative self can bring about a natural high.
Whether you’re someone who already identifies as creative but might be feeling “blocked” or “stuck” or are curious about your creative capacities, there are practical mindset shifts and action steps you can take to unlock your innate creativity.
Here are 6 Ways to Boost Creativity starting today:
When our days are totally packed in with activities and tasks and we don’t make space for time to wonder, wander and see what happens, it will be hard for our creative self to shine through. It might seem counter-intuitive, but actually blocking out time to “do nothing,” or maybe try something new (that paint set you’ve been eyeing of the ukulele you bought but haven’t picked up yet?) is the first step to accessing our creative potential.
Let go of any expectation to “make” or “solve” anything. As children, we are encouraged to play because it is the key way that we learn, and as adults we might forget that play is still a necessary and helpful tool for working out our “stuff.” If you have kids or spend any time around them, see what you can learn from joining into a world of curiosity, non-judgment and freedom of ideas.
Let Go of Perfectionism
Perfectionism is the ultimate creativity squasher. It’s also something a lot of adults struggle with, and can prevent folks from even trying in the first place (better to not risk “failing,” we might think). Embracing the creative process will mean making space for and acknowledging when perfectionism shows up, giving it space to voice its concerns and reassuring it that there is actually nothing to fear.
Adopt Beginner’s Mind
Approaching any creative process, whether that’s solving a dilemma at work or home or setting out to create something artistic, with a a “beginner’s mind” means just that – forget what you already know for a moment. Yes, your knowledge and experience is valuable, but it can sometimes get in the way of seeing beyond what you already know.
If this is hard to do with something you already practice often, try it with something you’ve never done before (for example, if you are already really comfortable playing the guitar but you’re feeling blocked ,see what happens if you pick up a different instrument). You can then practice carrying the beginner’s state of mind back into the more familiar practice.
Look for Inspiration
Who do you admire who emulates a creative mindset, practice and/or lifestyle? Pay attention to how they’re spending their time and how they make intentional space for creative practices in their life.
It can also be just as inspiring to go to a concert, or check out a new museum, and notice the many ways that a single idea or emotion can be expressed. There really is no limit!
Work with a creative arts therapist
If you’re still struggling with accessing your creativity, working with a therapist who specializes in helping folks overcome creative blocks can help. Depending on what modality you are drawn to, music therapy, art therapy, psychodrama and/or dance movement therapy can support your goal of bringing more creative mindset and capacity into your daily life.