Happy New Year!
As is typical at the beginning of each new year, just about every other commercial on TV, in magazines, on billboards, and online will be about getting fit for the new year. Phrases like “Get Fit,” “Get Active,” “Join Now,” and “New Year, New You” are common to hear in January.
But did you know that being more physically and mentally active can help boost your creativity? A recent article published by Route 1 Print discussed How to Encourage Creative Thinking Using Science.
Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, stimulates the part of the brain where new brain cell growth happens.
This also encourages your imagination to grow. So, if you are one of the millions of people who has decided to start going to the gym (again) this month, it’s just as good for your brain as it is for your body!
We’ve always known that reading is good for the mind.
I remember being told in high school to read The New York Times—it was supposed to help expand my vocabulary and subsequently help increase my SAT scores as well. I’m not sure if it ever increased either, but it certainly increased my love of the arts. The New York Times Arts & Leisure section was always the first section I went to. Apparently, reading also forces you to engage your imagination and forces you to use your brain to create visuals and sound effects in your mind.
Harness the power of positive thinking.
They say that mood can affect your brain and how you think. When people were put into positive or negative moods and then asked to complete a problem-solving task, those who were in a positive mood performed better. I know I certainly work better if I’m in a good mood or if I’ve got my favorite music playing.
Daydreaming is not such a bad thing.
Sometimes you need to give your brain a rest too. Sure, eventually you have to get back to work. But don’t feel guilty if you need to take a break and just breathe.
“Counterfactual thinking, or ‘imagining alternative scenarios to events that have already happened,’
has been found to enhance performance on creative tasks. Specifically, additive counterfactual thinking, where you imagine what could have been added to a past situation, is thought to give our creative thinking a quick boost.”
I mentioned earlier that I enjoy working with music on. According to this article, so do many others, while some prefer quiet or dull “white” noise. So, listen to whatever you like to get your mind stimulated while you work. Just not too loud—ambient noise at a high volume (approximately 85 decibels) increases processing difficulty too far and this impairs creativity.
Some people love it, some people hate it. I’m on the side of loving it. The author of the article notes, however, that just going abroad won’t necessarily do the most good. You need to go to a place where they speak a different language from yours and have a different culture. Plus, you need to really engage with people, not just observe them.
So, for those of you intent on trying to start that New Year’s resolution at the gym, remember that it’s not just good for your body, you can be doing your mind some good as well! Though I suppose you can pick up a great book, too! Even better, multi-task: get the recorded book and listen to it while you put those laps in on the treadmill, or listen to your favorite music. Either way, keep your mind active!