Finding The Creative Edge With Neuroscience

One of the key modern challenges for organisations is creating a working culture that balances creativity with more analytical thinking.

In our busy world it can often be difficult to build the right ‘creative environment’ where people can get into the right frame of mind to generate insight and new ideas to solve problems creatively. Everyone has both analytical and creative abilities, though one aspect is usually more pronounced than the other.

It takes a conscious effort to develop such environments – but both individuals and employers can help by taking note of some of the recent findings from neuroscience.

If you want to develop a more creative organisation or are just looking to be more creative yourself, try some of these tips…

1. Foster positive environments

Neuroscience tells us that positive moods help creative thinking. So organisations must address the social and cognitive needs of employees to ensure that they feel safe and secure, motivated, engaged, and are rewarded for their progress. When people feel secure they are more likely to take risks – which promotes creativity (new thoughts can always be considered ‘risky’). Stress, anxiety, or negative moods have the reverse effect, limiting the power to solve problems creatively because employees are more concerned with avoiding threats.

2. Take a walk – let nature lead the way

Many people need space to think. They are unable to get ‘into the zone’ in a stuffy, cramped office. If this sounds like you, try taking a walk (how often have you heard someone say they need a walk to clear their head?). Being out in nature helps many people generate ideas and to think more clearly, without the restrictions of four walls. Part of the creative aspect of nature lies in its colours – greens and blues have been associated with relaxation and feelings of safety, which again promotes creative thinking.

3. Break to clear the mind

You know when you slave away at a problem and just don’t seem to be getting anywhere? Then your attention is demanded by something else for a short while and, when you return to the problem, you solve it instantly? It’s almost like a creative flash has been released and obstacles to solving the problem removed. This is why it’s important to discipline yourself to walk away and take a break from thinking. Free your brain to make new connections and associations.

4. Sleep well

Sleep and rest is vital for most aspects of health – including the healthy functioning of your brain. A tired brain cannot be creative, so make sure you get enough sleep and rest your brain. Sleep can also act as the ‘break’ where you walk away from your ideas and return to them later, refreshed and more creative. Neuroscience has found that when you acquire memories, they are stored in a temporary, delicate form. Sleep helps solidify these memories and make them more permanent – not only improving the memory but aiding creativity too. Ever heard of people having their best ideas in the middle of the night?

5. Let the subconscious take over

You may think that you are doing nothing, but this is never really the case. When your body is at rest your brain is still working, ticking over in the background, and this can aid the creative process. The conscious part of the brain is only part of the story. The subconscious is like an ‘always on’ motor running in the background, and it is responsible for ‘incubating’ associations. When these associations are brought to light, they can seem like a ‘Eureka moment’.

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