Have you ever struggled to come up with an idea for a class? Perhaps you have a great idea but lose focus on your goals. I’ve spent a month researching and experimenting to find the best answers to help you find or recharge your creative muse. Here are my top four tips for sparking your creativity.
Sounds like a simple answer, but sleep is something that students often neglect. However, rest is beneficial in more than the physical sense. In a 2003 study conducted by Ullrich Wagner at the University of Lübeck, students were given a problem then some were allowed eight full hours of sleep. Researchers found that it boosted creativity and enabled students to produce insightful answers versus students with little-to-no sleep. This suggests that our unconscious mind works while we sleep. Think about your story or creative prompt as you’re going to sleep. Keep a notebook by your bedside table and write down everything you can remember upon waking.
If you don’t have enough time for eight hours of sleep, try taking a nap. Researchers at UC Riverside Department of Psychology found a quick mid-day nap (60-90 minutes) can help “increase alertness and promote learning.” If you’re low on sleep but need to brainstorm ideas or study for a test, a cat-nap might help get the creative juices flowing.
Binaural Beat Therapy
Binaural Beat Therapy is an emerging therapy that can help spark creativity, improve focus, and increase serotonin. Binaural beats can be used as a sleep aid to induce deep sleep or lucid dreaming. Some therapists use
At first Binaural Beats, sounds hokey. How could music waves have a profound effect on a person? Therapist Deb Smith recommends practicing daily for a minimum of 15-20 minutes for best results. Other doctors have found that these binaural beats improved the production of the hormones cortisol, DHEA, and melatonin.
There are four wave types, each with specific benefits:
Delta Waves: produce a quick and dreamless sleep that replicates the brainwave when the body is in the stage four sleep cycle. Delta Waves won’t help with creativity while awake, but it will help you feel more rested upon waking.
Theta Waves: can be used while sleeping and awake. When you are awake, theta waves put your brain into a relaxed, almost meditative state, which will aid in creativity. While you are sleeping, theta waves simulate the R.E.M. or dreaming sleep stage. Some listeners may experience lucid dreams.
Alpha Waves: are used while awake to induce a calmer state, though not as deeply relaxed as theta waves, so they shouldn't make you sleepy. These are best used before a quiz or presentation to calm and focus.
Beta Waves: this is the highest frequency of waves and should be listened to while awake and in short intervals. Beta waves help promote concentration and awareness. These are best used after the brainstorming, plotting, or planning is done. Beta waves make an excellent, non-distracting soundtrack for getting work done. However, due to the high frequency, it is recommended that listeners restrict the listening time to 30-40 minutes as prolonged exposure can cause anxiety symptoms.
Distractions can help clear up creator's block. Have you ever been in a shower and came up with a great idea? That's because you're focusing on something other than the problem. Your subconscious mind is working on the issue while you shower. Make sure that your distractions don't take so much time that you stress yourself out procrastinating. Here are some other tasks you can do to help distract you:
- Take a walk or bike ride
- Visit a museum or new place
- Talk it out with a friend
Adopting the Right Frame of Mind
Adopting the right frame of mind may be one of the most helpful pieces of advice that are out there. Say you're given a prompt that you don't like or start creating a piece that you hate. Perhaps you fear rejection. Two main mindsets have been scientifically studied: fixed mindset and growth mindset. For the fixed mindset, the mind becomes paralyzed by fear of failure; thus people in this state of
Try these tools the next time you’re in a bind. I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.