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7 simple ways to be more creative this year

Being creative isn’t easy, even for artists, musicians or others who do something creative as their full time job.

At times, the ideas come easily, and other times the task of summoning creativity can feel daunting.

There’s lots of research on what prompts creativity, and it is also well documented how being engaged in something creative can be good for your health and wellness.

If you’re looking to live a more creative life in 2018, here are seven ways to do it.

1. Eliminate distractions

Research confirms that it takes thought to experience beauty when looking at a beautiful image.

A New York University study published last year found that when participants were distracted, it diminished their ability to experience the beauty of a series of objects.

It follows that in order to better appreciate beauty and art, it’s good to get rid of distractions.

For instance The same applies when looking at art. And these days, the biggest distraction at galleries and museums is very likely your cell phone. So, next time you’re heading out to see art, consider putting your phone away, or leave it at home altogether. Research has found that the mere presence of a phone in your pocket can lessen your focus.

2. Do something tactile

When you were dropping your child at Kindy were you ever tempted to sit down at the playdough table for a bit? I know I always was.

If you’ve ever worked with clay, you’ll probably agree that there’s something about the medium that is inherently therapeutic. It’s a bit like kneading bread dough, there's a wonderful sense of calm that comes from kneading and shaping a ball of dough with your hands.

Hong Kong-based art psychotherapist Joshua Nan devised a study to measure the effects of clay art therapy on adults with major depressive disorder. Nan, who is himself a potter, conducted a study with a fellow professor at the University of Hong Kong.

Their findings, published last year, suggest that creating objects out of clay can help adults with to depressive disorders to improve their mood, decision-making, and motivation.

3. Seek solitude

Spending time alone is often associated with loneliness and isolation but it doesn't have to be a negative situation.

But some who intentionally search out solitude tend to score higher on a measure of creativity, according to a study published in November 2017. The research found that the motivation that leads a person to avoid social interactions is crucial in understanding the effects of being alone, and not all reasons for social withdrawal are bad.

Specifically, while the study found that those who were shy or anti-social were less creative, those who were able socialise but preferred not to were more creative.

4. Go for a walk

A study conducted by Stanford University researchers in 2014 showed that walking improves convergent thinking, which includes skills like problem-solving, and divergent thinking, which is related to formulating original ideas. Both cognitive processes are tied to creativity.

It doesn't have to be an extreme workout. You could choose to go for a run or you could just go for a amble – while lost in thought.

It's about changing your immediate surroundings and letting yourself get lost in though.

5. Declutter

You may think artistic types thriving in messy, cluttered studios is the ultimate expression of freewheeling creativity. But this is a bit of a cliché.

To boost your creativity you need to be in an environment that inspires you and that includes eliminating things that bring you down, have negative associations or materials and supplies that you no longer need.

6. Listen to happy music or daydream

It turns out, a lot of the stuff you already do, when done with a specific intention, can lead to improved creativity. Take listening to music. One recent study explored how classical music impacts cognition and found that listening to “happy” classical music is associated with an increase in divergent thinking.

Another study published this year found that daydreaming is linked to both intelligence and creativity. So now you have a good excuse to give your boss when you’re caught staring off into space at your desk.

7. Turn off or ignore the negative voices in your head.

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