Do you need to be more creative? Lower your stress levels
Does happiness make us more creative? Yes, it does. Incredibly, the greatest block to your own creativity is stress.
Thinking outside of the box and being creative is a fascinating process that requires the activation of several areas of the brain, and the interaction between those areas. When feeling anxious or sad, the stress center of the brain, otherwise known as the amygdala, becomes activated, which actually blocks the brain regions we need to be vibrant in order to be creative (such as the prefrontal cortex, which allows us to have cognitive flexibility). What this means is that when we are sad or anxious, we lose perspective and the ability to find new, innovative solutions to problems.
Also, when we are under stress, we lose the ability to create, because the “imagination network” in the brain cannot collaborate with our “attentional control network.” This collaboration allows us to think of new ideas, but also helps us figure out ways to express or implement them. When sadness and depression are predominant we go into survival mode, where creativity is turned off and survival is the strongest factor.
What can we do to increase creativity? First, make time to do nothing. No screens, no socializing, no work, nothing. At least 15 minutes per day, schedule yourself to purposefully zone out, preferably without any technology unless it is music without images. Next, go outside, into nature. Being outside opens our senses to different visuals, different sounds and different experiences, it creates new connections in the brain while also calming the stress response. Thus, the next time you feel stuck and can’t make progress on a creative pursuit, get out, let go and see the universe.