Running to Creativity
By Adam Damadzic
When we hear the word creativity, we often think of category defining products, like the I-phone. Some of us may even consider timeless compositions by Beethoven, or venture into the domains of art and theatre. It’s less often that we think of ways to BE creative. Thankfully, a recent article on Health.com promoted the idea of exercising to help “kickstart” our creative juices!
The article highlights some interesting topics for those looking to boost their creativity. First, the article explains how exercise can release stress and give our creative minds freedom to let new ideas generate. Pretty sweet, but I’m not sure how my office-mates are going to enjoy me running up and down the department next time we need to do some brainstorming.
The article really hones in on how physical activity can “flush out cortisol” which, in ordinary folk terminology, is stress. Gross! Cortisol is this same hormone that hurts our ability to creatively solve problems. Double gross!! So, the article argues that exercise reduces cortisol, which, in turn, improves creative problem solving. In other words, exercise helps us be more creative!
The author concludes with some advice - get exercising with some low concentration activity (e.g., running) to help your mind wander. Its also advised to bring a notepad to write down whatever awesome ideas spring to mind. Once you start flushing out that stress hormone, your mind will start clearing and making room for more creative ideas!
This research got me thinking about some other attempts to get creative when you hit a roadblock in your creative designs. Frequently, with creative problem solving you are limited in some regard, whether that is your budget, the timeline, or even the people you are working with! We call these constraints. Whenever you hear a story of someone being creative, it’s often accompanied by some kind of struggle or obstacle that needs to be overcome – that obstacle is essentially a constraint. Research by Peterson et al (2013) discussed the idea that training individuals on how to manage constraints, especially those that you don’t think about often, will actually improve creative problem-solving. For example, using an educational intervention to make people more aware of constraints that may appear during a creative task could increase feelings of self-efficacy (your confidence in the task) and ultimately led to you being more creative!
So next time you have a creative problem to solve, grind the track before you grind the problem with your team! Or even better, prepare yourself and your team with some training on how to beat those obstacles!
I’d just make sure you shower before you meet with your team…