The official definition of creativity refers to the use of imagination or original ideas to create something new: it is inventiveness and the hero is our brain. However, generating new ideas is only the end part of the creative process. To get to that point, we need to make sure our minds are in peak performance so we can think laterally and innovate, writes Dr Brett Lillie, author of Rediscover Your Athlete Within.
So what can we do to keep the mind ready, sharp, focused, clutter-free? How do we expand its capacity and take it to the next level? And how do we keep our energy high in the workplace so we can access our creativity and innovate? The answer lies in the physical, the body, and in particular, movement.
When the body meets the brain
We are meaning-making machines, so we gather data from the world around us through the body to make sense of our environment. We see, hear, touch, smell, taste and then carry information through our nervous system right up to our brain, ready to be processed. The more we switch on our bodies and take in information, the more we can generate connections and new ideas.
Research has now shown that when we move our bodies, we are able to activate our physical intelligence, our oldest and most crucial form of thinking. We create new neuro-pathways, access more of our brain matrix, concentrate better, see the bigger picture a different angle, become more curious, and go deeper and find better solutions. When the body is moving and in synch with our minds, we add different dimensions to our thinking process and expand our creativity: we are in flow.
Ready, set, create!
Let’s think about our working environment for a moment. We tend to get ready for the day’s schedule by staying static, usually in front of a computer, collecting our thoughts while physically being stuck in a chair (and in our heads). Then, usually, by mid-afternoon, after hours at our desks, we hit a slump. We wonder where the energy of the morning has gone and why we can’t come up with any more mind-blowing business-saving solutions.
Now, picture a soccer player ready to go on the field. They’d run up and down the sideline warming up, dribbling invisible opponents to get the blood flowing, swinging their arms to activate their bodies. They are getting themselves in a state of readiness to tackle the game ahead. The body is pumped, and the mind is sharp, ready to follow the strategies planned, all while allowing for creative freedom.
Here are some ideas you and your team can implement right away to inject more movement into your workplace and boost creativity, just like an athlete, YOUR Athlete Within.
- Think on your feet
Get out of your chair, stand up and start moving around. It’s as simple as that. Take a call while you pace around your office or get on your feet when you need a boost of energy. I often walk around the block just to clear my head and let new ideas form. This is one of my favourite “ancient” techniques to get my thoughts unstuck, recalibrate and keep peak performance.
- Activate your meetings
Prepare yourself mentally and physically for a meeting by taking a short movement break. During the actual meeting, take notes on a pad (the act of writing is movement and can help consolidate your ideas), use a whiteboard and markers, stand up to present. These are all little ways to keep you on your toes to process information at a higher level.
- Move at your desk
Even when you’re in a chair, you can still add movement to help you increase your focus. Try juggling all those stress balls you keep in your middle drawer for example or move your waste bin to the corner for a bit of paper basketball. An interesting study carried out in Japan has shown that even by simply lifting your arms above your head and swinging them about, you can increase your focus, re-set the body and enhance creativity.
- Breakout room
Sharing experiences with someone definitely adds to the creative process. Two minds are better than one and two minds in motion even more so. Why not create a break-out area in the office with fun (physical) activities? A foosball or a ping pong table are a classic addition to promote movement and connection.
This post originally appeared on Flying Solo. You can read the original here.
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