When was the last time you did something creative? New research suggests that, despite two thirds of us believing that it enriches our wellbeing, only one in four of us are living up to our creative potential. And it’s more than just a valuable form of self-expression, creativity is proven to boost relaxation, happiness and even problem-solving skills. Best of all, it doesn’t even need to take long. Here’s our pick of inspiring activities to help set your imagination alight.
Five minutes: Get doodling
Not just for kids, doodling is a simple way of sparking creative thinking. Psychologist Dr Jackie Andrade calls it a “subconscious incubation of the solution” – the idea that by not directly focusing on a problem you will come up with the answer. Her 2009 study found participants recalled information from a telephone call better when they had doodled during it, because it engages the cognitive processes in the brain that control attention and memory. So the next time you catch yourself absent-mindedly scribbling or sketching on a note pad during a work meeting or conference call, don’t stop.
10 minutes: Book an inspirational course
“Once upon a time, being creative was viewed as a personal characteristic, but new research proves this is incorrect,” explains psychologist Dr Jon May. “Everyone has the potential to hone their skills, but not everyone tries.” And don’t feel limited by traditional definitions of creativity like, say, sewing and painting; why not learn to write a best-seller at London’s How To academy (£25; howtoacademy.com), draw Japanese Manga characters (£30; hotcourses.com), or read Tarot cards (brightontarotschool.com).
30 minutes: See an enlivening exhibition
Leading a more creative life isn’t all about getting stuck in. Sometimes the best way is to absorb someone else’s output. Try Manchester Library’s Magic, Witches And Devils to spark your imagination (library.manchester.ac.uk) or head to The Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh for Facing The World: Self-Portraits Rembrandt To Ai Weiwei, which will bring you face-to-face with the world’s most creative minds in a series of imaginative selfies (nationalgalleries.org). Or head to London’s Tate Britain (tate.org.uk) for the Turner Prize’s controversial shortlist, which will activate your creative subconscious as you try and make sense of the pieces in front of you.
Next month: how to declutter your life