The New Year is finally here! Some might welcome that with relief, given the hardships that we had to go through. And while we are still facing some challenges ahead of us, there is hope that the upcoming year will bring the much-needed change.
Despite the unusual circumstances, many of us want to maintain some sense of normalcy and keep up the habits from previous years - like celebrating New Year or deciding on New Year's resolutions. Or, simply, goals for the future.
With the busy lives we're all leading right now, and perhaps being a little bored from having spent a considerable part of the year indoors, some of us wish for a bit more creativity in their lives, or want to become more creative people. And for excellent reasons - creativity is linked to happiness and can provide an escape from our everyday worries (it has done so for me - you can read about my painting, Xanadu, for more). Apart from the obvious advice like "Just do it! Start drawing/painting/writing poetry every day", what are some other ways to increase creativity? Take a look at my list of creativity-boosting activities and hobbies below to find some creative ideas! Let's free that artistic spirit hiding inside.
1. Writing a bullet journal
Starting a bullet journal - a list of ideas or goals related to a specific topic - can be a useful way to track our progress towards our goals and help you break big goals into small, actionable steps. Some ideas include "Things I would like to un-do", "If I didn't need to worry about money", "Books I want to read"… Some lists are called "bucket lists" - which can include a list of places you want to visit or things to achieve in your lifetime, like "drink a cup of coffee in Colombia", "dance tango in Argentine", "see the northern lights", "start a company", "finally lose weight and learn to do a pull-up"… The list of ideas can go on! Writing these things down might get your brain working and help you discover your goals. However, they are also sure to boost your creative side!
Another idea is to have a personal journal, simply documenting your daily thoughts and ideas. Or you might start "a gratitude journal" with things that you are thankful for, which you could write in every morning - it's a sure way to start a day in a positive way. It can help remind ourselves that even in the darkest moments, we still have plenty to appreciate, and there are many far less fortunate than us.
Saving ideas for later, sketching, writing your thoughts down - even though they don't count as "creative writing", they will stimulate your brain and provide a lot of inspiration! Why not give it a try?
2. Learning a new language
Language learning is obviously beneficial when it comes to getting our brains to work. As you might know, languages shape the way we think and view the world. Language learners often find out that some phenomena have no specific name in their native language, but they do in other cultures. For that reason, learning a new language is training our brains to realise how much diversity and abundance there is in the world and think differently from usual - a surefire way to boost creativity.
Some compare creativity to gardening saying that "Gardens thrive at the hands of a good gardener, as ideas flourish at the hand of a good creative thinker". While that certainly sounds right, gardening itself can help you become a more creative person! For example, when you cultivate your plants properly, you need to prune them - it's essential to remove damaged or dead parts of plants to have a healthy garden. It can be seen as similar to the editing process when an artist - a writer - has to decide which parts of their creation to leave and which to remove to make the final piece impeccable. It applies to other arts besides writing - they all need white space.
Apart from that, gardening makes you more sensitive to the surrounding beauty and can provide an aesthetic experience (you can enjoy peony plants in your garden or fresh cut flowers in your home) - and in that way, also increase creativity!
In recent years, meditation has become increasingly popular and is said to improve many areas of our lives. It can help us become more focused, less anxious, “reduce the reactivity of the reptilian brain, increase resilience, stimulate the neocortex, as well as improve emotional intelligence”. If fighting the reptilian brain isn’t enough reason to start meditating today, be assured that it will improve your attention and boost your creativity at the same time. Committing to 10 to 12 minutes a day is enough to open your mind and get new ideas flowing.
You probably already know that spending time out in nature greatly boosts productivity and makes us happier. On top of that, hiking provides a unique type of stimulation to our brains - researchers at Stanford University found that walking inspires the creative centres of the brain. So, next time when you hit a creative rut, it might be a good idea to take a break and have some contact with nature.
6. Trying new things
Most of us follow what we know - when browsing music, we listen to our favourite artists or get app recommendations based on what we like. However, staying open-minded and trying unfamiliar things are sure to make our brain work in a new way and make us more creative.
Some great ideas would be: listening to music, watching a movie or reading a book outside of your usual preferred genre; trying a dish from another country’s cuisine, or buying a new type of food; going somewhere completely alone, if you’re not used to it.
And while we’re talking about going somewhere on your own…
7. Taking some alone time
Being somewhere without other people, especially an outdoor space, will make us notice and remember more details than usual and provide new stimulation for our minds. The key is to really take the surroundings in and pay attention to what you see, and not spend the whole time on social media. With fewer distractions, our often overtired brain will finally have a chance to process some thoughts, and maybe develop new ideas. How about a combo: hiking in nature alone with a break for meditation?
8. Attending The Peony Girl workshop
When you want to take your creative endeavours one step further and learn a whole new skill, you might want to consider attending one of the upcoming workshops! We have planned for a winter filled with activities, perfect for those who dread boredom or cold temperatures. Joining an online class is an excellent opportunity to dive into the world of fine art and create your first peony painting using gongbi technique - a traditional painting technique - or simply improve your skills. See all the courses here.
All in all, becoming more creative in 2021 is an ambitious New Year goal, but one that can significantly enrich our lives. Let’s work on it together and see you next year!