Tips On How To Nurture Your Creativity And Thrive

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated June 24, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Creativity can be a useful tool for self-awareness, confidence, and mental well-being, but it's often a complex trait that emerges in unique ways depending on the context in which it's used.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines creativity as: "The ability to produce or use original and unusual ideas." Creativity can also simply refer to the process of creating something, usually involving some form of art. Still, business leaders may refer to creativity in terms of vision or ingenuity. When we think about children, we may say they have a big imagination. A product designer may be praised for their inventiveness. 

While we see these examples of creativity in our everyday lives, some believe creativity is a trait you're either born with or you aren't. But science shows that everyone has the capacity for creativity, and with some encouragement, anyone can become a creative person and continue to develop that creativity throughout their life. 

In this post, we'll explore the meaning of creativity, why it's vital for our well-being, and what you can do to move past the "blank page" to unlock and enhance your imaginative capabilities. 

A woman in a white sweater stands infront of a phone with a ing light during a livestream and talks to the camera.
Getty/Jasmin Merdan
Creativity is a trait we can cultivate

What is creativity?

Psychologists have been studying the nature of creativity for centuries, and research is still ongoing. Standard psychological models for creativity maintain that to be creative one must be capable of perceiving the world in new ways or from a different perspective. Beyond this explanation, theories of creativity become more diverse

For example, Arne Dietrich posits there are three types of creativity— a deliberate, spontaneous, and flow mode. Paul Guilford conceptualized creativity within the context of human intelligence as being divergent (the ability to find multiple solutions to a problem or situation) and convergent (the ability to deduce a single solution to a problem or situation). S.A. Mednick's theory states that creativity involves "forming associative elements into new combinations which either meet specific requirements or are in some way useful."

Regardless of whether you associate creativity solely as a function of cognition, personality, or context, it is a trait that people use in daily life, whether they realize it or not. 

Why is creativity an important trait?

Creativity is helpful in multidisciplinary capacities and contexts. Examples of how creativity helps us in daily life include, but aren't limited to: 

Creativity enhances our problem-solving abilities

Creative thinking allows individuals to approach problems in new, novel ways that may not be immediately apparent through conventional thinking. This ability is valuable in both personal and professional settings.

Creativity encourages critical thinking

Creative thinking is closely tied to critical thinking. It encourages individuals to question assumptions, analyze situations from different angles, and make informed decisions. All are valuable skill sets used in various personal and productive contexts.

Creativity fosters adaptability and innovation

Creativity allows individuals and organizations to adapt to new circumstances and challenges flexibly. It's often a driving force behind innovation and invention, potentially fostering progress in various fields such as business, technology, and the arts. 

Creativity promotes personal growth and well-being

Scientists have found a link between engaging in creative activities and improved mental health and overall well-being. For many, creativity is a source of joy, stress relief, confidence, and a means of coping with challenges. Engaging in creative activities can also contribute to personal development by encouraging individuals to explore their own interests, push their boundaries, and discover new talents and skills. 

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Strategies for nurturing your creativity 

Whether you're an artist, writer, musician, entrepreneur, or simply looking to creatively enrich your everyday life, there are strategies you can use to unlock and enhance your imaginative capabilities. 

Embrace a curious mindset every day

To boost creativity, it is important to maintain an open-minded approach and to be receptive to exploring new ideas, perspectives, and experiences. One can achieve this by seeking knowledge beyond the familiar and approaching challenges with a sense of curiosity. To continuously encourage a curious mindset, keep a notebook or record creative thoughts on your phone/electronic devices as soon as they emerge.

Explore new inputs

One can also expose oneself to a varied range of stimuli, such as books, music, art, and nature. Engaging with different forms of media and exploring various genres can inspire new ideas and perspectives. Additionally, attending events, exhibitions, or workshops can immerse one in different creative realms and provide inspiration from unexpected sources.

Create a creatively stimulating environment

Creating a conducive environment for creativity can be helpful. To make the most of it, consider arranging your workspace or living area in a way that resonates with your creative energy. You can add colors, art, and objects that inspire you and create an aesthetically pleasing and clutter-free environment that can help you focus better and enhance your creativity.

Embrace failure as a learning opportunity

Everyone may sometimes feel anxious about failing, but failure is an integral part of the creative process. Instead of seeing it as a setback, try to view failure as a valuable learning experience. Embracing the lessons that come with failure can help you refine and improve your creative process. 

Establish a routine

While creativity can be spontaneous and free-flowing, having a routine can provide structure and help channel your creative energy more effectively. Here are a few suggestions: 

  • Designate specific blocks of time for creative work daily or weekly to help train your mind to focus on innovative thinking. Pay attention to when you feel most creative. Some people are more creative in the morning, while others find their creative flow in the evening. Adjust your routine to align with your natural rhythms.
  • Develop rituals or habits that signal the beginning of your creative sessions. It could be something as simple as making a cup of tea, listening to music, or taking a short walk.
  • Think about incorporating techniques such as meditation or mindfulness into your creative routine. Mindfulness activities can enhance your creative thinking by promoting a clear and focused mind. These practices can also help manage stress and anxiety.
  • Develop a routine of self-care practices as part of your schedule. Studies show that regular physical activity and getting enough sleep can boost creativity. 

Collaborate and seek feedback

Creativity often involves bouncing ideas off others and seeking feedback to introduce fresh perspectives and new ideas into the creative process. Think about collaborating with like-minded individuals or participating in creative communities. Constructive feedback is a useful tool that provides valuable insights and can help refine your work, pushing your creativity to new heights.

Experiment with different mediums

Exploring different creative mediums can be an opportunity to challenge oneself and stimulate creativity by introducing novel concepts and approaches to one's primary creative outlet. For example, a writer can try their hand at visual arts, and a musician can experiment with writing. 

Take a break from thinking

It's important to allow your mind the necessary time to rest and recharge. Creative breakthroughs often happen during moments of relaxation. Take breaks, go for a walk, or engage in activities unrelated to your creative work. Returning with a fresh perspective can lead to more innovative and refined ideas.

Getty/Halfpoint Images
Creativity is a trait we can cultivate

How online therapy can help

Many people turn to online coaching or counseling to gain deeper self-understanding, insight, and creativity. Online therapy through platforms like BetterHelp has become increasingly popular and offers several benefits over traditional, in-person counseling. 

For example, online therapy provides greater accessibility to mental health services, particularly for individuals in remote or underserved areas, allowing people to connect with licensed mental health professionals from the comfort of their own homes. This also alleviates concerns around discretion, accommodating individuals who might feel uncomfortable going to counseling in an office. 

You can schedule sessions at times that suit your busy schedule via video chat, online messaging, phone, or text. Online therapy is often more affordable than traditional therapy without insurance, and research indicates it's just as effective for helping clients get in touch with themselves through methods like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a common therapeutic method used to treat conditions like anxiety and depression, but it's also clinically proven to help develop cognitive skills that facilitate creativity.

Takeaway

While creative ideas seem to come more easily for some people than others, strengthening creativity is possible for everyone with daily effort and self-discovery. By following the tips above, you may be able to develop your creative side and engage in more innovative thinking. If you're ready to discover and nurture creativity, reach out to a licensed, experienced BetterHelp professional and begin your journey.
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