Do you know you can increase your creativity simply through diet and exercise? A healthy lifestyle is a secret weapon the world’s most prolific writers and artists throughout history use to increase their creativity. If you are an author, musician, journalist, or other professional in a similar creative field and you’d like to boost your creative output and achieve more success, knowing how to increase your creativity through healthy habits is vital.
How to Boost Creativity through Diet and Exercise
Here are five reasons why (and how) incorporating a healthy diet and exercise into your daily routine will increase your creativity this year and beyond.
1. Healthy Diet and Exercise Stimulates Physical Response in the Brain
Exercise specifically stimulates the Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) that encourages growth of new brain cells in the part of the brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is linked to both long term memory as well as creativity because this region of the brain helps people to imagine new situations in the future. Running in particular can speed up the creation of new brain cells in this region, and exercise helps improve the survival rate of these particular cells. Exercise also increases the size of the hippocampus itself. Creative thinking is dependent on the hippocampus, so nurturing and growing this part of the brain is essential.
2. Healthy Diet and Exercise Reduces Stress and Adverse Stress Responses
We know that exercise is a great stress reduction tool. But we can take this a step further because when stress is reduced, creative ideas are easier to come automatically. This is known as nerve-cooling that calms frazzled nerves and boosts mental health as a whole. Nerve-cooling leads to stress reduction and decrease in the stress response that happens when we are under pressure. A decrease in stress also helps the mind to focus and control wandering thoughts.
3. Healthy Diet and Exercise Leads to Improved Concentration
Exercise greatly improves concentration in all ages. It helps to minimize distractions, to let go of useless thoughts and increases overall focus for the task at hand. Many studies have shown that children who exercise regularly do better in school with their focus and attention, but adults can also reap the benefits of exercise to increase concentration. And it can take as little as 10 minutes of exercise such as bouncing a ball or learning how to do a pull up to start seeing these benefits.
4. Healthy Diet and Exercise Decreases Anxiety
Physical activity also helps with your mood. “Runner’s high” is the widespread idea of the positive feelings one gets after an intense workout. This is in part thanks to the increased endorphin production in the body during exercise, which is a hormone that the body releases that leads to positive feelings and a reduction in anxiety. Yoga is a great way to teach the body to create a relaxation response that also aids to decrease anxiety. Exercise in general helps decrease the size of the amygdala which is the region of the brain that creates feelings of stress, fear and anxiety. And we know that concentration and creative output is nearly impossible when we feel anxiety.
5. Healthy Diet and Exercise Enhances Abstract Thinking
The foods we eat can significantly increase our creative thinking as well. The stereotype of the “starving artist” isn’t necessarily true because the poorer the diet, the less creative output is produced because it takes brain cells twice as much energy to function versus other cells in the body. Pablo Picasso is a widely-known success story of artists who relied on brain foods. Picasso’s doctor recommended he eat fish and spinach to boost his abstract thinking. The best foods to increase creativity include unprocessed foods, cold water fish, greens, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, coffee and green tea.
The evidence is abundant that a healthy lifestyle reduces stress, focuses the mind, supports a better memory and increases productivity. And now diet and exercise can also help us be more creative, healthy and successful.