Spark Your Mind with Creativity

An extended vacation can provide a health refresher, but time off isn’t the only way to boost your brain. Fitting creativity in your daily routine also sparks the mind and body. That’s because engaging in a new activity or skill floods the brain with the feel-good hormone dopamine and strengthens our synapses. “By branching out and doing something your body isn’t used to, you’re training your brain to work differently,” says Roper St. Francis Healthcare affiliated primary care physician Dr. Margaret Sorrell. “Creative activity can help build problem solving skills and elevate your ability to think outside the box.” So what exactly does it mean to flex your creative brain?

Taking Sides

Previous thinking linked the right hemisphere of the brain to creativity, emotions and abstract thought, and the left to logic, analysis, language and detail-oriented tasks. Over the last decade, however, newer research has emerged showing that the “sides” of the brain work together rather than individually to accomplish day-to-day functioning across a variety of skills. All to say, creativity can be exercised in a variety of ways.

Best Practices

• Mix up your workout: Try different forms of yoga, enroll in a dance class, exercise in a new outdoor location or add diverse weight training to your routine.

• Gain fresh knowledge: Learn another language, practice playing a musical instrument, tackle a crossword puzzle, listen to a public speaker or enroll in a continuing education class at a local college or online.

• Engage your inner artist: Write in a journal, draw or paint a picture, make a flower arrangement for your table, scrapbook family photos, doodle or try your hand at an adult coloring book.

• Change up your daily routine: Read a book in a new-to-you genre, redecorate a room in your home, join a club or adventure to somewhere you’ve never been before.

The Benefits

• Artistic endeavors have been proven to reduce the risk of memory loss and dementia.

• Learning something new each day strengthens and reinforces brain connections.

• Creative activity coupled with daily exercise, a nutrient-dense diet and seven to eight hours of sleep nightly can maximize your brain health.

Photographs by (painting) Prostock-studio; (brain illustration) Planet Of Vectors