Kickstart Innovation and Creativity Using the 5 Senses

Filed Under Innovation

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Vanessa Reed

by
March 19, 2014

Research out of the University of Washington suggests that creativity may be on the decline. But don’t get discouraged just yet — studies show that actively tapping into our 5 senses gets our brain synapses firing.

Here’s how to tap into your creative potential and drive innovation with the power of sight, smell, touch, sound, and even taste.

Seeing Colors

Paint walls of the office with stimulating colors. Studies by the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin demonstrated that the color green sparks creativity. But why? The author of the study, Dr. Stephanie Lichtenfeld, an assistant professor of psychology at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, told MSNBC that the reason behind the increase in creativity among the participants may be that green is a signal of both physical and psychological growth.

Pro tip: The study used a shade of green similar to what we would see in nature, so try painting an office wall pine green or even take your work outside for a change.

Tell Us How You Really Feel

Routine can be the natural enemy of innovation. A manager of mine touted the power of making small adjustments to our daily routines in order to stimulate creativity. He would advise things like wearing your wristwatch on the other hand for a day, or switching your wallet from your right pocket to your left.

Pro tip: A tactile experiment for encouraging creativity is to squeeze a stress ball with your left hand. This simple activity stimulates the right brain which is dominant in art, color, and creativity.

Give it a Taste

A wee bit of alcohol can boost creativity because it helps block out the rational left brain. But when we are at the office, coffee, even decaf coffee, is powerful. The benefits of drinking decaf is that it tricks our brains into thinking we are drinking caffeine without the jittery effect produced by drinking too much coffee.

Pro tip: Suck on a lemon drop when studying for board exams or doing really difficult cognitive tasks. Lemon has been linked to enhanced cognitive performance.

Breathe Deeply

Scent has the powerful ability to stimulate memories, which can be helpful in creative writing and thinking. Certain scents, like cinnamon and vanilla, have also been shown to increase creative thinking. Lemon and Jasmine have been shown to enhance cognitive performance.

Pro tip: Experiment with different scented candles or reed-diffusers in your workspace. But not all at once! Too many different scents can clash, and have a negative effect. And of course, you want to be conscious of your neighbors.

Listen Up

Ever heard of ‘sonic caffeine’? Don Campbell, Classical Musician and author of Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind and Unlock the Creative Spirit, suggests putting music on when we need it most for our creative process.

Pro tip: Different music is good for different projects and environments. Experiment with different types of music at different times of the day to see what produces the best results. Try searching “good music for creativity” on YouTube and see what pops up. If it works for other people, it might work for you (and you might discover some new artists, too!)

Utilizing one or more of our five senses is an easy way to instantly tap into our own creative potential. By experimenting with different sensations, we open ourselves up to new experiences. In turn, we can draw on those experiences in order to drive ideation and innovation.

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