How running gets your creativity flowing
Your heart rate is up, your body is moving, sweat is starting to show and your mood is lifted. You’re running! You had hit the so-called “creators block” but now you feel your creative mojo flowing again.
So how does running help with creativity?
It’s ironic to think that at a time of crisis (a global pandemic) one thing you could still do is RUN. Why? We all know that running has great health benefits. It keeps you active, keeps your weight in check and strengthens your muscles. Scientists say it can even make you happier. But did you know running can boost your creativity?
First, let’s get physical
There is a strong link between being physically active and having a more positive mindset. Running is a very natural way to improve your mood, lower your stress level and boost productivity.
Simply by moving, a myriad of biochemical reactions are stimulated around your body, making you feel different to just sitting. As you start to run, a surge of adrenaline is released and blood pumps around your muscles. There, glycogen is broken down and converted into energy. Your heart rate increases, making your sweat glands release moisture and the magic effects of endorphins kick-in. You get a feeling of freedom, your mood lifts, and your energy levels rise.
Research has found that when your heart is pumping at a higher rate, your body flushes out cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone that triggers the “fight or flight” response when your body comes under stress. Reducing cortisol levels enables your brain to relax. This calmer state of mind allows for fresh perspectives on anything challenging your thoughts.
As your heart pumps faster it increases blood flow around your body. It also increases the amount of oxygen reaching the brain. When your brain is exposed to more oxygen, it gains more energy which in turn encourages the growth of grey matter. This has lasting effects, making your more alert, more efficient and —most importantly— more creative.
The rush of endorphins, reduction of cortisol and increased oxygen levels all contribute to a heightened creative potential.
Then, let’s be mindful
We all have those days where putting one foot in front of the other seems almost impossible. When putting one word next to another in your latest article hits a brick wall. When any fleeting inspiration for new ideas to solve a prickly problem disappears into a black hole. At the end of the day we are only human, but running can get your creative mind unstuck.
When your body’s chemistry is stimulated by running, other things happen in your brain that can start your creative juices flowing. Your barriers are dropped, and the roaming mind is given the freedom it has been craving, like us out of lockdown.
Blue skies are shining, the birds are singing – you feel great! Being in the present moment enables you to be mindful to what is happening around you. You forget life’s stresses. You are in tune with all the sensations that are going around your body, especially your breath. Running is like moving mindfulness meditation.
Many ideas do come to us when we are not paying full attention. It’s great when we get that “eureka” moment. This is the unconscious brain coming into play. Scientists say that a lot of problem solving is done by unconscious brain processes that go on in the background. That’s why we can come up with some of our best creative ideas when the mind is just wandering.
Research suggests that the best way to get into an imaginative state is for your mind to be in engaged but not over worked. This is where running hits the nail on the head. You are concentrating on moving your body but have a relaxed state of mind, allowing your imagination to roam free. It gives your creative mind a chance to breath and let loose.
“Runners High” gives another boost. After you have pounded the pavements for 45 mins, sweat dripping from your face, your heart rate finally slowdowns as you come to a stop. You feel great. Endorphins are shining in all their glory and you are experiencing their euphoric sensations. At this point your mind is energised and motivated. Your stress levels have been reduced, your mood is high, and you feel like a new person. You are ready to focus back on the task at hand with fresh zeal and perspectives.
No wonder people get addicted to running. It feeds your creative brain all with the golden goodness it needs to flourish. If you have never ran, try it – you’ll never look back.
The finish line
After looking at the physical and mental attributes of how running can make you more creative, it is clear to see that there is a definite link between them all. The physical benefits of reducing cortisol levels, increasing oxygen to the brain, and generating endorphins are all factors that put you in a better state of mind. The mental benefits are endless, allowing your mind to have some time-out. In a mindful run, the unconscious brain is let loose and the runner’s high 100% beats everything. The next time you are stuck in a creative rut – why not lace up those trainers and step into the great outdoors.
Run! Enjoy!! Your creative side will come to life.
PermissionToPlay delivers creative thinking training that helps teams gain the skills, mindsets and confidence to solve problems differently, generate original ideas more quickly, and build a culture where innovation can flourish.
If you would like to find out more about how our creative training packages can benefit your business, contact us today or call us on 0330 311 0034.
Megan Godber is a competitive ultra-runner, recently completing her longest race to date of 100km from London to Brighton. Working in the creative industry as an Account Director for a Design Agency 2UpFront Design, Megan has always found that running has helped lead to the success of her creative job.
The next time you’re stuck in a creative rut, lace up those trainers and run!