Creativity is a skill that tends to come in waves, and for some not much at all. When you work in a creative profession, consistently cycling new ideas can be demanding. Whether you are usually flowing with ideas or like keeping ideas within the box, here are ten unusual tips to get your creative energy flowing. Oddly enough, several of these facts are research backed, however I would hope you don’t change your sleep schedule so that you can spark the next Marcel Duchamp piece.

  1. Look at something Blue or green

    Research has long shown us that color affects our mood. This can be seen in various examples of color psychology (hence why the colors of your walls create a mood or “for sale” signs always being red). This rule can also be applied to sparking creativity, specifically with the colors blue and green. Two separate studies have demonstrated that exposure to these colors prior to a creative task improved the participants’ creative performance. The researchers’ theory is that blue and green both have subconscious links in our minds that affect our thought processes.

    A Huffington Post article talks about the reasons why colors are able to influence how we feel. "We react on multiple levels of association with colors -- there are social or culture levels as well as personal relationships with particular colors," explains Leslie Harrington, executive director of The Color Association of The United States, which forecasts color trends. "You also have an innate reaction to color. For example, when you look at red, it increases your heart rate due to being a stimulating color.

    They suggest our minds relate blue to the openness and freedom we perceive in the sky and oceans, and green is associated with growth and life as seen in nature and plants. Our state of mind relates to these feelings of growth patterns and openness, which leads to greater creativity.

  2. Write it out

    Although this one may not be as creative in invention as the others, its so effective it had to be included. Writing is a powerful manifestation tool, and has been a powerful method to transfer ideas and knowledge for centuries. Writing may help you better understand the topic you’re creating or help you revise your planning and uses more brainpower.

    According to a Wall Street Journal article on how handwriting affects the brain, it linked the power of writing to the specific movements that trigger reactions in the brain.

    “For those writing by hand, there was stronger and longer-lasting recognition of the characters’ proper orientation, suggesting that the specific movements memorized when learning how to write aided the visual identification of graphic shapes. Pictures of the brain have illustrated that sequential finger movements activated massive regions involved in think- ing, language and working memory—the system for temporarily storing and managing information.”

  3. Pop out the Rosemary (or Cinnamon Vanilla)

    One study found those who were exposed to rosemary aroma had higher concentration and cognitive performance. Rosemary also makes our long-term memory perform at its best. Cinnamon-vanilla smells and creativity seem to be linked.

  4. Stay Up Late

    The prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain associated with ability to concentrate weakens as sleep drive increases throughout the day. For some, this allows for more flexible thinking and potentially, creativity.

    “The brain might be freed up for more divergent thinking, allowing one to make new associations between different concepts more easily.” Hasler says that this effect combines with what research suggests is a peak in positive mood during the second half of the day, which can also be a catalyst for inventive thoughts.” 

    Another potential stimulant for late night innovation is REM sleep, the sleep phase where rapid side-to-side movement of the eyes occurs. This portion of the sleep cycle is associated with an altered brain state linked to creativity. There are many famous examples of scientists whose discoveries came to them in a dream. Many writers, artists, and musicians thrive on a nocturnal schedule and have brought their creations to fruition during late hours.

  5. Get In (or around) Water

    It is said that being in or around water often can spark a source of creativity. Many musicians, poets, and painters, attested to the feeling of wellness and peace that comes over them when they’re in, or near, bodies of water. Ever piece together a great idea in the shower? Its no coincidence. The term Blue mind science—the study of aquatic environments’ health benefits—could offer the cure for your blues, often simplifying our cluttered thoughts. 

    When we put ourselves at the edge of the water, visually, our field of view is simplified. Your sensory input simplifies. It doesn’t completely turn off, but the patterns become more clear. Auditorily, visually, somatically, you’re getting a break from constant noise or distraction.

    You have this different feeling that can be referred to as “Blue Mind,” a mildly meditative sense of being more connected to yourself and your environment. That mindset, opens us up to a whole set of cognitive, emotional, psychological, and social skills that are not always present in Red Mind mode (where we’re rushing around, processing lots of visual information and filtering noise). 

    Still looking for some creative insight? Stressing about it definitely isn’t the answer. Instead, watch a TED Talk here on cultivating your creativity….those always seem to hep get me on track.