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Cannabis, Creativity, and 7 Hacks For Finding Inspiration

Cannabis, Creativity, and 7 Hacks For Finding Inspiration

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Stuck in a creative rut? 

It can happen to anyone! That's why we've curated seven proven tips for getting your creative juices flowing again. Plus, we've included interesting findings from a late 2022 study on the relationship between cannabis and creativity- the results may surprise you!

So, without further ado, let's jump right in! 

1. Go For A Walk

Go for a walk in the city park

Ever feel like you're in a more artistic state of mind after walking? You're not the only one! A study conducted by Stanford University found that this simple activity was correlated with a staggering increase in creativity. 

Researchers separated participants into four groups: 
  • One that walked inside on a treadmill
  • One that sat outside
  • One that was wheeled outside in a wheelchair
  • One that walked outside
Afterward, each group was instructed to perform a creative task. The creative output of the two walking groups beat that of the sitting group by 60%! Interestingly, the report states that the participants' increase in "creative ideation" was seen "in real time" and "shortly after."

So, if you find yourself twiddling your thumbs while working on your next masterpiece, take a break and go for a walk. As the results show, you don't have to even go outside to realize the benefits! 

2. Get Some Sleep

sleep

Getting enough seems to be a prerequisite to almost every self-improvement goal, whether it be reducing daily stress or getting into better shape. Fostering creativity is no exception.

In 2009, the University of California San Diego conducted a study in which participants were either: 
  • Allowed to enter REM sleep
  • Not allowed to enter REM sleep
  • Allowed to rest, but not sleep
Controlling for other factors, the researchers then examined the creative output of such individuals. The results indicated that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, characterized by intense dreaming, enhanced the creative problem-solving of participants significantly.
 
So, if you ever find yourself stuck while trying to perform a creative task, it might be best to sleep on it and return to it later. 

3. Change Your Surroundings

woman working in a coffee shop

In 2019, Creative Control, a podcast from Fast Company, had an episode dedicated to how changing your surroundings can boost creativity. 

In this episode, they interviewed Robert Epstein, a senior research psychologist at the  American Institute for Behavioral Research, who stated: 

"New ideas arise from an interconnection of old ideas. So that means, at the very least, you have to be exposed to a novel stimulus. It gets you thinking thoughts and combinations that you've never experienced before. It's those interconnections among different ideas. That's where new ideas come from. And your environment helps to create those interconnections. And the good news is, to some extent, we all can control our surroundings."

Now, you don't have to shell out the cash to go to an artist's retreat if you feel stuck in a creative endeavor.

Changes in your environment can be minor such as sitting in a different part of the room, introducing a new item on your desk, or even a trip to the coffee shop. 

4. Spend Some Time Alone In Nature

spending time alone in nature

In 2012, psychologists from the University of Utah and the University of Kansas conducted a study investigating how time in nature affects creativity. They sent 56 participants on four-to-six-day wilderness hiking trips in Alaska, Colorado, Maine, and Washington State.

24 of these individuals took a creativity test the morning before their backpacking trip, and 32 took the test on the fourth day of the trip. On average, the people on the fourth day of their outdoor adventure demonstrated considerably higher levels of creativity. 

So if you're suffering from a lack of inspiration, take a hike. 

5. Shift Your Perspective


Our instinct when solving a creative problem may be to take a closer look, but, according to a 2018 study, it can also help to take a step back. 

Researchers at the University of Groningen and SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities were interested in how our attention to peripheral, rather than central details, affected creative problem-solving. They had participants come up with solutions to a problem either imagined to be close at hand or imagined to be at a distance. 

They found that participants who perceived the problem as far away came up with more creative solutions. They defined this as broad attentional scope, or "the ability to utilize peripheral stimuli and process information globally." 

Sometimes a shift in perspective makes all the difference. If you're trying to devise an innovative solution to a problem, try to disconnect yourself from it slightly, and imagine it at a distance. 

6. Get In A Good Mood


It's no secret that attitude is everything, but that holds especially true when you're trying to get creative. 

Back in 2019, researchers from the University of Bologna and the University of Trieste studied the effect of emotional states on the evaluation of ideas (a critical component of the creative process). 

Participants had to find non-creative, mildly creative, and highly creative uses for everyday objects. They found that participants had higher creativity ratings under positive emotional engagement than neutral or negative ones.

Looking on the bright side isn't just a cheesy mantra, it's also sound advice for your next creative endeavor. 

7. Train Your Brain


In ancient Greek mythology, creative ideas came to mortals from goddesses referred to as "Muses." 

However, as famous American painter Chuck Close once said:
 
"Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself."

The science sides with Chuck on this one. 

In 2016, researchers at Southwest University Chongqing found that the brain undergoes structural changes induced by consistent divergent thinking, aka "thought processes used to generate ideas by exploring different possible solutions." 
 
Basically, your creativity is kind of like a muscle. And with regular "exercise," it only gets stronger...with real, structural changes in your brain. Rather than wait for inspiration to strike, stimulate your brain with intellectual activities, and see new ideas come to life.

Findings on Cannabis and Creativity


Can THC help spark new ideas? 

In a study involving 300 cannabis enthusiasts in the state of Washington were given one of two creative tasks within either 15 minutes or 12 hours after vaping THC or smoking a joint. 

One task was for participants to list as many creative uses as possible for a brick. 
The other was to imagine that they worked at a consulting firm helping a local band increase its revenue, for which they had to devise as many creative ideas as they could to help this hypothetical band out. 

Throughout both tests, a group of third-party judges had to determine the creativity in the ideas developed by participants who consumed cannabis and those who did not. 

So what happened?  The study revealed that participants who smoked or vaped were a bit more...jovial when completing their tasks. 

However, the judges did not find any noticeable differences in creativity between the sober control group and those who consumed cannabis. 

The End Of The Story? Perhaps Not. 

Unfortunately, due to a long history of prohibition in the United States, cannabis research is still in its infancy. There's more to uncover about the relationship between cannabis and creativity. 

This study does demonstrate that eating a gummy or vaping distillate might not help you generate ideas, but it doesn't cover artistic processes. 
What do we mean by that? 

Ask a poet if they know every word and stanza for their piece before putting pen to paper. 

Ask a musician if they'll know every note or lyric before they write their next song. 
Ask a painter if they can picture every detail and brushstroke for their next painting before putting their brush to the palette. 

What we're getting at is that creativity can be a messy back-and-forth process, not just an idea that pops into your head. 

As the study showed, participants who consumed THC felt more enthusiastic and appreciated their ideas more than those who didn't. 

So, could THC serve as more of a motivator rather than an instigator of creativity? Perhaps it can help someone get through tasks such as composing a song, painting a picture, or even writing a blog post about THC and creativity. Is this why so many artists enjoy cannabis? 

Maybe science can one day answer these questions. 

Until next time, happy exploring, and mind your mind!

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