Some companies inspire their workers by overhauling their entire offices. But if a full redesign isn't in your budget, you can still help kickstart your employees' imaginations--or your own. Just start with these quick and frugal alternatives:

Debate

Sometimes critiquing someone else's ideas inspires your own. A University of California, Berkeley, study found that groups that ignored the no-criticism rules of brainstorming sessions came up with more creative answers than those that respected them.
 

Relax

Meditate; take a long, warm shower; or zone out to your favorite music. All of these activities promote the "mind-​wandering" state, increasing the alpha and theta brain waves associated with reflection and creativity.


Exercise

Taking a walk helps boost divergent thinking, or brainstorming, according to a 2014 Stanford University study--and regular exercise boosts convergent thinking, or problem solving, according to a 2013 study in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
 

Find Nature

Being outdoors increases feelings of well-being, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones. In 2012, University of Kansas researchers found that backpackers who spent three days or more in the wilderness showed a 50 percent improvement in creativity on tests.


Nap

Georgetown University researchers in 2012 discovered that naps help inspire right-brain activity, associated with creative tasks such as visualization and big-picture thinking.
 

When in Doubt, Have a Drink

In 2012, University of Illinois at Chicago researchers determined that people whose blood alcohol level was slightly under .08 percent--the legal driving threshold--performed better on creative tasks than sober participants. When it came to memory, however, they underperformed.

From the November 2015 issue of Inc. magazine