As I will discuss in future blog posts, creativity extends beyond grabbing your sketch pad and drawing a pretty picture. It’s more about the process of turning a new idea into something tangible. Expressing these ideas in a tangible and creative way has a number of positive benefits on your mental health, and more and more research is emerging in support of this.
So, what specific benefits does creativity have on your mental wellbeing? Read on to find out…
1. Being creative allows you to reconnect and be mindful
We spend each and every day dealing with an information overload. From the minute we wake up, we’re bombarded with notifications, emails and phone calls, all fighting for our attention. We rush through our mornings, barely remembering whether we fed the dog or locked the front door. Gone are the days where we’d work on two things at once – now we’re working on three, four, five different things at the same time.
Being creative, whether it be painting on a blank canvas, picking up your old guitar or even just singing your favourite song, allows you to reconnect with the present. It enables you to take some time out from your cluttered day to be mindful.
2. Being creative provides an outlet for stress
Creative activities have been shown to impact the body in a way similar to meditation. This makes sense when you consider that both meditation and art encourage mindfulness and self-awareness.
The key thing here is that you don’t have to produce a masterpiece to benefit from being creative. It doesn’t need to be perfect, as it’s all about enjoying the process of creating. The process of cooking favourite recipe, learning a new song on the piano, writing a blog post, or whatever it is that you enjoy creating.
Even simply observing creativity has been found to decrease stress levels. So, if you don’t feel like making something yourself, bundle yourself into the car and take a trip down to an art gallery to immerse yourself in creativity.
3. Being creative enhances your brain function
You may be familiar with the notion that the left side of the brain is for logic and the right side is for creativity. Well, research has found that creative people have better connectivity between these two hemispheres. Research also suggests that this increased connectivity may be linked to a higher IQ (3).
In addition to this, when taking part in creative activities, you use different areas of the brain in new ways. Not only does this encourage your brain to start thinking differently, you’ll also find that creativity will start to come more easily to you. Developing creative ideas will become second nature to you.
4. Being creative allows you to express your feelings
Creative activities provide a healthy outlet to express and explore your emotions, particularly negative ones such as anxiety or anger. This means you’ll be more in touch with your feelings and more aware of your emotions, which can give you new insights into why you’re feeling the way you are and help you develop strategies to deal with these emotions.
Visual and performing arts are a great way to communicate feelings you might not be able to put into words, which is why the program is great for children who are facing new and unfamiliar emotions.
Different art materials allow for different methods of expression. For example, clay is highly tactile and fluid whereas pencils are more structured and precise.
5. Being creative can improve your mood
Creative activities have been shown to decrease anxiety and stress, and improve overall emotional health. This is because they allow you to channel your negative emotions into creating something positive and also provide an avenue for self-reflection (4).
The American Journal of Public Health wrote, in 2010, that art “improved well-being by decreasing negative emotions and increasing positive ones.”
We tend to place a lot of focus on the outcome of our creative activities (i.e. the finished masterpiece). But, creativity isn’t about the outcome; it’s about having fun in the process of creating something.
This week, I challenge you to find a new creative activity that you enjoy. One that brings a smile to your face, even if the finished product isn’t perfect.