I was curious, why did I feel better when I had made time to be creative? When I sat down to actually put pen to paper and write whatever came to mind. When I was creating graphics on the screen, when I was composing a pretty photo. It wasn’t just me who had noticed either. I ran craft workshops in the evenings for a couple of years and people frequently said things like, “I love this – it’s so calming”, “I wouldn’t be creative if you hadn’t made a space” “This should be prescribed by my doctor”
I know that making time to be creative can be a large struggle. We don’t make time for it and sometimes we are even unsure where to begin. It feels like an indulgence or being selfish to take the time. In our pressured, productive world it can feel like a waste of time.
And yet we know and suspect that there is more to creativity than that. When we have spent time being intentionally creative we know that we feel good afterwards. I suspected that it was because that was how we are made. I have the sense that being made in the image of God, we are most like his children when we play and when we create.
Practising regular creativity is a form of self-care that can be a strategy for staying mentally well. It’s not just my opinion, I found some articles that mention the specific ways that creative activities, such as painting, gardening, and creative writing, have long been known to boost happiness and wellbeing.
So how exactly is creativity good for our health? Here are six specific ways:
6 ways creativity is good for your health.
1. Single tasking increases your mental focus
When focused on making something your mind is engaged in that one activity for a prolonged length of time. With the constantly contactable, and connected online world that we scroll through on our screens, our minds suffer from not being able to concentrate on one thing at a time. Rather than making us able to multi-task well it serves to help us do many things badly. Studies have shown that it is better to focus on one thing at a time, it slows the heart beat and eases anxiety.
2. Working with your hands allows your mind to solve problems
Single-tasking also has the benefit of allowing your mind to wander and think on problems that your mind may need to sort through. I’ve known the soothing power of rhythmic stitching or crocheting and being able to do something with your hands can help your mind day-dream or think about things that we may not have made space to do.
3. Can help to decrease illness
Writing, painting and drawing and other creative outlets can give a voice to emotions that we are going through. This helps us to process emotions healthily. Writing about life goals or trauma have both been found to help to decrease illness.
4. Classes or groups may increase the sense of belonging and community
Taking a class to learn new creative skills or joining a group to get creative together, can establish new friendships and the more someone feels part of a group or community, wellbeing increases.
5. Reigniting former passions – increased wellbeing
Rediscovering former creative pursuits that may have lapsed can increase a sense of wellbeing. Taking the time to do something you previously enjoyed can be beneficial and creates a sense of pleasure and fun. Finding the things you are passionate about can give purpose, interest, and meaning to your days.
6. Creative play rewards the brain
Creative play gives a sense of freedom that children enjoy – being creative with no fear of judgement, no comparison, no striving for results all give creativity an essence of fun and freedom that in today’s pressurised world we rarely feel.
Research has shown that free-drawing, doodling, and colouring trigger the brain’s reward centre by increasing blood flow in the prefrontal cortex. Pleasure is gained from being creative – independent from the creative results.
If you would like the “3 steps to fitting in creativity for wellbeing” then click this link for the download.