I’ve been reading so much lately about embracing creativity and all of the wonderful benefits of finding ways to express ourselves in various creative outlets. A while back I read and talked about Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic and wrote about Flexing those Creative Muscles. That book inspired me to break out my paint brushes again.
At that time I had a small drawing I had done on a cocktail napkin swirling around in my head. I was inspired to take it from the cocktail napkin to the canvas. For a few weeks I would sneak down to a light filled corner of our basement and paint, not letting anyone in on what I was doing. I was far too embarrassed for even my family to see my attempts. When I finished and placed the canvas in our bedroom, I was amazed that The Husband thought I had purchased the piece. Ha!
Since then I’ve been finding time to regularly create something on canvas. I’m not sure what, if anything, I will ever do with these paintings, but it has given me a new, fun outlet. If you have some creative outlets that you have allowed to become buried in your crazy, hustle, bustle life, I would encourage you to read Life Creative. It is one of my recent finds and it is a great source of encouragement for carving out time and ways to get back to creating whatever brings you joy.
There are so many ways to feed this area. It can be preparing a meal for your family, rearranging your living room furniture, planting a garden or even a pot, singing in the shower, writing poetry or a short story, blogging, photography, or even filling in one of those wonderful new adult coloring books!
And, of course, I have to go on about all of the health benefits of being creative.
In 2010, the American Journal of Public Health published a review titled, The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health. The article set forth findings on the impact visual art activities had on patients battling cancer and chronic illness. Here are some of the benefits described:
“Art filled occupational voids, distracted thoughts of illness”
“Improved well–being by decreasing negative emotions and increasing positive ones”
“Improved medical outcomes, trends toward reduced depression”
“Reductions in stress and anxiety; increases in positive emotions”
“Reductions in distress and negative emotions”
“Improvements in flow and spontaneity, expression of grief, positive identity, and social networks”
These benefits would be great for ALL of us. Furthermore,
The impact of art, music, and writing can be seen in your physical body as well. In fact, this study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine used writing as a treatment for HIV patients found that writing resulted in “improvements of CD4+ lymphocyte counts.”
That’s the fancy way of saying: the act of writing actually impacted the cells inside the patient’s body and improved their immune system.
This means that being creative makes you feel better but also brings about physical changes within the body. I think that is pretty powerful.
All of the recent articles I’ve read lately on the benefits of being creative stress the physical and mental benefits of expressing oneself in a tangible way and sharing these gifts with the world. This is something we can all do. In this age of constantly being bombarded with social media and all the stress it can bring from taking in so much information, being creative in whatever manner suits you, offers an outlet and a way to produce something. “As long as you contribute rather than consume, anything you do can be a work of art.” I love that quote!
The beauty of creating is that it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, or perfect or earth shattering. As long as it’s unrelated to work it can be your art. Here are the TOP FIVE benefits for a better mental and emotional health.
IT RELIEVES STRESS.
Reducing stress improves and protects your overall health. Ever get lost in a project, knitting, groovy dance moves, or drawing? Apparently, these types of activities impact your brain similarly to meditation.
Like anything else, you may have to give yourself permission and make time to get lost in the process. It doesn’t matter what the finished project looks like – the beauty and the benefit is the process itself.
IT INCREASES AND RENEWS BRAIN FUNCTION.
Creative activities use different areas of the brain in different ways. Did you know you are actually creating new neurons when you do creative tasks? That can be crucial for a healthy central nervous system.
CNN also reports that people who take on craft-based projects in midlife and older have a 45 percent less chance of developing cognitive issues such as dementia.
IT CAN HELP PREVENT ALZHEIMER’S.
We all know we are changing as we get older. “When it comes to mental health, Alzheimer’s is at the top of the list. This progressive degenerative brain condition is associated with people ages 65 and older. This might seem like a long way off, but habits in our twenties and thirties can set the tone for the future of our mental health.”
According to the Public Library of Science, making art improves communication between different parts of the brain, which is vital to preventing cognitive deterioration.
When you are making or creating something you have to remember certain things to go from one step to the next. Whether you are following a recipe or following a DIY project instructions, your brain works.
IT IMPROVES MOOD.
This might be my number one reason for attempting to be creative in the kitchen, mixing different plants in a planter or pulling out the paints.
Creative activities have been shown to improve overall emotional health. The AJPH notes that creativity increases our control over emotional pain and depression. This is due to the self-reflection and greater understanding of oneself that often comes with making. You’re connecting with yourself in a way that you couldn’t otherwise. Similarly, PLOS found that creative activities can mold personality traits—known as “psychological resilience”—in a way that helps you handle outside stressors.
Another study showed that looking at knitters worldwide, those who were frequent knitters experienced feeling calm and happy. Now, I confess to attempting to teach myself to knit at one point. I was quite unsuccessful and ended up with a ridiculous lopsided sweater. I marvel at my friends who can sit calmly with their needles and have wonderful pieces magically appear. Now that I think of it, these women are so calm and seem so happy!
IT CULTIVATES YOUR SOCIAL LIFE.
A healthy social life is essential to our well-being, period. It’s exactly what a person needs for health. Socializing over creative acts and projects promotes more happiness and good health.
CNN reports that elders who socialize are also 55 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment. Notice a trend? These findings suggest preventative measures against symptoms linked with Alzheimer’s. So, make it a lifelong mission to take advantage of the socializing benefits of creative acts.
These mental and emotional benefits are huge for health and wellness. I hope some of these reasons, and maybe just for the fun of it, you will be inspired to take to the keyboard to write, take the cover off the piano, pick up a paintbrush, make a pretty flower arrangement or take a class. Even the smallest step counts and may lead you to larger steps and fun projects.
So just for fun I’m even sharing some of the pieces I’ve done lately. If I can go out on a limb here I know you can!
I am so inspired by creative people! I love going to festivals and fairs to see what different artists and people are doing. Pinterest and Etsy are great sources and I love scrolling through some of my Instagram “friends” feeds. There are so many creative and inspiring people out there. I’d love to hear how you find ways to be creative and find ways to be inspired.
Enjoy Your Day!