Being creative has been proven to benefit your health and happiness in a number of ways – and you don’t have to be an amazing artist or creative genius to reap the rewards.
Here we explore exactly how, by engaging in creative activities, you can improve your wellbeing.
Being creative relieves stress
Studies have shown that 45 minutes of creative activity significantly lessens stress in the body, regardless of artistic experience or talent. Activities like drawing, painting, writing or crafts can have the same effect on your brain as meditating.
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains: “Many of the physical and mental benefits of creativity involve being in flow… a state we get into when we are so engaged in a creative task that our sense of time disappears and we momentarily forget ourselves … and unhelpful thoughts disappear for a while. “
Stress can cause health problems such as heart disease, digestive disorders, susceptibility to viral illnesses and depression, so reducing your stress through creative endeavours can have knock-on benefits for your physical wellbeing too.
Being creative improves your brain function
Practicing a creative skill can increase your ability to learn in other capacities, by exercising your brain to make it better at retaining information and skills. Not only this, but it helps preserve the function of your brain as you get older too.
“Making art improves communication between different parts of the brain, which is vital to preventing cognitive deterioration,” says the Public Library of Science. “Creative acts [also] exercise our medial temporal lobes, which are responsible for memory-making. As a result, our memory can be enhanced and improved.”
Other studies have shown that creative activities such as writing, painting, drawing and sculpting can preserve your memory and prevent dementia, with middle and old age participants being 73% less likely to have memory and thinking problems. Those engaging in crafts such as sewing, woodworking and ceramics were 45% less likely to encounter those problems.
Being creative boosts your self-esteem, confidence and happiness
Taking part in a creative endeavour outside of work gives you a sense of purpose and increases your overall confidence and self-esteem. Why?
“Feeling that you are solely defined by your job – even if it is going well – can raise your chances of experiencing anxiety, depression and burnout, because you may not have a perception of yourself outside of work,” says Psychotherapist Michelle P. Maidenberg.
Studies have shown that creative activities can improve your mood, which in turn increases your likelihood of engaging in more creative endeavours, kind of like an upwards spiral.