“If you’re feeling down, do something creative.”
You’ve possibly been told this before, or you may have heard it said to someone else.
You’ve possibly thought it’s nothing to take too seriously, and paid no attention to it.
Although it may seem like simple advice, wellbeing studies throughout the years have proven it; creativity can help with emotions and productivity. Creativity is an advantage to your mental health and overall personal growth. In this piece, we will go through some of the ways that creativity can be beneficial to you.
The theory and science behind it
Creativity has long been studied and theorized about in different fields, primarily in the social sciences and psychology, but has also been explored in the humanities and philosophy. To begin with, it’s important to understand what creativity is.
We often think of creativity as something only kids do, such as making paper-mâché hats or finger paintings, or we think of creative people like photographers.
In fact, there are two types of creativity recognized in the fields of social science and psychology;
- Creativity resulting in products: this is where creativity is concerned with the actual creation of things, resulting in so-called “tangible products”. These are products such as inventions, scientific theories, musical compositions, and poetry.
- Creativity resulting in new responses: in this instance, being creative means being concerned with the generation of new responses, which can then be applied to daily challenges. This kind of creativity is seen as being essential to personal growth, personality integration, and effective coping.
The creativity that results in these new responses is what inherently helps us, even in ways that we might not recognize right away.
Adding little bits of creativity in our everyday lives can improve cognitive processes as well as confidence, unleash the creative facets of our personality, and increase our motivation. Considering all this, creativity is not just beneficial for kids, but also essential for adults.
A common misconception about creativity is that it is mostly attributed to inherently creative people, such as painters, photographers, musicians and so on, often people who work in some sort of “creative field”. However, creativity entails much more than we usually think.
Creativity does not necessarily need to involve some sort of stroke of genius, and it cannot necessarily be defined. Creativity is open to interpretation and anyone can be creative in ways that they feel best suit them.
Creativity and your mental health
Engaging yourself in creative activities can do wonders for your mental health. By completely immersing yourself in a project or doing repetitive motions such as painting or knitting stimulates your brain to release dopamine, part of the biological mechanism that results in feelings of pleasure.
You’re most likely familiar with the phrase “getting into the flow”, and this is exactly how creativity works for us. The flow of dopamine from your brain to the rest of your body helps to reduce anxiety, boosts your mood and slows down your heart rate. Getting into the flow regularly through creative activities helps to naturally boost your brain into thinking positively.
These activities also help improve your mental health. Studies have shown that this release of dopamine can act like a natural antidepressant, helping reduce symptoms for those struggling with anxiety, depression and even chronic stress. Creativity has also been applied in psychology as a method for processing trauma.
Creative activities not only make you feel good, but they are also good for you.
Creativity for your work performance
Creativity has even been linked to making employees more productive. In 2003, a study demonstrated this by analyzing how the ability of emotional intelligence can unleash employees’ creativity. It was seen that these approaches could benefit employees by enhancing creative thinking, productivity and teamwork.
The same study also demonstrated that a creative side resides in all of us. By awakening our creative side, we develop strategies in the workplace that can bring about better results in our work.
It has even been found that adopting a more creative strategy to accomplish a task at work allows leaders to understand their employees better, as well as giving them courage, optimism, and enthusiasm.
This connection of emotional intelligence with creativity and personal growth is recognized as an important element involving the environment a person is in and the type of tasks that they are carrying out. It is important to hone your creative thinking by fostering creativity in your environment and creating a more open space for yourself, a space that you can function better in.
So then, how can you get your creativity flowing?
Some activities that you can consider are:
- Adult coloring books
- Playing an instrument
- Dancing (even if it’s just in your own home)
- Knitting or crocheting
You might think that some of these activities are childish or not for you. Why would someone want to use a coloring book as an adult?
Aside from the mental benefits of creativity, these activities also bring with them physical benefits. Activities such as knitting and playing an instrument, for example, involve both sides of the brain; the creative and the analytical side. By keeping the brain stimulated, you reduce the chance of cognitive decline in the form of diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Activities like these can also help reduce the chance of heart disease by keeping your blood pressure low.
So, creativity is not just important for those who are inherently creative and artistic. Enabling our innate creativity can be beneficial to everyone. Whether you want to grow personally, perform better in the workplace, improve your mental health or you just want to have fun, trying to find ways of bringing out your creative side is definitely worth your time.