Today you’ll see a short list of different articles and websites that document the benefits of pursuing creative outlets. This is by no means exhaustive, but meant to whet our appetites for incorporating small acts of creativity into our lives, or helping us see where we’ve already have worked these into our regular routine, maybe even unknowingly.
We’re all familiar with the stereotype of the eccentric creative person, plagued by substance abuse and unmet deadlines, stumbling around the city while mumbling to herself about changing the wording on page 78 or some encoded rant about a Muse. These ideas don’t reflect the best parts a life spent in pursuit of creative expression. These are the shadow side, the side when a person (who may’ve been somewhat fragile to begin with) allows their drive to become obsession and their discipline to become enslavement. That’s not what we’re talking about.
While creativity is a mysterious thing, that doesn’t have to mean it’s somehow malevolent. Tapping into our creativity doesn’t mean we unleash some pent up darkness (although, let’s be honest, a little aggression thrown down on a canvas does release some inner negativity in a constructive way). It means we bring out to play a child-like part of ourselves we’ve ignored — we’re big grown-ups now, after all — , a part that is willing to try new things without the expectation of instant mastery, a teachable part that is curious and adventurous. It is this part we engage when we allow ourselves to express our creativity, in whatever form that may take.
We’re talking about the freedom that comes with play, the ingenuity that develops when you allow your mind to wander and make connections between seemingly unrelated things, and the exploration of purpose and wellbeing that comes as you discover the intrinsic fullness of exercising your brain and your heart through creative outlets. Sound good?
Here’s the brief roundup of just a few websites with information about the healthiness of creative endeavors.
An article researched by people at the website Art and Healing.org lists the health benefits from different creative activities, as well as different movements (yoga, tai chi, etc.). Another article, this one from News in Health, cites the benefits of listening to music, doodling, writing, and other creative activities. It stresses that you don’t have to be a professional artist in order to reap the positives of artistic activities.
This article by Be Brain Fit includes a video that discusses the benefits of art therapy.
This article offers an interview with an art therapist, and in my own experience with art journaling, I echo her statement that “the point” isn’t about the end product but about the process. And I love this piece from Psychology Today about the merits of meaningful activities done with our hands, not just mindless key-tapping or scrolling, but the act of transforming something, be it veggies for supper, yarn and textiles, or paper and paint.
Are you a little more visual? Need to see something in action? Here’s a short experiment in art therapy which measured its influence on happiness: In this video they even say you don’t have to be an artist in order to see the positives that can come out of artistic expression (and it’s from Soul Pancake, which is just a super fun, sweet phenomenon).
And finally, here you can watch a program about people who’ve been diagnosed with cancer and how exploring the arts adds to their wellness and sense of fullness.
Creativity is a wide open field, with room to spread out and inclusive of many different forms. Don’t be too quick to discount yourself from the party.
I’d love to hear your responses, and whether you feel you take time to invest in this important part of yourself. Please chime in in the comments, and be sure to share what form your creativity takes.