“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso
“When we are involved in creativity, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
We are all creative beings, but like anything the less we use it the harder it is to access it. Have you recently picked up your colouring pencils, a paint brush, a pen and paper or played an instrument? More often than not our creative side gets neglected over a time, unless you do become an artist. Expressing your creative side might help to reduce stress and allow you to get in touch with your inner self and your emotions. Embrace your creativity to relax your mind and body.
Art Therapy is its own field, and it is a creative method of self expression and reflection that has been used as a therapeutic technique. You don’t have to be an artist to use and reap the benefits of art; you just have to allow your creative side to express itself. There are numerous benefits to it, as Heather L. Stucky and Jeremy Nobel write in an article on The Connection Between Art, Healing and Public Health:
“Art helps people express experiences that are too difficult to put into words […] Artistic self-expression might contribute to maintenance or reconstruction of a positive identity.”
Brain-imaging studies have shown how creativity positively alters our brain chemistry and boosts our mental health. Many of these benefits of creative activity are linked with the state of flow, a term coined by a positive psychology co-founder Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The state of flow according to Csikszentmihalyi can be defined as:
“A state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”
The positive benefits of the state of flow are similar to those of meditation. There are many ways how you can experience the state of flow, and one of them is by being engaged in a creative task. You can get immersed in it so much that the sense of time disappears, that thoughts and problems that worried us so much move towards the background and in the foreground is a complete immersion in creativity. And this helps to regulate strong emotions and calm the nervous system, some of the other benefits of creativity include:
- Opens your mind to new ideas;
- Builds confidence to try new things;
- Allows you a safe space to experiment;
- Builds a stronger connection with your intuition and inner voice which in turn increases self trust and respect;
- Gives another method to work through issues, uncertainty, questions, stress or trauma;
- Stimulates learning, innovation and imagination;
- Increases focus, problem solving skills, the ability to offer multiple solutions, emotional intelligence and mindfulness;
- Reduces the need to seek perfection, stress and anxiety and in some cases, physical pain;
- Provides a deeper sense of purpose and understanding of yourself;
- Boosts self esteem, self love, self expression, empathy, immune function, positivity and energy (both physical and mental);
- Improves mental health, memory, listening skills, coordination, cognitive function and can also improve physical fitness;
- Offers the opportunity to view the bigger picture which promotes bigger thinking and also encourages a more balanced view on life;
- Encourages play and fun;
Most importantly, you will still reap the benefits of your chosen creative activity regardless of your skill level. Just by engaging in a creative activity once a day you will boost your physical and mental energy and boost your mood. As The Huffington Post writes, those who partake in daily creative tasks experience “upward spiral for wellbeing and creativity”. A creative exercise can take the shape of anything from writing to knitting to creating music to colouring and cooking. Yes, even sitting down and colouring for 20 minutes can reduce stress and actually improve your creativity. Research done in the University of the West of England found, that “colouring can help to improve mood, reduce stress and boost creativity”.
It is time to embrace your creativity and reap the numerous benefits of it. So start crafting, and do it today.