How creativity can help you manage stress (and ways to get creative in your daily life)

You might well be one of those people who think they haven’t got a creative bone in their body. But there are lots of different and easy ways to welcome creativity into your life, and feel less stressed as you do so.

Creativity is good for you

Practicing a creative art is an activity akin to meditation. Regularly practicing painting, drawing, creative writing, or other crafty pursuits has been proven to be good for us. Being creative allows us to process and express our true thoughts. It can improve concentration, encourage feelings of relaxation and wellbeing and reduce stress. Creativity helps us establish positive neural pathways in the brain that can help us feel in control and calm.

Creativity prevents illness

Finding ways to express yourself creatively is proven to affect your immune system positively. Creative activities are great for people who are constantly stressed or have a chronic illness. Creative expression has been shown to reduce the levels of anxiety-causing hormones in the body. This in turn, reduces inflammation. We also now know that having an ongoing creative practice keeps the brain busy and engaged, meaning a lower risk of cognitive illnesses like Alzheimer’s.

Feel better across the board

Allowing some time for creative pursuits can help you in many areas of your life. When you make time for creative pleasures and expression, you might notice that your closest relationships improve. This is because you are more likely to have new or more nuanced perspectives about other people. You might feel more engaged in your work or family responsibilities and be able to appreciate the little things that spark creative ideas. Using creative outlets to express your thoughts and feelings is also a safe way to release pent-up emotions and frustrations.

Good kind of graffiti

Grafitti is actually Italian for scribble. If you really have no idea what to draw, simply get out a piece of plain, fresh paper, a sharpie text or sharp lead pencil and start doodling. Just let your fingers and hands direct the flow and see what happens. You might create an intricate, repetitive pattern. You might use straight lines and corners to create a kind of abstract cityscape. Circles, dots, flowers, stars; doesn’t matter, grab a marker and get on with it.

Not just painting

There are lots of ways that you can express creativity. Drawing, painting or colouring might not be for you. Even activities like carefully tending to a bonsai plant can be considered creative expression. You might like writing poetry, short stories, or a cleverly worded blog on a topic you are interested in. Tactile creative activities like knitting and sewing are also really good for the brain and body. Try scrapbooking, journaling or collaging. If you like cooking, you could even try creating a new recipe from scratch with all fresh ingredients.

Making beautiful music

The benefits of playing a musical instrument deserve a special mention. It’s never too late to pick up an instrument and learn to play. And, there are particular benefits if you do so. Learning to play an instrument as an adult improves memory and coordination. It can activate long-dormant parts of the brain as your fingers learn to respond and move to make the music happen. Learning an instrument also increases discipline and patience, which are sometimes things we need to be reminded to put into practice.

Get the kids involved

Last Friday, after an early dinner, we were had a bit of spare time before books and bed. My son, who is only five, suggested we put on an instructional video and all create a picture to go in an at-home art gallery. There are some really simple, easy-to-follow videos available online. The whole family got involved in creating pictures of multi-scoop ice-creams with faces and then decided to have another go by creating pictures of dragons. Afterwards, we discussed what we liked best about each picture.

Make a time and space for creativity

When you have a busy schedule, it can be hard to imagine finding time to pursue creative activities. Make an appointment with yourself for thirty minutes one afternoon or evening, and make sure you keep it. If you don’t have a space at home for painting, drawing, printing, or playing, then see if you can reclaim an unused desk or a space in the sunroom that you can set up as your creative hub.

Feeling puzzled?

Anything that requires you to think differently from how you normally do will help you get more creative. Spending time pouring over a puzzle, examining shape and form and colour is a great way to get different parts of your brain busy. I also think that crosswords, quizzes and puzzles are all great ways to activate our creative sides.

It doesn’t matter if you never produce anything that is worthy of display in a gallery. By making time to practice creative activities, you are doing something positive to help you feel better.

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