Creativity Is Self-Care

Creative expression nurtures the spirit and heals the mind and body

Creativity Is Self-Care
Creativity isn't reserved for artists and performers. Landscaping, knitting, home decor, and journaling all offer an outlet for creative expression.(Rido/Shutterstock)

We are all creative.

People who believe they're not creative wrongly assume that if they don't have a creative outlet or are not gifted in a particular artistic expression, they're not creative. In truth, creativity is a human attribute gifted to each of us, though some have cultivated it more fully while others have abandoned it.

Herbert Lui said: "That's why children are creative; they haven't had years of labels applied and stuck to them yet. They don't have a role to play, and thus, just by existing and expressing or playing, they are being creative. In that sense, everybody was a creative person."

Creativity is an often-overlooked aspect of total health: It is self-care. A person's creative outlet may be elusive because they haven't tried new things to find their perfect creative medium. However, exercising our creativity is a significant contributor to our mental health and well-being. Being innovative, which is often at the heart of creativity, makes us happy.

Therein is a clue: What makes you happy? What do you like to do or make? Creativity is fueled by curiosity and passion.

"The more you create, the more you discover your likes and dislikes. You realize your desires more fully and develop your own ideas, style, and technique. Your work reflects who you really are," writes Alisha Gratehouse on her creativity-focused blog.
The benefit of a creative outlet is that you gain a dedicated practice that is unique to you and that teaches you more about yourself and life. It's a vehicle for self-discovery and expression of your true personality, no matter what acknowledgment it may or may not get from others. Your creative endeavor favorably affects your brain and body with many benefits.

Benefits of Creativity

Human beings have enjoyed the benefits of creativity for millennia, whether that be in the utilitarian knitting of needed sweaters, or the arguably more refined art of composing orchestral music. Whatever the outlet may be, creative practice imparts its own rewards.

Increased Feelings of Well-Being

When asked what they like about having a creative project or hobby, many people say it makes them happy, they love doing it, and they enjoy learning new things about it. Maybe they don't know why it makes them feel so good, but they know it does.
Your creative medium provides a break from the everyday routine and a way to recharge after a tough day. It also helps to build and maintain a positive self-image. Your creative medium offers a chance for you to grow your skills, which is always a plus for your sense of well-being. Learning is a delightful way to gain a sense that we're improving.

Reduced Risk of Chronic Illness

A long-term benefit of creativity is that it reduces the risk of chronic diseases. One of the key contributors to chronic illness is stress, which triggers a biochemical cascade in the body. This is due to the fight-or-flight response, which gears the body to deal with immediate threats and comes at the expense of the rest and recovery functions of the parasympathetic nervous system. A review article published Behavioral Sciences in 2018 looked at 37 previous studies and found that creativity-based therapies delivered "significant reduction of stress in the participants due to interventions of one of the four arts modalities." Those modalities were art, music, dance/movement, and drama therapy.

Decreased Anxiety

A creative endeavor allows us to work out our thoughts and feelings. Creative writing works exceptionally well here. Painting and sculpting enable us to work out our feelings through storytelling and imagery when we might be unable to give them verbal expression. Music also calms the brain and helps us gain emotional balance, probably because it deals with multiple parts of the brain. From another angle, the stress-reducing impacts of creative expression are a direct counter to anxiety.

Higher Cognitive Function 

Creativity affects the brain with a positive impact on its cognitive abilities. A study at the Mayo Clinic showed that middle-aged and older adults who had a creative outlet such as woodworking or painting had a lower than average risk of cognitive decline. These activities require problem-solving and critical thinking skills that older adults need to maintain for independent living. It's just super impactful for the brain.

Effective Self-Care

Be sure to find your best creative outlet and give yourself the gift of well-being while doing something you enjoy. Your creative practice will also help you feel more engaged in your job, add more excitement to your daily routine, and help to develop your mindset as a creative thinker.

If you need help finding your creative habit, consider those things that inspire you. Maybe it's something you enjoyed in childhood. What made you happy then might be what you need to revisit. I recently rediscovered my childhood hobby of rock collecting. It brings me the great joy of discovery and the delight of creativity as I create beauty with them.

Your creativity must be a priority, something you schedule and document. Your creativity is an expression of who you are. Enjoy your creative self!

Related Topics