Creativity As Self Care

Creativity has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress, as well as aiding in the processing of trauma and crisis. Participating in a creative activities can help focus the mind, improve mood, increase feelings of interest, reduce stress/anxiety, increase self esteem and activate the nervous system’s relaxation response. Creative interests are a great antidote to boredom and disengagement and are protective of our mental and emotional health. 

Research shows that all people are creative. In fact, creativity is one of the most important characteristics of being human. Something as simple as gardening or drawing releases dopamine, natures antidepressant. Nurture whatever sparks your creativity and makes you feel good. Try to remember when you were a kid. What truly gave you joy? Was it idly colouring, making lego villages, sewing clothes for your dolls or making cards. Try to remember how it felt. Something as simple as gardening or drawing releases dopamine and this is natures antidepressant. Nurture whatever sparks your creativity and makes you feel good. 

Doing something creative can help distract you from difficult thoughts or feelings, or help you to process them. It can also be rewarding in and of itself. You could try doing something like drawing, taking photographs, making a collage, playing a musical instrument, knitting or baking. Try not to worry about the finished product. Just focus on enjoying yourself. If you need support to learn or engage in something creative, why not see if there are some local classes or groups in your area. Learning a new skill in a group can be enjoyable and rewarding, and help boost your confidence.

To see what's on in your local area

https://www.creativeireland.gov.ie/en/creative-communities/


 

Some creative ideas to support your wellbeing

  • Create a picture - Remember the joy you had when you were a kid, when you painted just simply to paint? Create a fun challenge and paint a portrait of your loved ones, or of a subject in your home you’ve wanted to capture. The beauty of art is that it doesn't even need to look like them. You can be as creative as you like and experiment with paints/water colours, chalks, crayons, pencils, collage. Don't let your inner critic or unrelenting standards ruin your enjoyment if you can. If this doesn't appeal, try making a mandala or a vision board, if you like some more structure. Painting or drawing can help people process difficult experiences that they find too difficult to put in to words. 

  • Start a journal - Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be an excellent way to process your emotions. It can be a way of getting to know and understand yourself better which can put you in a stronger position to manage your wellbeingExpressive writing can help clarify your thoughts, feelings and emotions and make sense of what you think and feel. Journaling about painful and complex feelings and emotions can decrease the intensity of some emotions and allow you to be more present and mindfulWriting about difficult relationships and conversations can help you gain different perspectives and points of view, which can help in resolving certain issues and misunderstandings. Your journal can be creative or literal. It’s up to you to decide how you want to use it. Writing therapeutically and creatively can provide greater access to the right brain and creative thinking channels that generate solutions to your everyday problems and challenges. Writing your thoughts (e.g. writing a letter) and then physically throwing them away goes along way in clearing your mind. Try to support and nurture yourself by using positive self-talk and encourgement, rather than criticism. Writing can help you manage your negative emotions in a productive way.

 

  

It has been found that people who practice a creative activity once a day are happier and less anxious than those who don’t. It doesn’t matter how skillful they are. Even if they don’t excel at what they’re doing, they still experience the benefits of creativity and feel increased wellbeing. Creative arts provide alternative routes for self-expression and this is helpful for people who find verbal expression difficult. Expressing who we are, without using words, leads to authentic connection with self, and once we feel connected with self —mind, body, and spirit — we can more easily connect with others. Actively choosing to spend time doing something that absorbs our full attention, whether that's reading a book or starting a DIY project, has the power to nurture our minds and lead to increased feelings of wellbeing and personal satisfaction.

Repetitive creative motions like knitting, drawing, or writing help activate flow, and flood your brain is flooded with dopamine, the feel-good chemical. This in turn actually helps motivate you to keep doing more of it, which can be the beginning of a positive upward cycle. Whether or not you’re aware of your increased happiness, the hit of dopamine you get after being in flow will drive and influence you toward similar behavior. Any creative act such can help focus the mind, and has even been compared to meditation due to its calming effects on the brain and body.  It’s pretty amazing that doing the activities that make us feel good are genuinely good for us. So go grab a pen and start writing, doodling, or coloring. Get your hands dirty with pottery or gardening. Listen to some music, or pick up an instrument. Whatever you decide to do, it’s time to start getting creative! Make lifestyle choices that can improve your mood immediately. 

© 2020 by Theresa Cawley