Creativity and Health

Sometimes when we are ill, our creativity shuts down or we let it go into

abeyance or we find we have little energy or inclination to be creative let

alone get out of bed in the morning. And, yet, these are the times when

we most need to allow our creative side to have free expression; it has so

many health benefits.

 

I know when I get grumpy or feel stuck then I have forgotten to take time

out for play, for fun, to exercise my creativity muscles.

 

And that’s how it is for many people; they often continue to prioritise work

over play, beavering away on their tablet, perhaps at a desk (do people still

work at desks?) on a building site, in a factory or wherever, often seeking

“la Chispa” (I just like that word, it’s Spanish for the Spark!) - that spark of

inspiration that will ignite answers to the questions we’ve been asking, helping us move ahead on a current problem. And it’s those moments when we’re distracting ourselves, baking, gardening, singing in the shower, dancing with the moon, skinny dipping in the warm waters, that the Universe seems to bring everything together and, suddenly, as clear as daylight, that big idea dawns on us, the answer to our needs. And it often comes quickly, simply – as in perhaps one word.

 

Moments of creativity really boost our health and well-being, help us release stagnant emotions — learning a dance or tai chi move or trying a new pottery or painting class are not just fun ways to use our time, they also generate energy and enthusiasm that we can bring into the rest of our lives. And when we and our mind and body feel good, in harmony and balance, our well-being and health both benefit. At a basic level, if you feel good, you are more likely to look after yourself and notice and deal with the stressors in your life.

 

Creativity Counters Stress

 

Stress is said to be one of the main reasons most of us get ill; some doctors estimate that about 80% of the conditions they meet in their clinical practice stem from the patient’s stress load or inability to manage it. Sometimes we just need a break from it. And so, our creative expression is a healthy way to do that, and gain stress relief. Making art is calming and meditative. Making music can energise. And it is not about making picture perfect products or playing the piano with great accomplishment, it is simply about expressing the ideas and feelings, the nudgings that arise from within. The finished product isn’t the point; it’s the process and how it makes you feel.

 

Taking the time to use our hands, minds, and energy doing something we love is of utmost importance in life. Being creative makes us happy and healthy, makes our lives more balanced. Art is FUN, and doing anything that brings joy reduces our stress levels and improves our quality of life.

 

Get Creative - for your health's sake

Being creative helps us make better decisions, become a better problem solver. When we create, we can connect to other people doing the same as us and we discover a new sense of community. Living with a sense of community helps us in many ways to be healthy, often derived from closely forming bonds, fellowship, and mutual support. Whether we're exchanging ideas, providing feedback for our new-found friends, or simply creating next to each other in silence, the sense of connection we can experience is undeniable and deeply rewarding and can stave off loneliness, or at least, make it more manageable. I used to belong to a theatre group and an opera company and whether on stage or supporting behind the scenes, I always felt my spirits rise and my well-being increase. And the applause at the end of each performance was humbling and visceral, triggering great feelings of gratitude.

 

When you are in the creative zone, totally focussed on your creating, you will experience a sense of timelessness, of being “at one”- totally absorbed in your creating. And ironically, when you give yourself time for creative pursuits, you actually gain time, inspiration, and a feeling of being refreshed, renewed, and revitalised.

 

And if your creations are of a product nature, making clothes, growing your own plants, creating healthy foods, think of the money that can be saved.

 

For a while in my teens and twenties, I would compose songs and looking back, for I was unaware of this then, I feel that that creativity was a route to and came from my authentic self. As we dig into our inner being, and access the well of creativity that resides there, or that chispa is the spark that ignites our inner creativity, our thoughts, beliefs, values, and images, we find that the more we create, we discover too our deepest longings and desires. And in so doing we respect our inner world and become better able to express ourselves authentically to the world on a regular basis.

 

When we create, we are given the opportunity to engage with the world without judging ourselves. We have permission to take risks, try new things, and strip away inhibitions in a healthy way.

 

From my own experience and through listening to clients, friends, and family talk of the rewards of exercising their creative muscles, I can report the following benefits from what people have said:-

 

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When I think of what makes for a healthy person, I don’t just think of the absence of physical or mental ailments, I think too of all of the above because that is what helps make a healthy, rounded individual.

 

And you? 

 

How could you express your creativity? It doesn’t have to be about creating a great work of art or getting public applause. You do it for you for the joy of doing it. To repeat:- the finished product isn’t the point; it’s the process.

 

Consider what and how you could be creating.

 

Ideas to get you started

 

 

  • Art – let art speak to you through drawing, painting, pottery, going to museums

  • Automatic writing – just write whatever comes into mind – don’t stop to correct it

  • Baking – bake or become absorbed in TV programmes not to critique but to simply notice

  • Confectionery making – make your own sweets

  • Cooking – cook something different, expand your repertoire, take a course

  • Doodling – oh just doodle, or get one of those books where you colour in mandalas

  • Drawing – sketch, paint, from your inner world, or interpreting a photo you took

  • Flower arranging – do it for yourself, for friends, join a class, start a class

  • Gardening – my father was a a gardener and achieved a lot in two acres! You could just grow in a window box.

  • Getting lost in a concert or piece of theatre

  • Journalling – take time at the start or end of the day to write your history, include what and for whom you are grateful for that day

  • Knitting – my sister used to nit wonderful garments and when her sight became problematic, she took to knitting squares to make bed covers to send to families in Malawi

  • Learning a new language, craft, hobby

  • Making music – learn a new instrument, join a group, a choir perhaps

  • Manifesting through visualising – perhaps a more thorough version of Visualising where you do a little thinking and planning ahead before commencing

  • Painting – the world is your canvas

  • Singing – in the bath, with a group, in the car (though keep your attention first and foremost on your driving)

  • Take in the sounds of nature

  • Visualising – start the day by closing your eyes and visualising the day ahead – what you wish to happen, who you desire to be with you, and how you’d like to feel

  • Swimming – gets you in the zone, water aerobics

  • Walking – head up and eyes out, taking in the world from the tiniest leaf to the energy rising from the tops of the trees

  • Wondering – if you have a problem play the “I wonder what….” “I wonder if ….” game – and allow answers to come in their own good time

 

Your ideas ….

 

Aim to come up with five

 

Schedule time for your creative activities otherwise they may not happen!

 

 

And if you do nothing else, do one of these: -

 

1) Sing your heart out when no one can hear AND as if no one can hear you

 

2) Engage your inner scribe… spend just five minutes each morning writing. Automatically                                                                                          just write whatever comes into mind; it doesn’t have to make sense or be grammatical so                                                                                                  don’t keep going over what you write to correct it; just let it flow.

 

3) Be your own muse… look for inspiration. Take five minutes, a pen, and a notepad and wander around where you are and just note everything that takes your attentions. Do not take an inventory, only write what in that moment took your attention….the title of a book, the flowers in a window box, the vibrancy of their colours, the music lapping in the background, the smell of freshly baked bread – awaken your senses.

 

4) Go walkabout. If you can, just walk preferably in nature, be in present time, notice what draws your attention, look up and out, not down.

 

5) Spend five minutes simply swinging your arms loosely from front to back to front                                                                                                       (it’s a Qi Gong practice – called Knocking on the Door of Life  )

 

 And do not be surprised if, in the process of regular bouts of creativity, you notice an                                                                                 ever expanding awareness of listening to your intuition.

 

Be happy. Be creative. 

  • A greater sense of self, positive self-esteem, and positive identity unfolded

  • A return to living life; stress, fear and anxiety holds us back; engaging in a creative pursuit sets us forward in the flow and spontaneity of life

  • Art, painting, writing filled the voids and distracted people away from the thoughts of their illness, or negative circumstances

  • Boosts your immune system

  • Boosts your mood

  • Cultivates your social life

  • Feeling better, more productive, tends to lead to improved medical outcomes, with eg a reduction in depression and a tendency to increased motivation, doing more so getting more exercise

  • Greatly reduced stress and anxiety

  • Grief was expressed through creative expression – art expressed what I could not verbalise

  • Has a therapeutic effect, creating calmness in the mind and body, putting us into a state of peace where we temporarily lose ourselves and forget the things that trouble us.

  • Helps prevent Alzheimer’s condition

  • Increases and promotes brain function, memory can be enhanced and improved

  • Joy returned to my life; I had a renewed sense of purpose

  • Negative emotions faded, and positive ones became more prominent giving a greater sense of well-being

  • Oxytocin, the love hormone, the pleasure driver, seemed to increase

  • Pleasure is taken in successful outcomes

  • Pent up emotions got expressed, and let go of, forgiveness became natural and easier

  • Reduced indigestion and inflammation by increasing the flow in the digestive organs, thereby lessening the production of harmful chemicals in the body.

  • Social networks – live and on-line – were developed and enhanced, I felt connected and supported

How to ...
knock on the door of life
Paint
Your Life
Healthy

© 2017,2018,2019,2020 by Andrew Hunter

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