Using Creativity to Support Mental Wellness
Using creativity to support mental wellness is fun, engaging, and more accessible than you think.
Most people think of creativity as the purview of inventors, artists, and musicians. I believe using creativity is essential for every human being.
Why is using creativity necessary?
Some apparent answers exist, like creativity helps you solve problems more quickly and easily and find innovative solutions. But creativity also promotes mental wellness.
Often, when I talk about being a creativity advocate and coaching people on creativity, I hear self-limiting beliefs like “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” But I know that there is an inner artist in every human – there is an inner artist in you.
How do you express yourself creatively?
We all find our own unique brand of creative expression.
Maybe it’s gardening, dancing, cooking, baking, enjoying music, decorating, wrapping gifts, writing, crafting, painting, or the way you dress.
Whatever your modes of self-expression, life is enhanced when you consciously cultivate creativity. Let’s talk about some of the benefits of creativity and how it supports mental wellness. Here is a myriad of ways creative expression makes life richer.
Creativity Enhances Brain Function
A recent study in Scientific American Magazine shows that creativity exercises specific neural networks in your brain.
This keeps your mind more active and keeps you healthier. You stay engaged so that you live with more significant mental well-being.
In other words, creativity sharpens your mind. It is beneficial for your cognitive health.
When you are being creative, you cultivate imagination and divergent thinking.
Our human PFC is a powerful engine, and creativity helps stimulate it. Your PFC sits behind your forehead and allows you to examine creative possibilities like ‘What if I had done that in the past?’ It helps you imagine, ‘What if I could do that in the future?’
Using Creativity Generates More Mental Benefits.
Drawing, painting, and crafting engage your hand-eye coordination, which exercises your brain and motor skills. Playing music and dancing boost memory.
Visual artists, like painters, examine ways to depict a concept visually. For example, an artist might choose a nautilus shell to illustrate the idea of growth and evolution. The process of imagining how to convey an abstract construct is a great way to develop mental capacity and brain function.
Being creative encourages you to think like an artist. It opens your mind to view a situation from a new vantage point. However you express yourself, whether it is painting a picture, writing a story, or taking an artful photograph, you look at a situation from several perspectives as you explore it creatively.
Perspective is essential in mental wellness. Because the way you choose to see things directly affects the choices you make. So your perspective determines how you view your life situation.
These are just a few ways that creativity enhances cognitive function.
Creativity Boosts Joy
“A creative life is an amplified life. A happier life, an expanded life. Bringing forth your best; feeling free to respond to what life brings us at the highest level is the most fulfilling kind of creativity.”
~ Elizabeth Gilbert
Gilbert reminds us that being creative doesn’t feel like work.
Creativity helps you feel joyful and light. It connects you to your higher creative self, an innate part of yourself. I like to call this your inner artist.
I ask you to pay attention to moments that lift your mood in my courses and programs. Where you laugh or feel excited about what’s creatively emerging, these ‘at your best’ moments bring you joy.
And you begin to realize, ‘yes, this version of me is the one I want hanging around more often.’
Additionally, creativity is always found in the present moment. Staying mindful of what is happening right now, with a brush in your hand, the canvas in front of you, and the color you are creating is a beautiful way to mine the joy of being here now.
Creativity Enhances Confidence and Self-Esteem
When you create something tangible like a cake, a story, a zentangle, or a new dance move, you see that your skills are developing. This boosts your self-esteem and gives you a sense of accomplishment.
Being creative helps you practice problem-solving. Challenges are part of life. Part of being human is facing inevitable obstacles.
Creative people see the larger story. Seeing a situation from a higher altitude allows you to find solutions more easily. This gives you the confidence that you can tackle anything that comes your way.
Routinely overcoming obstacles helps you see that you are a capable person. That instills confidence that you can meet any situation with your own unique brand of resilience and adaptability.
Successfully finding creative solutions helps you realize that you have the innate problem-solving ability and acumen. And this confidence makes you a role model that inspires others to cultivate their own creativity. This type of confidence that comes from success directly impacts your mental wellness.
Creativity Puts you in a Flow State
Have you ever been so absorbed in a project that you lost track of time? When that happens, you are in a flow state, which reduces anxiety, boosts your mood, and even slows your heart rate.
This happens to me when I paint. I become deeply absorbed, so it seems like I’ve only been at it for a few minutes. But when I look at the time I realize it’s been an hour. I love when that happens because I know I am doing my mental health a favor.
Creativity is Like Meditation
In addition to being an artist and creativity advocate, I’m a Chopra-certified meditation coach. I notice that creativity is like meditation because it gives your mind focus and has a calming effect on your brain and body.
The average person has about 60,000 thoughts in a day. Creativity helps focus your mind and calm your brain and body so that your ‘monkey mind’ experiences more significant serenity.
You might be crafting, baking, gardening, or sewing, and you see that you feel relaxed and happy. This is because your creativity puts you in a flow state that releases dopamine, that feel-good chemical that is a natural anti-depressant.
That’s how getting into a creative flow state reduces anxiety, depression, and stress.
Using Creativity Promotes Balance and Inner Harmony
When I am creative, I feel greater internal balance and harmony.
When you express yourself, you tap into your divine essence, giving life to ideas that come from your intuition. This helps you feel a closer connection to your inner wisdom.
It almost feels magic, tapping into your own rhythm and intuitive wellspring through creativity. When you connect with your intuition, it can feel like engaging the pulse of a co-creative partner and letting your rhythms dance together.
Creativity is an Antidote for Loneliness
Loneliness takes a back seat when you include others in your creative ventures. Creative classes on the Wellness Universe, for example, are made up of a supportive group of like-minded people.
Many programs have a myriad of ways to stay in contact with your classmates, such as private social media groups. Mental wellness experts advise cultivating a variety of social support networks to stave off emotional distress.
A supportive group where you share your creative work helps you realize that everyone goes through difficulties and challenges. When your creative group is nurturing, their support facilitates insight and productive transition.
Creative Self-Expression Promotes Healing
When you engage in creativity, you are expressing your inner thoughts and emotions.
The self-expression tools and processes I teach in my courses help you process thoughts and emotions in satisfying and releasing ways. This also relieves stress. Painting or journaling your feelings in your private art journal is a practice akin to meditating.
Creating in your journal allows you to trace your journey and see where you have grown and what lessons you may be repeating. Expressing your inner thoughts gives you a greater sense of connection and union with yourself and the world around you.
Sometimes when words are not enough to express my emotions, I paint. That way, I experience ways to process my emotions without words. Creative tools like journaling, mind-mapping, stream-of-consciousness writing, and even drawing allow you to address the things on your mind.
Freedom of expression is essential to your well-being. When you express thoughts and emotions, you get clarity and fresh insights. The process of putting them out in a creative way makes them more accurate and solid, and then you see they can be tackled.
And whatever your form of expression, you bring unique, engaging, and beautiful things into the world.
The year I retired from corporate life, I committed to keeping a detailed journal so that I could more deeply understand that moment of transition in my life. The experience was so profound my daily journal became a book called Vision Quest, a journey to happiness.
I had a lot of fears at that moment in life, and I felt very safe putting those in my journal. With a sister who was suffering from alcoholism, depression, and anxiety, it was a turbulent time in our family. I often felt the worry and heaviness dissipate after journaling
Creativity Enlivens Your Life
Nearly every day, I wake up excited because my mind is brimming with creative ideas. I can’t wait to get started on my next creative project.
When you cultivate creativity, your mind is open. Ideas are buzzing, and the world around you is a constant source of inspiration.
When your mindset is in this open, active place, you can naturally generate more new solutions to problems, making you more innovative.
I ask you to take class notes in an art journal in my programs. To play with paint and pens and markers and decorate art journal pages.
But your life is enriched even if you appreciate other people’s creativity.
You get benefits simply from being AROUND creativity. According to a study originally published in the American Journal of Public Health, the simple act of being in the presence of creativity can also do wonders for your frame of mind.
So admiring a poem or piece of art in a museum also inspires your life.
I also coach people on how to thrive in retirement. Staying creative throughout your whole life is a central theme. If you stay vital, curious, and excited about life, your third chapter of life is filled with mental wellness.
In conclusion, setting aside time for artistic expression makes you feel joyful and increases your mental wellness.
So, play in your art journal, sing along with music, get your hands dirty with gardening, or find your own unique way to express yourself. Whatever you decide to do, it’s time to start getting creative!
Join me along with a team of mental health experts in a live panel on May 10, 2023, to learn helpful tips. Enroll here
The Soul Artist Experience course is offered on The Wellness Universe in 2023
Enroll using this link. As part of the Wellness for All Programming offered by the Wellness Universe, I will offer a year-long Soul Artist Experience program in 2023.
You can join The Wellness Universe for free. We meet once a month on the second Sunday at 1 pm Eastern, 10 am Pacific. What is the cost of the program? It’s donation based. All are welcome. If you can’t afford to pay right now or can only afford a little, that’s fine; if you want to pay the recommended amount, that’s fine too.
All the sessions will be recorded so you continue to have access even if you can’t attend every session live.
The Soul Artist courses help you express yourself and connect with your innate wisdom to awaken personally, creatively, and spiritually.
Feel your creative juices flowing, and find more passion and connection with life. Clarify your purpose so you experience more meaning and fulfillment.
No prior art experience is needed. I look forward to seeing you at the Wellness Universe.
Enroll now in The Soul Artist Experience.
View my YouTube video showing how creativity benefits mental wellness.
Discover more about my journey through my book on Amazon: Vision Quest; A Journey to Happiness by Jane Ramsey.
Read how Creativity is like Meditation here.
Watch this video to see what experienced Soul Artists say about the program.
Afraid to make art? Watch this.
Master-level soul artists give advice to new soul artists.
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