If you’ve ever had a creative outlet, you probably know it can make you feel happy. Whether it’s visual art, making music, singing, producing some crafts, or writing, finding a way to be creative has true mental health benefits. A 2014 study found that producing visual art leads to increased psychological resilience, and this is just one of many studies in the last few years that has found that creativity has benefits for both physical and mental health. In fact, even viewing art can be beneficial for our health and wellness.
Creativity and Physical Health
Recent studies have found that creativity can actually impact our physical health and wellness. A study about 10 years ago found that music can help people recovering from strokes. Patients were given music therapy and the scientists found that the stroke patients recovered memory more quickly, were able to regain control of their bodies more quickly, and had less confusion. This is just one example with one creative medium.
Other studies reported by the National Institutes of Health found that art therapy can help increase quality of life, improve speech capability in children with cerebral palsy, and give energy to chemotherapy patients. Writing has also been found to help fight infection!
These studies are largely investigating disorders and illnesses, but find pretty consistently that expressive arts are healthy for the human body. Even looking at visual art or listening to music can help, and actually creating some art ourselves is most beneficial. We can use this knowledge in our own lives to create a healthier life for ourselves physically.
Mental Health and Creativity
The American Journal of Public Health published a 2010 review of recent studies about creativity and mental health. Among other things, the review found that art and creativity had benefits in dealing with physical illness, reducing stress and anxiety, improvements in focus and concentration, and decreasing of distress and negative emotions.
Further studies have found that engaging in a creative activity can reduce rates of depression, increase memory function, and encourage relaxation. Art can also help us socialize with those around us, especially in the form of going to museums, watching a dance, or going to see live music. When we engage the mind in this way, we are creating conditions for a healthy and creative mind.
Finding a Creative Outlet
You may not consider yourself a “good artist,” or an especially creative person. That’s okay. Maybe you haven’t found a creative outlet because you haven’t really tried different ways to be creative. Whatever the case may be, there’s one simple solution: get out there and try new things. You can start by seeing what sparks your interest in regards to viewing art. Do you like movies, any type of music, dance, photography, painting, animation, poetry, writing, sculpting, or textiles? Perhaps start somewhere that even mildly sparks some interest and dig a little deeper. Often, when we begin to engage with something we can find something that interests us. It just takes the initial investigation to see what that is.
On the other hand, perhaps we can find a way to be creative in our lives. You may try simple things like:
- Playing an instrument
These are just a few simple ideas. You never know what you’ll find interesting! In the last decade, I’ve found that I enjoy writing, tie-dying, making concrete pottery, playing guitar, and making beaded jewelry. These were not things I was good at or had a huge interest in. Rather, they just kind of happened as I began to investigate different forms of creativity.