If you’ve been feeling down, off, or out of sorts lately, it might be a good idea to take stock of your creative pursuits and hobbies. Are you taking the time to do what you love? Or are you so wrapped up in your job that you begin to forget that there’s more to life than your 9 to 5? Carve out a time each day to engage your brain in a creative activity.
Whether it’s coloring in an adult coloring book, working on writing a novel, playing an instrument, cooking, painting, or anything else that allows you to express yourself, it is so worth it. Turn off the tv, put down your phone and just let yourself create. If you don’t know what you like to do or what you are good at, simply try whatever catches your attention and branch out of your comfort zone. Still aren’t convinced that creativity is important? Here are a few reasons to change your mind…backed by science.
Benefits of getting creative
Increases brain function
Academic study and research may increase the contents of your brain and make you “smarter,” but creative expression can actually help your brain process this information and improve your cognitive health. Creativity expressed in music, in particular, has often been connected to better brain function since musicians use both hemispheres of their brain simultaneously while playing and develop a heightened connection between the left side of the brain and the right side, even when they aren’t using an instrument.
Creativity also will often require creative problem-solving. Whether you are writing a story and trying to untangle plot thread, mastering a complicated piece of music, or drawing a picture and puzzling out how to get the nose just right, you are stretching your brain in new and inventive ways and improving your critical thinking skills.
Boosts immune system
While you may have guessed that getting creative can help improve your mental health and boost your brainpower or have even experienced these effects yourself, there is another, lesser-known benefit to creativity that you may not know about. Engaging in creative acts can actually help boost your immune system and help your body defend against germs and disease. Music specifically has been linked to decreased inflammation and increased immunity in test subjects. Writing is another creative outlet with proven immunity-boosting benefits, and though researchers aren’t entirely sure why, experts believe it may have something to do with the fact that writing increases your CD4+ lymphocyte count, which is the key to your immune system.
It’s no secret that engaging in your creative pursuits can bring you happiness. When you set aside all of the practical demands of life and let go of your worries and fears, you invite positivity into your mind and start to have a better outlook. When you’ve had a bad day at work, you look forward to coming home and picking up your guitar or decorating your bullet journal. You forget about the bad day and instead experience a rush of dopamine as you release your creativity to create something beautiful and uplifting.
Helps treat dementia
1 in 6 people over 80 will develop dementia, and unfortunately, there is no cure for this sad and often debilitating disease. However, researchers have started looking at creative expression as a way to reduce isolation and loneliness associated with this condition, and the results are promising. There is even some evidence to suggest that it may help people with dementia regain some of their personality and alleviate depression.
Improves mental health
As mentioned above, creativity releases dopamine into the body, which is a mood booster and natural anti-depressant. Creativity can help alleviate anxiety, depression, stress, and even support those who have experienced trauma. Expressive writing, painting, sculpting, or music can all act as outlets for those negative emotions and give people a safe place to process and express things that they may not be ready to talk about.
Ideas to help you get started:
- Write a story
- Learn or play an instrument
- Refinish furniture
How do you get creative? Let us know in the comments below!
-The UpWellness Team