Express Yourself: 5 Ways Getting Creative Improves Your Health

by Emma Fath

If you’re like me, you were one of those weird kids who was thrown into art at a very young age.

You were visiting museums at every city you visited (from fine art museums to Civil War battle site museums), watching films, listening to music of many genres and seeing lots of live theater.

Subsequently, that led to studying art, which, for me, meant dance classes, voice lessons and music lessons.

At times, I envied my friends who were playing sports, but I’m grateful that creative expression is instilled in me. When I’m down, I can dance, write and sing (beyond singing in the shower).

Making art is a part of my wellbeing, and it is something we should all try. In this fast-paced, cut-throat, head-spinning world of careers, relationships and family, art is a way to deal with it.

Here are five of the best benefits of creating:

1. It will make you better suited to innovate on the job.

When you practice being creative in a non-stressful, self-expressive way, you will be more comfortable when you are doing a task that involves serious pressure.

When you become more inclined to think out-of-the-box on a side project, you are more likely to generate new ideas in the work environment. This is going to impress your boss and turn you from an employee to a vital idea generator at work.

2. It will decrease your risks of depression and chronic stress development.

Creative expression is linked to the healthcare practice. Health is beyond just fighting off disease and ailments. Researchers find holistic health (one which encompasses the physiological, emotional and social health) is a true assessment of one’s health.

This is a long way of me trying to say that when you express yourself creatively, you improve your odds of coping with tough life situations.

By getting it out on paper, on canvas, in an image, through movement or through music, you are coping, so you will be less likely to develop depression or stress-related illnesses which arise from a lack of self-expression.

3. It can improve your self-image and self awareness.

Okay, this one is linked mostly to forms of creative movement.

But creative movement has been shown to improve self-image in women going through breast cancer treatment. A study done of women undergoing treatment and practicing art as a coping mechanism for their disease found comfort and a positive form of self-expression in dance.

Creative dance, as in dance where they moved and told a story through the movement, caused positive effects, including improved coping skills, better attention and appreciation for self and body and an easier transition back into normal life.

4. It will improve your immune function.

Have you been feeling stressed at work? It’s not winter now, but when it does roll around, in addition to taking your vitamins and drinking your orange juice, be creative.

Some researchers at Teikyo University in Japan wanted to see if listening to classical musical would positively affect the immune function and anti-inflammation in mice.

After exposing mice to music by Mozart, Enya and random sound frequencies, they saw the Mozart-listening mice had better-functioning immune systems than the other two groups.

5. Ballroom dancing is being shown to delay mental decline in older adults.

As we get up there in years, the inevitable slowing down of our brains is going to happen. Ballroom dancing has been shown to increase mental sharpness in people of all ages.

But, for anyone who has ever done partner dance, or just enjoyed a good move on the dance floor, you know how good it can be for you. What you may not know is you are leading and following with you dance partner, and you are teaching your brain to pick up on quick changes.

This keeps your mind clear and sharp and, in turn, trains it to stay sharp.

So bust a move and beat Alzheimer's. Your older and current self with thank you.