3 Mental Health Benefits Of Creativity That Trump How Intimidating It Is To Try Something New
A few weeks ago, I found myself wandering through my neighborhood craft store, trying to find the cheapest oil paints available. I have no art training at all, but a string of stressful weeks left me craving an outlet to express myself, and so, I decided to try my hand at painting. Let me be clear: I'm terrible. But, IMO, that's not really the point, because my time to myself with art supplies and a good podcast are invaluable. The mental health benefits of creativity are nearly endless, according to a host of scientific research, and given my own experience, I'm not at all surprised.
But what is pretty surprising is the breadth of the benefits that creativity can provide for your well-being. And, look, if you're a little intimidated by the idea of picking up a new hobby, or more specifically, a new form of art, I totally feel you. But, even if you don't consider yourself a stereotypically "artsy" person, there are tons of ways to be creative beside painting or drawing. Try your hand at following an elaborate makeup tutorial on YouTube, or offer to style your BFF for an Insta-worthy photoshoot. Maybe even start your own podcast.
Whatever you try to incorporate into your life, give it your full attention, and then see how you begin to feel — because you just might notice these three awesome boosts in your well-being.
Creativity Helps You Heal From The Past
According to behavioral scientist and relationship coach Clarissa Silva, writing down your feelings can go a long way in helping you cope with emotional struggles or traumas. "[Expressive writing] allows people to take negative situations that cannot be changed and transform them into what I call an 'evolved narrative,'" she tells Elite Daily in an email, "one that empowers rather than disempowers by looking at the growth you gained as a result of the negative."
If you have a hard time writing about exactly what you've experienced, try making yourself the hero in a story. Whether you've always wanted to be invisible or think having the power to heal other people is incredible, create an entire world around yourself, and let yourself just get lost in it for a little while.
It Keeps Your Brain Young
For real, though: A study published in the Journal of Aging and Health divided 124 adults between 60 and 86 years old into three groups to determine the effect that creative activities had on their mental health. One group got involved in theater arts, another in visual arts, and the third group did not add any type of creative outlet into their lives. The researchers discovered that after only four weeks, those who incorporated theater arts in their lives had noticeably improved both their cognitive and psychological health.
So, with that in mind, why not try out for a local community theater group, or show up for the next open-mic standup? Yes, it'll be intimidating at first to put yourself out there, but clearly, the benefits are worth it, my friend.
It Can Also Help You Manage Your Anxiety
If your to-do list is about a mile long, it's easy to start feeling anxious about actually finishing everything you have to do. But, according to at least one study, spending a little bit of time drawing, painting, or doing something similarly artsy could seriously help with your anxiety.
The study, published in the contemporary research journal The Arts in Psychotherapy, looked at the effects that art therapy sessions had on nearly 200 adult patients in an urban teaching hospital. The research found that, not only did creating art help to improve the patients' mental health, but it helped everyone, regardless of age or other individual factors. "Analysis of results demonstrated significant improvements in pain, mood, and anxiety levels within all patients regardless of gender, age, or diagnosis," the study authors wrote.
So, whether you're 18 or 80, grab your favorite art supplies and watch your worries melt away.