In a world that often feels chaotic and demanding, it is common to seek solace and respite from the stresses of daily life. For many, a highly relieving factor lies in creativity. Engaging in creative endeavors, through any form of self expression, can be profoundly healing. This blog post delves into the ways in which creativity can bring therapeutic benefits, fostering emotional well-being, reducing stress, and enhancing mental health.
Benefits of Creativity
Mindfulness and Stress Reduction: Unfortunately, stress is ever-present in our lives, but creativity can help many find relief. For some, creating serves as a hobby, a way to pass time peacefully or joyfully. Being creative can also be distracting, especially useful when we’re dealing with difficult emotions. But creativity can go beyond enjoyment and distraction. Creativity encourages mindfulness and being present in the moment. When we immerse ourselves in the creative process, our minds naturally focus on the task at hand. This sense of presence can be therapeutic, as it allows us to escape from the anxieties and worries in our daily lives. The meditative quality that comes with being lost in the flow of creating can help reduce stress and promote a sense of calm. Research supports this effect. Studies have shown that engaging in creative activities can lower cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress. A 2016 study displayed a statistically significant reduction in cortisol levels among participants after creating art. Additionally, participants reported they found themselves to be in a state of “flow” while engaging in the activity. It seems that the act of creating impacts our minds and bodies, providing a respite from the grind and allowing us a chance to recharge and even to gain a new insight or perspective.
Emotional Expression: Creativity serves as a powerful medium for emotional expression. When we create, we often channel our feelings, thoughts, and experiences into our work. This process can be deeply cathartic, helping us process complex emotions and find closure in challenging situations. For example, many individuals engage in practices of art therapy and music therapy to aid in their healing journey in a variety of settings. For those who struggle with verbal communication or find it difficult to express their emotions openly, creativity provides a non-verbal outlet for self-expression. Research has also shown a significant positive correlation between creative emotional expression and post- traumatic growth. This is important to remember as we navigate our experiences of modern day tragedies. Through art, music, or writing, individuals can convey their emotions in a way that they might not otherwise be able to express.
Social Connection: Creativity can often be a communal experience. Many seek out creative experiences by engaging in classes and groups. Some work on their creative endeavors alone but create community through sharing their work. They might also find inspiration through others who do. However it is done, creativity provides opportunities for individuals to connect with like-minded people who share their interests. Social interactions built around creativity can help combat feelings of isolation and loneliness as well as foster a sense of shared purpose.
Creativity can be a powerful tool for healing and self-discovery. Its therapeutic benefits extend to stress reduction, emotional expression, mindfulness, and social connection. By incorporating creative practices into our lives, we can find an increased sense of overall well-being. Whether we are experienced artists or just looking to explore our creative sides, the healing power of creativity is an accessible way to practice mindfulness throughout your day.
Written by Karina Luis, Gatewell Graduate Practicum Student