Written by Francine Baffa, LICSW, BCBA-D
Edited by Joe DeNoon
“Practicing creativity is like a healthy diet and a steady workout routine.”
In his book, The Creative Cure, author and creative coach Jacob Nordby discusses creativity, and the practice behind it, as a method of caring for your well-being.
“Every human being is creative, and having a regular creative practice is a vital key to a happy and fulfilling life.” If we don’t exercise our creativity regularly, our lives can feel dull, stagnant, and rote. Many people live this way and believe “this is just the way life is,” without realizing that developing a regular creative practice can be the cure to what ails them.
Creativity is a uniquely human power, transforming everything one touches into the art of your own design. Many people believe that creativity is limited to artistic pursuits like painting, writing, sculpting, and so forth, and that a responsible adult spends the bulk of their waking hours “uncreatively.” Accepting this limited definition of creativity is to miss the full magic it offers us, tapping into creative energy is one of the keys to a happy and fulfilling life. Research continues to show evidence towards this claim, with studies on creativity demonstrating it minimizes anxiety, promotes self-esteem, and connects us with others.
- Minimize Anxiety.
One reason why being creative helps relieve stress and relax your mind is because it is a form of mindfulness.
- Promote self-esteem.
The creative process can give you a feeling of self-accomplishment and heighten your feelings of self-appreciation and confidence.
The inherent value of the process is what should be focused on — not whether you think you’re “good” at art or not. The exciting part is developing your skills and finding your own groove to get your artwork to where you want it to be.
- Connect with Others
When you show others your art, you’re showing them a piece of yourself. You’re opening yourself up to dialogue and deeper reflection as you look at your work from an outsider’s perspective. You allow others to understand your point of view. This cyclical relationship between creators and their artworks encourages empathy and thoughtfulness within our communities. It establishes a greater sense of support for one another.
Some ways to engage in creative activities:
- Draw or Paint – There is a lot of healing power in making art. Activities like drawing and painting can relieve stress and symptoms of depression, as well as improve memory and resilience in older adults.
- Engage with Music – Music is a bonding method. When we harmonize or sync with others musically, we develop more positive feelings towards them. Singing can raise levels of oxytocin in both amateur and professional singers.
- Story-tell– This can have long-lasting psychological and developmental benefits by exploring imagination and creativity, allowing us to express ourselves and develop self-confidence.
- Naturalize – Nature provides positive stimuli for enhanced creativity – disconnect and immerse yourself in the green!
I know this from my own experience working with a teen client. I encouraged her to use art and drawing to visually express their family challenges and the developmental issues that brought them to the alternative school setting. Communicating these kinds of issues safely and nonverbally helped her make adaptive choices as they moved through the semester.