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How Creativity Can Help Your Mental Health

Creativity can help us create a happier, and a more fulfilled life.
It is a form of mindfulness, as engaging in some form of creative activity creates focus, a state of ‘flow’ which is a complete immersive-ness in an activity, and results in a state of clarity, and a sense of serenity. A recent research study also showed that creativity creates happiness and a higher positive effect. The study also found out that the participants were more energetic the day after having carried out a creative activity, and it was like a domino effect, inspiring more creativity. 

Happiness has a domino effect. Creativity has a domino effect. Research has shown that within 45 minutes of doing something creative, the levels of stress hormone cortisol is massively reduced.
Not just making art, but researcher and art historian Jonathan Fineberg also discusses the evolutionary and neurological benefits of looking at art in his latest book ‘Modern Art at the Border of Mind and Brain’. Fineberg discusses that engaging with art can increase the plasticity and connectivity in our brain.  The Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Cultural Value Report states ‘there is clear evidence of an association between arts and culture participation and self-reported subjective wellbeing even when social, economic and lifestyle factors are taken into account’. Although engagement with visual art even as a viewer can help sense of well-being, research has also shown that this can be massively enhanced by active engagement. 
Social Enterprise such as The Art Tiffin advocates the use of creativity to counter the stresses of everyday life, and to make creativity a habit. No one is born un-creative, and creativity is certainly something that can be developed with just 5-10 mins of me-time everyday. We are so surrounded by technology that we do not have time to what is going on inside our heads, to have that serendipitous moment where suddenly a brilliant idea pops up.
Ester Buchholz, a psychologist, psychoanalyst and author of ‘The Call of Solitude’, emphasised the need for some alone time to let our thoughts wander, to figure things out, and to arrive at innovative solutions. Artists and writers such as Bergman and Hemingway have waxed lyrical about the need for this time where you can confront your emotions head on, grapple alone with the feelings and thoughts, live with them without being able to ignore them to create something beautiful and original. Einstein talked about long walks where he could listen to what was going on inside his head, Kafka about sitting still and letting the world unfurl itself at your feet, and Picasso stressed that without loneliness, no serious work is ever possible. 
Being alone doesn’t mean being lonely. Instead it is about putting technology away, engaging with the world around us directly and seeing it with fresh eyes, and doing something tactile and creative with our hands. It is giving ourselves the freedom to daydream.
January is International Creativity Month. #accessoca. @PragyaAgarwal2019.

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Posted by author: Pragya Agarwal
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2 thoughts on “How Creativity Can Help Your Mental Health

  • Definitely true. Solitude not the same as loneliness. In fact ‘loneliness’ is actually a nineteenth century invention as people moved from the country into the emerging cities. It goes hand in hand with modernism. Useful post and therapeutic qualities of all arts can not be stressed enough.

  • As writers and artists, tutors and students, it is wonderful to be able to study and work in the world of the arts, participating as creators and responders. However, our primary concern has to be with the aesthetic and critical side of the arts: therapeutic effects on our well-being and mental health have to be spin-offs not primary goals. And there can be occasions when in fact the rigours of remaking, redrafting, and writing critical commentaries, together with rejections from curators and publishers, may well cause us mental anguish. We have to learn, and it is not always easy, how to make that anguish a productive element in our artistic practice.

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