SAMU Wellbeing: The Benefits of Creativity

by on Dec 4th, 2020

Wellbeing blogs are written by the SAMU Wellbeing Assistant, Lauren Rundell.

 

Often, creativity is considered something innate in people; we’ve been doing it forever, and it’s something that just kind of naturally happens. Intuitively, most people know on some level that being creative is good for you. There are many different theories as to why creativity is so beneficial to us, including ideas that go back to our evolution as a species, learning to create tools that eventually brought us to where we are now. Some psychologists even theorize that this impulse, the inherent need to create things, is fundamental to human nature.[1] Whether or not creativity is the hallmark of humanity, being creative has numerous positive individual benefits. Generally, it’s agreed that creating can increase positive emotions, decrease the symptoms of depression, reduce stress and anxiety,[2] and other, less quantifiable benefits to overall well-being.[3]

The benefits of creativity can be similar to the benefits of practices like yoga and meditation. When working on a creative project, you enter a state of flow where you focus on one activity for an extended period. Like yoga and meditation, being creative can help you find peace and calm by blocking out external stimuli and being focused on what’s in front of you.[4] Being in this state of flow deactivates our pre-frontal cortex, making us less critical and more courageous to take creative risks and experiment, which boosts our self-image.[5] The act of creating and having a finished product releases pleasure-inducing chemicals into the brain and makes us more likely to continue creating more things.[6] Doing creative things can also help maintain self-identity by allowing us to have an outlet for self-expression and understand ourselves better.[7] It’s worth noting that the cause of these benefits is not the product itself. It is the process of creating something that is beneficial, rather than the quality of the product.

For many people, what’s stopping them from doing creative things isn’t that they don’t know that it’s good for them; it’s usually something else. Most people enjoy being creative but are unlikely to go out of their way to seek a way of doing so because of some sort of resistance. Either you don’t know how or what you want to create, or you’re worried what you’re going to create won’t be “good enough.” “Creativity” has conventionally been a word associated with the fine arts. When you think of “being creative,” your mind probably first jumps to activities like painting, writing, music, and the like – but creativity isn’t limited to just these sorts of activities. Being creative is just the act of creating something, anything. It doesn’t have to be a piece of fine art, and most importantly, it doesn’t even have to be good. The heart of creativity is that you make something, anything at all. You just have to enjoy making whatever it is. Obviously, focusing on the enjoyment of the process rather than the quality of the product is a lot easier said than done. Still, with practice, you can ease yourself into whatever creative endeavour you’re interested in pursuing. By giving yourself the freedom to just be creative without worrying about the result, you can reap all the well-being benefits of creativity.

 

For more info on the benefits of creativity, check out these sources:

 

Brenner, Brad. “Creativity is Your Secret Advantage for Mental-Health and Wellbeing.” Therapy Group of NYC, 16 Sept. 2019. https://nyctherapy.com/therapists-nyc-blog/creativity-is-your-secret-advantage-for-mental-health-and-well-being/#:~:text=Mental%20health%20benefits%20of%20creative%20activities&text=In%202015%2C%20psychologist%20and%20art,even%20improve%20immune%20system%20functioning. Accessed 3 Dec. 2020.

Cohut, Maria. “What are the Health Benefits of Being Creative?” Medical News Today, 16 Feb. 2018, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320947. Accessed 3 Dec. 2020.

Stahl, Ashley. “Here’s How Creativity Actually Improves Your Health.” Forbes, 25 July 2018,  https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2018/07/25/heres-how-creativity-actually-improves-your-health/?sh=2525f8a913a6. Accessed 3 Dec. 2020.

[1] Maria Cohut. “What are the Health Benefits of Being Creative?” Medical News Today, 16 Feb. 2018.

[2] Brad Brenner. “Creativity is Your Secret Advantage for Mental-Health and Wellbeing.” Therapy Group of NYC, 16 Sept. 2019.

[3] Cohut. “What are the Health Benefits of Being Creative?”

[4] Brenner. “Creativity is Your Secret Advantage.”

[5] Brenner. Ibid.

[6] Brenner. Ibid.

[7] Cohut. “What are the Health Benefits of Being Creative?”