Did you know that the same chemicals that are released during sex and eating are released when you are engaged in a creative activity?
The reward centre in your brain releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine when you do something pleasurable.
Dopamine acts as a natural anti-depressant, which means getting creative can bring you more joy and lessen anxiety.
Humans are creative creatures. Even those who claim they are not creative probably don’t realise they use creativity every day in their lives.
The salesperson finds creative ways to make his products tempting.
An accountant uses creativity to make the numbers work for her.
A tech genius is creative with coding.
Mums find creative ways to get their children to listen.
When you become mindfully creative you can train yourself to think outside the box and find innovative ways to do things. Read How to Craft Your Way to a Better Life.
CREATIVITY EQUALS HAPPINESS
The key to releasing endorphins and dopamine lies in focussing your attention on the creative task, according to Helen Zigmond, a director of The Institute for Creative Health.
Sustained focused attention reduces the stress hormone cortisol and helps release endorphins and dopamine. Several neuroimmunologists have said that the state of focussed attention found in activities such as yoga, meditation and craft allow you to zoom in and concentrate, which then gives you a sense of wellbeing.
A study conducted by researchers at Otago University showed that those who enjoyed arts, craft and creative hobbies were happier, calmer and more energetic the next day.
This, in turn, was likely to lead to more creativity and therefore, more happiness.
The Art Gallery of New South Wales commissioned a study that found viewing art created a heightened sense of joy for people with dementia.
While dementia impacts memory, emotions remain intact, and the study found art allowed people with dementia to tap into their imagination. It also alleviated anxiety by allowing them to stay in the moment.
A study on people with anorexia nervosa found that performing a visual-spatial task such as knitting helped reduce distressing self-talk and lessened their fears.
CREATIVITY FOR ADULTS
No matter what stage of life you are at, regularly incorporating creative pursuits will dramatically improve your wellbeing.
In my post, How to Help Children Learn Through Creativity, I explained why kids are less creative than they used to be, and the importance of keeping alive the creativity, wonder, awe, and imagination they are born with.
It can be difficult for adults to jumpstart their creativity and imagination, particularly if they believe they do not have the skills.
Self-doubt and fear of failure are sure-fire ways to stop people before they even start.
Just get out of your own way. Open up the pipe and let the creativity flow through. As soon as your ego gets in the way and goes “Oh, I dont know what to do next” you’ve already put eyes in front of it and blocked it a little bit.
The truth is, creativity is not about talent, granted to only a few.
Each and every one of us can enjoy a creative pursuit that will increase our happiness.
CREATIVITY FOR EVERYONE
Even those who have never believed they were creative.
I have a friend, Roslyn Tanner Evans, of Earth and Moon Design, who said she never thought she was creative.
She was a career counsellor for 30 years, working with unemployed professionals.
I was always in my head thinking outside the box, seeking ways to stimulate, motivate, keep self esteem etc.
Even so, Roslyn never considered herself creative, though she loved arts, pottery and glass.
After retiring, Roslyn took a class on stringing beads – and has never looked back.
She started selling her pieces through home parties, then put on a public show. And her business was born.
Her daughter joined her a year later and together they have been creating beautiful, one of a kind, pieces for the past 10 years. They are exquisite and you can see them here.
It took a while for me to accept that I had an eye, a talent and I knew I had the passion.
Roslyn’s biggest tip is to remember that comparison kills creativity.
She was surrounded by talented and artistic friends and felt she would never be up to their standard.
You are never too old to start again or discover another aspect of yourself.
TAP INTO YOUR OWN CREATIVITY
So how do you tap into your own creativity?
The first thing to do is start – anything. It could be knitting, sewing, drawing, painting, sculpting, playing music, cooking, whatever.
You don’t even need to be sure it is something you feel passionate about. How can you know that before you try anyway?
Find a project you like the look of, set aside some time and space and start.
Don’t wait for creative inspiration to hit you. Just start.
THINGS THAT CAN HELP INSPIRE CREATIVITY
A TIRED BRAIN
There is some evidence to suggest that your mind is more open to creative pursuits when you are tired. Why? Because when you are alert you don’t allow your mind to wander into the possibilities and imagination required for creativity.
A BORED BRAIN
The University Of Central Lancaster performed a study where participants were given boring tasks, like copying phone numbers from a phonebook. When tested, divergent thinking was significantly greater in those who first completed the boring task, than the control group, who did not.
It was thought that daydreaming caused by the boring task was the creative catalyst.
A CURIOUS BRAIN
The algorithms on the websites you visit, such as Google and Facebook, have calculated just what to you show you, based on your previous searches. As a result of this people tend to see the same types of things over and over, which can dull the mind and stop you from thinking creatively. To counter this, break free of your normal routine from time to time. Read something you wouldn’t normally be interested in. Listen to a different style of music. Learn something different.
When it comes to creativity, nature is King. If you spend some time quietly watching the amazing things that go on in your garden, or the bush, or a park, you can’t help but be inspired.
Where you choose to be creative can have an effect on how open your mind is to imagination and creativity.
It seems that messy environments tend to inspire breaking free of routine thinking, producing new insights.
An unusual study at the University of Minnesota had groups of students try to come up with new applications for a ping pong ball. One group worked in a really messy room and the other in a highly organised room.
The group who performed in the messy room showed significantly greater creativity than the group in the room that was orderly.
A study by Stanford Graduate School of Education showed that walking dramatically increased creativity.
The benefits of crafting last well beyond the actual time spent creating. Enjoying the finished product, maybe even hearing praise for it from loved ones, ensures those supplies of dopamine just keep on flowing.
Claim your free copy of Draw for Joy – the ultimate guide to art therapy exercises you can do at home and get more creativity tips bi-monthly when you sign up to the Gleeful Greetings newsletter.
Happy crafting and have a gleeful week, Tamuria.