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.
Roslyn Tanner EvansApril 18, 2017 at 11:34 pm
I so appreciate being quoted as an example of finally tapping into my own creativity. Since becoming a jewelry designer I find I can fix things I knew I couldn’t in the past. I still think out of the box & broader. It has expanded the last decades of my life.
tamuriaApril 19, 2017 at 2:06 pm
You are such a wonderful example of this Roslyn and it was a joy using your story and quotes to help make my point.
Lori EnglishApril 20, 2017 at 7:40 am
Great article its true that if you are doing something creative can help with anxiety. I am all for doing things to decrease the anxiety and just living life to the fullest. My articles are geared towards helping others that are really struggling with anxiety . Thanks for your article, love it. Lori English
tamuriaApril 20, 2017 at 8:04 am
Anything we can do to reduce anxiety is a wonderful thing, Lori, as your articles often explain. I’m glad this resonated with you.
Reba LinkerApril 21, 2017 at 3:22 am
Creativity = Happiness
There is so much truth in that statement, Tamuria! Creativity is, indeed, part of our essence. Thanks for such a beautiful reminder to get out and play!
tamuriaApril 22, 2017 at 10:28 am
I love spreading the word about the benefits of tapping into creativity, Reba. A lot of people let the lack of time and confidence hold them back from this wonderful source of happiness.
Beverley GoldenApril 21, 2017 at 4:49 am
As you know, Tami, I truly believe that everyone is creative and has an inner artist just waiting to be unleashed! It is sad to think that so many people keep their creativity inside, not even thinking they ARE creative! Imagine what the world is missing. I loved reading that exposing people with dementia to art can help stimulate their memories and imagination, as I know they are using music in a very similar way. I do find when I am tired, I am definitely not creative, although if I am a bit bored, somehow ideas seem to flow. Of course nature and living in wonder also are creative stimulators for me…and everyone. Lastly, how lovely that you used Roslyn as a shining example of how creativity is not restricted to a few or to those of a certain age, but that creativity is truly there to be unleashed at any age or stage of life! Thanks for sharing these ideas with the world!
tamuriaApril 22, 2017 at 10:31 am
I know we both benefit from the beauty of tapping into our creativity, Beverley and share a hope that many more people will do this for their own happiness and for what they can contribute to our world. Roslyn really is a shining example of one who took the leap and recreated her life.
CandessApril 22, 2017 at 1:51 am
What a beautifully written blog on creativity! People’s responses to adult coloring books really proves your point. I have a large basket with creative projects for my granddaughter at my house. She is working on cross-stitch now. It is also a great way for children (and adults) to transition from a busy day to relaxing.
tamuriaApril 22, 2017 at 10:33 am
So true, Candess, that creativity is also a form of relaxation and can lead you to a peaceful place. The adult colouring books really opened possibilities for those who hadn’t considered spending time on creative pursuits.
Julie MaloneyApril 23, 2017 at 2:51 am
I really enjoyed reading your article Tamuria. I always new creativity was good for depression and anxiety but I had never really looked in to the scientific basis behind it.
My dad has always been an artist and I dabbled a bit with it when I was in my teens. Recently I decided I was going to explore my creative side a little bit more and started doing pet portrait pictures using pastels. I have a long way to go to get to my dad’s standard but I’m absolutely loving it and learning from him.
tamuriaApril 26, 2017 at 7:49 am
The pet portrait pictures sound so interesting, Julie. It is wonderful you have had the benefit of your Dad’s influence to encourage your creativity.
Tandy ElisalaApril 24, 2017 at 2:19 pm
I love that you included Rosyln in your article as an example of creativity and resourcefulness. I am learning to be more creative as I really believe you hit the nail on the head with how and why exercising creativity is important for our minds, and for our overall peace and happiness.
tamuriaApril 26, 2017 at 7:51 am
It’s great to hear you are exploring how to bring more creativity into your life Tandy. Roslyn really is a shining example of how to do this, even when you don’t at first think you are creative.
Jennifer QuisenberryApril 25, 2017 at 10:31 am
I think all of us are creative, just some of us are allowed and encouraged to nurture that side to us more than others. I really like how you opened up possible paths to creativity that may make it easier for some to indulge. It’s such a worthwhile endeavour, and I get so much joy from my creative pursuits. It can certainly be like a high.
tamuriaApril 26, 2017 at 7:53 am
That’s so true, Jennifer. Some really are not encouraged to nurture their creative side and it is more difficult to kick start later in life. That’s one of the reasons I love to promote this in kids as they will be able to tap into it all their lives.
Alene GeedApril 26, 2017 at 12:42 am
I am aware that creativity is a stress reducer. Now I know why. Interesting that I was always considered creative in my business job..though I personally never thought so. Once I discovered jewelry design I KNEW without a doubt that I was creative. As you pointed out, We do need to look beyond the arts and crafts when defining creativity
tamuriaApril 26, 2017 at 7:55 am
I think there are a lot of people who are very creative in their jobs, Alene but do not see it if their job isn’t somehow related to the arts.
Joyce HansenApril 26, 2017 at 7:56 am
Tami, so many of us do not think of ourselves as being creative because we are always comparing ourselves to others is so true. In college in order to graduate I had to take an art class. I thought it was going to be a nightmare and actually, I found that I was much better at it than I thought. The anxiety about being able to be artistic was greater than the peace of mind I encountered when I was creating. Now, I get to channel some of that creativity into my blog. Great brain explanations by the way.
tamuriaApril 27, 2017 at 9:17 am
I think comparing ourselves to others is the biggest stumbling block for adults to tap into their creativity, Joyce. That, and the need for perfection which, of course, doesn’t exist. So glad you have moved on from that place where the anxiety about being able to be artistic was greater than your peace of mind.
Lorii AbelaApril 26, 2017 at 9:16 am
A curious brain and nature are my favorites over here in this list. I believe that for me I have always been more curious on anything foreign and for that reason, I love traveling. I can also be happy with exploring nature from the bottom up.
tamuriaApril 27, 2017 at 10:19 am
Yes, I believe having a curious mind means you are more open to all the creative opportunities there are. Nature tops the list for inspiration for me.
Apolline AdijuApril 27, 2017 at 2:42 am
I know we all have a degree of creativity in us. I do not excel when it comes to graphics and design, but I love watching photography and artwork. It always gives me a feeling of peace and lets my mind and imagination wander away!
tamuriaApril 27, 2017 at 10:20 am
Wonderful when art can inspire your imagination to fly, isn’t it Apolline?
Cathy SykoraMay 6, 2017 at 5:36 am
That’s so interesting, the quip about the ping pong ball. I guess clutter can benefit us in the end! Creativity is like medicine to a bored mind, and when I’m tired my writing definitely comes from angles that my normal day to day mind might not have stumbled upon. Great read, Tamuria!
tamuriaMay 6, 2017 at 2:44 pm
So glad this resonated with you, Cathy. It’s often when you least expect it that the most unique and creative ideas will hit you. I love “creativity is like medicine to a bored mind”.