It has been almost a year since I last posted. I have been writing and reading, just not working on this blog as much. I started this blog as a creative outlet, but found myself in a cycle of procrastination and analysis paralysis. I just didn’t know what to write. Sure I could just post the book reviews I have shared with my book group, but I wanted to do more. As I contemplated the reasons for starting this blog, I decided that it would make for a really post, especially with next month being Mental Health Awareness Month.
Stress is a common problem that affects millions of people worldwide. According to the American Psychological Association, stress can lead to a range of physical and mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and cardiovascular disease. While there are many strategies for managing stress, one approach that has gained popularity in recent years is using creativity as a form of stress relief.
There are many benefits of using creativity as a form of stress relief. Here are some of the key advantages:
- Reduces Stress and Anxiety: Engaging in creative activities can help reduce stress and anxiety by promoting relaxation, mindfulness, and a sense of calm. Studies have shown that creative activities such as art therapy, music therapy, and dance therapy can help improve mood, decrease anxiety, and reduce symptoms of depression. Yes, there is also a reason so many people took up baking during the pandemic. It works!
- Improves Focus and Concentration: Creative activities require focus and concentration, which can help you feel more present and centered. When you are fully immersed in a creative project, you are less likely to be distracted by worries and stressors (Check out more info on Flow States if you want to take a deeper dive on this!).
- Boosts Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem: Creating something new and unique can be a rewarding experience that boosts your self-confidence and self-esteem. This can help you feel more positive about yourself and your abilities, which can reduce stress and anxiety.
- Promotes Mindfulness and Meditation: Many creative activities, such as knitting, painting, drawing, and coloring, can be meditative and promote mindfulness. Engaging in these activities can help you focus on the present moment and reduce stress and anxiety.
- Enhances Problem-Solving Skills: Creative activities require problem-solving skills and can help you develop your ability to think outside the box. This can help you approach stressful situations with more creativity and flexibility.
Tips and Techniques for Incorporating Creativity into Your Daily Routine
Here is an example of my own creativity at work. Sometimes I will take an image from a random image search and just sketch it. I even save images that I think will make for cool sketches. Creativity is not about being perfect. It is about expressing yourself. There are many ways that this can be done. Here are some tips on how you can get started:
- Make Time for Creativity: Set aside time each day or each week to engage in creative activities. Treat it as a priority and schedule it into your calendar.
- Start Small: If you are new to creative activities, start small and work your way up. You don’t need to create a masterpiece right away. Begin with simple activities such as coloring or doodling and gradually work your way up to more complex projects.
- Experiment with Different Activities: There are many different creative activities to choose from, such as painting, drawing, writing, singing, dancing, and more. Experiment with different activities to find what works best for you. Not everyone is going to like the same activity and that is okay.
- Join a Creative Group: Joining a creative group, such as a writing group or a painting class, can provide social support and motivation to keep up with your creative pursuits. My local library regularly hosts a Bad Art Night which is a great way to take off the pressure. Most of my groups are online, a simple Facebook search can help you get started.
- Practice Mindfulness: When engaging in creative activities, try to be fully present in the moment and focus on the process rather than the outcome. This can help you reduce stress and anxiety and promote relaxation.
Practicing creativity as a form of stress relief can provide many benefits for your mental health and overall well-being. Whether you enjoy writing, drawing, painting, cooking, or even coding, incorporating creativity into your daily routine can help you reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and concentration, boost self-confidence and self-esteem, promote mindfulness and meditation, and enhance problem-solving skills. So, why not give it a try and see how creativity can benefit your life?
- American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Stress effects on the body. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body
- British Association of Art Therapists. (n.d.). Art Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.baat.org/About-BAAT/About-Art-Therapy
- Fancourt, D., & Finn, S. (2019). What is the Evidence on the Role of the Arts in Improving Health and Well-Being? A Scoping Review. World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/europe/publications/i/item/9789289054553
- Kaimal, G., Ray, K., & Muniz, J. (2016). Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants’ Responses Following Art Making. Art Therapy, 33(2), 74-80. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07421656.2016.1166832
- Koch SC, Riege RFF, Tisborn K, Biondo J, Martin L, Beelmann A. Effects of Dance Movement Therapy and Dance on Health-Related Psychological Outcomes. A Meta-Analysis Update. Front Psychol. 2019 Aug 20;10:1806. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01806.
- The National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). 5 Things You Should Know About Stress. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml
- van der Vennet, R., & Serice, S. (2012). Can Coloring Mandalas Reduce Anxiety? A Pilot Study. Art Therapy, 29(2), 87-92. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07421656.2005.10129441