22. Mental Health Benefits of Creativity
Show Notes
In this episode, I talk about the amazing mental health benefits of creativity. There are so many ways creating can boost your mental health and improve your life! I will discuss a huge variety of different benefits all backed by evidence from verified medical studies. Creative activities are proven to make you feel better and improve your quality of life. Discover the benefits today!


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Episode Transcription:
[00:00:00] Welcome, I'm Kristi Backman and this is my podcast Cultivating Creativity. It's about helping you build your creative life. Giving creatives a way to make space for artistic growth, through the insights of an artist, art instructor, and a creativity coach about the creative process and living that crazy creative life.

[00:00:29] In this episode, I talk about the amazing mental health benefits of creativity. There are so many ways creating can boost your mental health and improve your life. I will discuss a huge variety of different benefits, all backed by evidence from verified medical studies. Creative activities are proven to make you feel better and improve your quality of life! 

[00:00:53] Many discount creative activities as a hobby, but they're really so much more. There is power in creativity. And if you know me, you know, I come from an academic background. So, after listening to this podcast, go to my website and download my resources. 

[00:01:14] First, creative activities, engage the mind. Researchers have discovered that people who engage in artistic activity. In both middle and older age, we're 73% less likely to have memory and thinking problems such as mild cognitive impairment that lead to dementia. 

[00:01:36] That's incredible. I know so many people have concerns about this. And this is a wonderful way to keep our minds sharp and engage. Towards the end of life, art and creativity can offer a path in opening up the windows to people's emotional interiors. It's a way to connect different parts of the brain. You're connecting your physical moment to moment experience with perhaps things that you've done in the past. Other experiences, other emotions, and it creates a very powerful network within the brain. 

[00:02:13] Another benefit is it relieves anxiety and stress. Creative activities reduce the levels of cortisol, a chemical in your body released in response to stress. When you get stressed out, our body's flood with cortisol. And while helpful when running away from large predators, in today's modern world this usually just creates a stressful stew in our body, that just festers until it slowly dissipates. However, working on a creative activity Can actually lower those levels of cortisol and help us reduce that level of stress in the body and begin to relax. 

[00:02:54] Creativity can also improve mood and combat depression. During creative activities, the brain releases the feel-good chemicals of endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. This makes us feel comfortable, relaxed, and happy, inspiring feelings of wellbeing. So not only are the stress levels being physically reduced, but our feel-good chemicals are being increased. And so, it's a very positive shift within our internal chemical balances. 

[00:03:28] Creativity can also alleviate burnout. When you're feeling overwhelmed or burned out, taking some time for art activities can help clear your mind and restore your sense of balance. It gives you the sense of control. Often feelings of burnout are tied to a lack of control. You're having to do this, that, and the other. You are pulled in a million directions and you just feel like you have no more to give. Creative activity actually gives to you. It brings back energy into the system. It gives you some control over the process. And in return, it helps restore that sense of balance and can just make you feel better about things. It doesn't actually take away the fact that you have a million other things in your life. But it is giving you something that can be very rewarding and energy building. 

[00:04:24] Creativity can also enhance your self-confidence. Researchers found that just 45 minutes of free art making was enough to improve a person's confidence. Participants in this study reported a 73% increase of self-confidence. Creating comes from you. It grounds you in your own experience. These results are very similar to what I just presented about burnout. So often in our life, we're doing things for other people, working within systems other people have created, and there's nothing wrong with that. But doing something that you yourself are making, that authenticity of self, it grounds you in your experience and it solidifies your identity and that results in just more self-confidence just feeling more grounded within yourself. 

[00:05:19] So often in our busy, busy lives we feel like a very small part in a very large machine. Focusing on something that we are creating and the only person that can do that is us, really helps affirm that sense of individuality and identity. And that again, feeds into our sense of confidence. 

[00:05:43] Creativity also boosts intelligence. Creativity is the highest form of intelligence Because it goes beyond knowledge recall and extends into knowledge creation. We get this information from the National Institute of Play. Being able to create information is a whole different aspect of intelligence. 
[00:06:07] As you know from doing any activity, the more you practice, the better you get. That could be sports. It could be playing a musical instrument or learning a new language. The more you practice, the more efficient you get. And so that also translates to creativity. The more you practice creativity. It begins to enhance those problem-solving skills and boosts your overall intelligence. 

[00:06:33] This also. relates to how creativity elevates, problem solving and satisfaction. Creative thinking connects left and right brain functions. It engages the whole brain. This is another way that it works to boost our intelligence. And solving a problem is simply satisfying, which increases our overall happiness and sense of confidence. Have you ever been working on a problem and then you figure out that solution? That feels so good! And that feeling is creative problem solving. And that equals a sense of confidence and satisfaction. Which is so incredibly rewarding. 

[00:07:14] Creativity also creates a flow state. Psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls, the flow state, an optimal sense of arousal that is characterized by being completely absorbed and focused on the activity at hand. It's the opposite of being in conflict or feeling stuck. When we're really just completely immersed in a process it's incredibly pleasurable. So in this state, we are more mindful and relaxed, and this allows us to feel more positive and it brings a sense of accomplishment. People who experienced this flow report higher levels of creativity, productivity, and happiness. 

[00:07:57] And finally creativity is a really powerful way to help us process trauma. Creativity gives us a way to express our emotions and process traumas that we can't otherwise express. Channeling that into art may allow you to process and even release a thought, a memory and experience that's really causing you to suffer and causing you pain. It's not going to take that pain away. But there is something about creating about an experience that creates a sense of release. That self-expression is so powerful. It can help people understand your experience. Or it's just a way for you to release some of that pain. And let it outside of your body. 

[00:08:43] When you're using art in more of a therapeutic way, it's important to release expectations of the finished product. It's not so much about what you end up with. It's about the process of creating, of making, of tackling whatever emotions are coming up during this process. And the societal expectation of the result really is inconsequential at this point. So let that expectation go. That's not really the point. The point is that it's an enjoyable experience for you. That you are getting something out of it mentally, physically, and emotionally. It's a different way to think about art and creating. 

[00:09:32] And if you don't believe me, look at all of the art across time, across cultures that explore the depth of the human experience. So, think of this as part of a healing process and don't be so tied to the physical results when you're done. Now saying that you may love what you come up with I’m just telling you to release those exterior expectations as you work on creating because that's really not the inspiration point for making the work.

[00:10:07] So, you can see through all of these different benefits the power creativity really holds for us if we choose to engage that power. I hope you found this helpful, that it opens your eyes to the importance of creativity It's not just a hobby It's a way to improve your life. Plus, it's just a lot of fun. Make sure to check out my website for the resources I referred to in this episode. And start creating today! 

[00:10:36] if you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to my podcast. You can also follow me on social. Until next time! 


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