Have you noticed how popular adult coloring books have become? There are entire book sections at at bookstores dedicated to adult coloring, learning calligraphy, and “how to draw.” Creative hobbies seem more popular than ever. As a therapist, I am excited by the trend! Research has made positive connections between creativity and mental health for many years, and more benefits are being discovered.
Engaging in creative activities allows our brains to release dopamine, which is known to increase mood. In addition to being a mood booster, creativity has the potential to reduce stress and anxiety, decrease depressive symptoms, strengthen concentration, and evoke a sense of accomplishment. Even physical health is positively affected by creativity. Research has shown that engaging the mind through creative outlets may strengthen the immune system and decrease illness in old age.
Sounds pretty great, but I’m sure some of you are thinking, “I’m just not a creative person.” You don’t have to be a “creative person” to engage in creative expression! Creative activities can range from art to cooking to music and dancing. Some people may get creative decorating cupcakes, whereas others might choose to garden or use the adult coloring books.
You’re probably also trying to figure out how to squeeze another activity into the midst of your busy life. You don’t have to spend hours of your time to be creative! Even saving 15 minutes for creative expression offers benefits to mental well-being. Though, when you find a creative activity you enjoy, the time may pass quicker than you realize!
Remember, there’s not a right way to be creative. The goal of finding your creative niche is to find something you can become interested and immersed in. Be open-minded and patient with yourself as you figure it out. Focus on the process rather than the product. Try out different activities. You may already have an idea or interest in mind, or if you’re looking for something new, check out this list for ideas!
Written by Taylor Walker, Ed.S.