Creativity: Benefits and Lessons

This weekend I visited some friends who were taking a class on string art.  It goes like this–you hammer nails in a particular shape (like the shape of Ohio) or word, then criss-cross string by wrapping it around the nails and essentially “filling in” the word or picture.  I have done it and found it completely engaging, and I wanted to see if they had a similar experience.  I could tell by their light banter and laughter that they were having a good time.  They beamed with pride as they showed off the completed project.  One friend, who started out somewhat skeptical of his skills, kept exclaiming how much fun it was to create the piece.

What is the last thing you created?  A photograph, a painting, a poem, an art project? I believe being creative can positively impact our wellbeing.  Studies have been done on this topic:

“Most of these studies concur that participation and/or engagement in the arts have a variety of outcomes including a decrease in depressive symptoms, an increase in positive emotions, reduction in stress responses, and, in some cases, even improvements in immune system functioning…Even engagement in the arts as a viewer can have an impact, but if you really want to benefit from the arts for wellness, studies continue to show that your active participation is the best bet (Bolwerk et al, 2014)…In brief, creativity is increasingly being validated as a potent mind-body approach as well as a cost-effective intervention to address a variety of challenges throughout the lifespan…the overall outcomes complement what has been intuited by humans over millennia—that creative expression is good for us in one way or another.”1

Lessons can be learned through creativity as well, as the Ted talk below discusses.  Julie Burstein interviewed many creative people including artists, musicians, photographers and novelists.  The 17 minute talk lists four lessons that were not only interesting, but somewhat surprising as well.  I hope by watching the video you will be inspired to find a creative outlet that resonates with you.  Not only will you create beautiful artifacts, but you will contribute to your overall wellbeing, and maybe even learn a lesson about yourself.  And it’s FUN!

1 https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/arts-and-health/201512/creativity-wellness-practice.  Bolwerk A, Mack-Andrick J, Lang FR, Dörfler A, Maihöfner C (2014) How Art Changes Your Brain: Differential Effects of Visual Art Production and Cognitive Art Evaluation on Functional Brain Connectivity. PLoS ONE 9(7): e101035. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101035.

 

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