I can’t imagine a day without creativity. My imagination has always been bigger than any life I could lead. From the time I was a small child I was writing stories and songs. I was inventing products and putting on variety shows in the neighborhood. I decorated the trees in the backyard and turned it into an amusement park, complete with boat rides down the “river”. And throughout the tumultuous teenage years I learned about the healing power of creativity.
Creativity gives you a sense of purpose
It has been said that Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote was written in prison. I can understand how the confinement of prison could make someone who is already creative a better writer. After all, you have plenty of time on your hands and nothing but your imagination to work with. Dostoevsky had already written his first novel before he was thrown into a Siberian prison camp for 4 years. For a prisoner with no freedom, creativity is the ability to escape and live in other worlds or simply get lost in painting or sculpting. The healing power of creativity helps pass the time and gives a sense of purpose.
Creativity lowers stress
Anyone who has walked through a museum and lost themselves in the art knows that creativity lowers stress. Or listening to music or watching a good movie. But being an active participant is even better. Studies have found that people who keep journals have a stronger immune system and less stress. It’s free and anyone can do it. Just getting the words down on paper help you work through your emotions and the anxiety of the day.
Researchers in a study of HIV patients found that participants that engaged in emotional writing had increased levels of lymphocytes. According to a study in the British Journal of Health Psychology, writing about positive emotions can help to lower stress.
Creativity helps you get over trauma
Most people will experience at least one traumatic experience in their lives. It could be losing a loved one, divorce, life threatening illness, or a near death experience. Trauma shatters your world. Creativity is a way to help the brain make sense of something that seems senseless, like trauma. Research has shown that brain tissue can be damaged by trauma. But when people write down their emotions about the trauma it could be changing the way it’s organized in the brain.
If you think about it, it’s probably similar to talking out your traumatic feelings with a therapist. It’s a good way to get it off your chest by writing it down. They’re your feelings and you can write it any way you want.
Creativity boosts your immune system
All artists know what it means to be “in the zone” creatively. You start working on a painting or a novel or get lost behind the lens of a camera. You’re working towards a sense of accomplishment and it feels good. When you’re in that flow state you feel mindful, relaxed and euphoric. Being focused on a creative task means you’re blocking out the stressful world around you. Being in the flow actually slows down your heart rate. And being less stressed in general helps boost your immune system.