• Shelby Figueroa

Creativity and Mental Wellness

In October, I presented an Open Studio workshop on the meaning of creativity, explored the link between creativity and mental wellness, and provided some practical ways to engage with it. As I have been on my own journey with mental wellness, I have found creativity to be an invaluable resource within myself. This resource is not a rare gift; rather, it is something that we all can access within ourselves. Creativity is more of a lifestyle than an ability, more of an outlook than a skill, and is ultimately a life giving force all can engage with. So, let’s look at some myths and truths about creativity.


Myths and Truths about Creativity


Creativity is not:

  • A rare gift

  • Only artistic expression

  • About being original

  • Supported by the influence of alcohol or marijuana

Creativity is:

  • A life-affirming force

  • Naturally within us, awaiting to be recovered

  • Supportive to a pursuit in well being


One study that supports the idea that creativity is naturally within us is the George Land Creativity Test. The results revealed that non-creative behavior is learned (Land, 1993). So, creativity is naturally within us AND can be recovered. But can creativity actually benefit our mental health?


“Creativity, not normality, has become the paradigm of mental health.” - Stephen Mitchell

Connections Between Creativity And Mental Health

  • Creative “flow” aids in a balanced neurochemistry (Nobel, 2010)

  • Creative expression supports mood regulation and modulating emotions (Garnett, 2019)

  • Creativity helps us cope with stress and anxiety by decreasing cortisol (Kaimal, 2016)

  • Creative reflection and expression can give those with depression a sense of control (Garnett, 2019)

Creativity is naturally within us, and is incredibly healthy for us! So here are a few ways to add this into your life today!


Ways To Support and Engage With Your Own Creativity


Morning Pages and the Artist Date (Cameron, 2002)


Morning pages: Wake up 15 minutes earlier in the morning and write! Practicing “stream of consciousness” (keeping your pen moving, not judging what emerges) can be a great way to express yourself in a safe place. This can be a place to process, imagine, dream, and even complain!


The Artist Date: When was the last time you took yourself on a date? What is something that could bring your inner artist some nurturing? Maybe that's going to the craft store for some new colored pencils or trying a new and exciting restaurant on your own. Maybe its pretending you are a tourist in your own town, and finding your new favorite spot. The possibilities are endless!


Music Therapy

Music therapy can support your self expression through songwriting, instrument play and improvisation. It can also stimulate reflection and introspection through lyric analysis, and musical mindfulness. Everyone can benefit from music therapy, so feel free to contact us with any questions about the music therapy services at Harmonic Changes!

References


Cameron, Julia. The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. , 2002.


Fancourt, D., Garnett, C., Spiro, N., West, R., & Müllensiefen, D. (2019). How do artistic creative activities regulate our emotions? Validation of the Emotion Regulation Strategies for Artistic Creative Activities Scale (ERS-ACA). PloS one, 14(2), e0211362. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0211362 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6363280/


George Land and Beth Jarman, Breaking Point and Beyond. San Francisco: HarperBusiness, 1993)


Girija Kaimal, Kendra Ray & Juan Muniz (2016) Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants' Responses Following Art Making, Art Therapy, 33:2, 74-80, DOI: 10.1080/07421656.2016.1166832


Stuckey, H. L., & Nobel, J. (2010). The connection between art, healing, and public health: a review of current literature. American journal of public health, 100(2), 254–263. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2008.156497