Creativity As Self-Care
Updated: Feb 16, 2020
Some of you may have read that title and are saying to yourself – “What? I’ve never heard nor thought about being creative as part of caring for myself.” But it is. Self-care encompasses all the things that you do for yourself in service of yourself. People usually think of this as taking a bath, having a glass of wine, having dinner with family or friends or taking a walk; which can all be great ways of engaging in self-care. But I think that engaging in creative activities is a wonderful way of increasing your self-care.
How Creativity Relieves Stress
Self-care is all about decreasing your stress levels so that you can relax and rejuvenate. What better way of doing this than by letting your creativity take center stage? When you engage in activities that spur your creativity your brain gets excited. Your synapses ignite, your neural pathways are boosted, and pleasant memories associated with that creative state are created. Over time, engaging in creative pursuits can lower your stress levels as you give in to joy of creating and just being. There have been studies that show the positive effect of creativity on both the body and the mind such as one published in Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, titled “Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants’ Responses Following Art Making,” that shows how creating art can lower stress by reducing participants levels of cortisol which is one of the key hormones involved in the body’s stress response.
Creativity as self-care helps to elevate one’s mood as your creative pursuits typically take you out of your regular routine. This elevated mood can lead to decreased anxiety which ultimately can contribute to decreased levels of stress.
What Activities Are Creative?
When thinking about creativity as self-care, the actual creative activity can take several forms – writing, art, music – anything that sets your mind free. As a wise unknown person said, “Take time to do what makes your soul happy.” For me it’s scrapbooking.
There’s something about taking paper, pictures and adhesive and creating something beautiful out of nothing that give me great joy. I often scrapbook the travel adventures of me and my husband as we make our way around the globe; but I also enjoy making commissioned pieces on subjects ranging from weddings to pets. When I scrapbook, time stands still, as I get lost in creating and the end result usually fills me with pride. It’s a way for me to decompress and I can feel the stress melting away from my body.
What activity do you enjoy so much that you become lost in it? Whatever it is, the most important thing is the enjoyment that it gives you. If you’re struggling to come up with an activity, consider some of the following:
Paint a picture
Make a greeting card
Learn how to play an instrument
Make a collage out of colored paper
Knit or crochet
Remember, creativity is all about the individual, so if traditional creative pursuits bore you silly, investigate other activities that can provide you with the challenge or excitement that you’re looking for.
Learning how to make craft wine or beer
Make a robot and program it to do tricks
Build a custom car for yourself
Try cooking international dishes
Learn woodcarving and create furniture
Try stand-up comedy or improv
Learn how to DJ
Whatever creative pursuit you decide engage in; the most important thing is to make sure to do it regularly. That’s the key to creativity as self-care – active pursuit of your creativity opens up new avenues of creativity for you as you develop more ideas that help you delve deeper into your activity of choice. It's all about making time.
What creative activity are you going to do as part of your self-care? Let me know in the comments section.
Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a trainer, wellness coach and consultant who believes in empowering her clients and providing the tools that they need to make positive changes in their lives to manage their stress and increase their self-care. In her spare time, she enjoys papercrafting, volunteering and travel. Connect with her on Instagram or Linked/In