When you hear the phrase creative person, what pops in your mind? Do you think of an artist or graphic designer? Do you think of yourself as a creative individual? I’ve got a secret for you…you are creative.
I’ll never forget my dad pulling out a big tub of keepsakes from the hall closet. One of the folders in the tub read “Maddie’s Art Gallery, Showcased”.
“Here it is..”, I thought. “Proof of my artistic genius…maybe I was born to be an artist!”. With big expectations, I opened the folder of what would certainly be my future calling come to a realization. What was inside?
As a first-grader, these were works of art. At least, that’s what my art teacher said. As an adult, these were borderline comical and cute at best.
I’m sure I’ve come a long way since then. Let me give it a shot. The next week was spent drawing random doodles and Youtubing “Drawing for Beginners”. All this effort was put into re-discovering my calling to be an artist. Only to find that I was most definitely, NOT an artist. I remembered trying out my hand at sketches in middle school and I think that’s when I started boxing myself into a non-creative box.
I thought that if I couldn’t draw, or paint, or make visual art, it meant I wasn’t creative.
And I think a lot of people fall victim to this kind of thinking.
But the truth is, everyone is creative!
We use our minds every day to create thoughts, responses, words, products, etc. We help kids with homework and create a space for them to learn. We try out new recipes and create delicious meals or poor-tasting disasters. We create interaction with others through relationships at home, in the workplace, and beyond.
CREATIVITY IS PART OF OUR NATURE
Creativity is essential to our personal development; it’s woven into the very fiber of our beings. I believe people were made in the likeness of God, the ultimate Creator. To create is to partake in this likeness. When we allow ourselves the space to let our creative juices flow, we can experience a sense of freedom and inner peace as we step more into our true identity as co-creators. Creating allows us to focus on internal intuition and helps us not allow external stimuli to deter us from being who we were made to be- creative, lively beings.
CREATIVITY IS GOOD FOR YOU
Neuroscientists have studied different forms of creativity and have found that a variety of activities, such as photography, art, cooking, music, cake decorating, and more, are beneficial to your health. When we engage in forms of creativity, our brains release nature’s antidepressant- dopamine. When we focus on creative expression, we feel good, alleviate some stress, even settle anxiety.
Creativity can help us manage and reduce stress, support brain function, and benefit overall health. Research has shown a correlation between creative activity and stress levels. Take, for example, this study. found that after 45 minutes of creative activity, people experienced significantly less stress (cortisol) in the body. In fact, about 75 percent% of participants displayed lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone). And they didn’t even have to be professional artists!
Some studies have shown that forms of creativity, like writing, not only help us memorize things better but can be effective in managing chronic pain for some (1) and supporting immune system function (2).
Creativity allows us to focus and express ourselves bringing a sense of fulfillment and peace. There’s nothing more grounding than making the time and space to create.
CREATIVITY LOOKS DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE
The beautiful thing about creativity is, well, you can get creative with it! Just because you can’t draw doesn’t mean you aren’t creative.
Movement, activity, art, building relationships, writing, singing, planning, playing, cooking, problem-solving… these are all forms of creative expression! Get creative and think outside of the box. Just because you can’t paint a perfect scenery or decipher your stick figure drawing from your toddler’s stick figure drawing doesn’t mean you aren’t creative.
“But I don’t have time for creative outlets…”
For too long, I didn’t have a form of creative outlet. As a stay-at-home-mom that was also working to overcome health issues and awful anxiety, I didn’t have the time. Correction- I didn’t think I had the time. But that’s because I wasn’t thinking outside of what I considered to be “creative”. It wasn’t that I wasn’t a creative individual. It’s that I set limitations on what I perceived to be considered creative.
The truth is there are SO many ways you can step into your own creative expression that don’t require you to even step foot outside of the house. Creativity can take the shape of the clay in your hands and also in the way you pair earrings with your blouse. Creativity can look like making an inviting, hospital environment in your home. It can be in the way you pack your child’s lunch box (or snack basket), or in the way you invest in yourself and create space for emotional and mental processing.
You, friend, were born to create in your own way! And it’s a beautiful thing when you do. I learned that creating a connection is a form of creativity that I LOVE. Connecting in person and on this platform makes my heart happy.
Having a hard time feeling that creative spark? HERE ARE 15 WAYS TO GET CREATIVE.
1. Switch up your wardrobe. Come up with three outfit styles to wear this week (even if you’re not leaving the house).
2. Set a timer for five minutes and write. Don’t think about it, just write what comes to mind.
3. Try a new recipe for dinner or make your own dish out of anything left in the pantry.
4. Try a new form of movement. Sign up for an online class, try a new stretch, or switch up the exercise routine.
5. Color! Print off a coloring page online or pick yourself up an adult coloring book.
6. Create a vision board. A vision board is a tool you can use to clarify and keep the focus on your goals. It can be on a piece of paper, poster board, or digital. Print, draw or cut out pictures of things that represent goals you have this season.
7. Talk with a friend and create conversation and relationships.
8. Do a 365 Photography Project. Take one photo every day of something you enjoy or that inspires you. This helps you see the beauty in each day. You don’t need a fancy camera…use your phone!
9. Invent a new sandwich. Seriously, try it.
10. Listen to a new podcast, watch a Ted Talk, or read something new.
11. Build a Lego or block city with your kid(s).
12. Rearrange your furniture, move the pillows around, or change up the coffee table items. Create a different feel to your home and embrace your inner interior designer.
13. Take a new route to the grocery store or on your walk.
14. Write a poem using Emojis and text it to a friend or family member. Ask them if they can interpret what it says.
15. Get virtual with it- Blog your personal journey or create fun graphics using a resource like Canva.com. Share them!
How are you gettin’ your creative groove on today, friend?
Girija Kaimal. (2019)Adaptive Response Theory: An Evolutionary Framework for Clinical Research in Art Therapy. Art Therapy 36:4 pages 215-219.
(1) Graham, J.E., Lobel, M., Glass, P. et al. Effects of written anger expression in chronic pain patients: making meaning from pain. J Behav Med 31, 201–212 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-008-9149-4
(2) Petrie KJ, Fontanilla I, Thomas MG, Booth RJ, Pennebaker JW. Effect of written emotional expression on immune function in patients with human immunodeficiency virus infection: a randomized trial. Psychosom Med. 2004;66(2):272–275. DOI:10.1097/01.psy.0000116782.49850.d3