If you’re reading as I publish this, apparently since the New Moon just past was in Pisces (don’t ask me, I’m no astrology expert!), this is a great time for harnessing your creative power.
This is interesting, because over the last couple of weeks or so I feel like I have had a whole bunch of creative energy, with a huge influx of ideas for podcast episodes, articles to write, different ways to deliver practical health and wellness education, and even potential solutions to navigating certain obstacles in my life.
But in addition to getting all these ideas coming through, I feel like I have felt an inner pull to direct my energy towards more pursuits which help me to harness and express my creativity.
For me personally those kinds of pursuits are things like podcasting, something I call intuitive baking (whatever feels right, no recipes!), and water colour painting, to name a few things. You can see a few recent things I’ve painted here…
I want to explore creativity a little bit here, starting with explaining what I mean when I say “creativity”.
What is creativity?
I am sure we could go into a deep philosophical exploration about what defines creativity or where creativity comes from, but I’ll keep it to a short summary of my thoughts on this.
Personally, I find that creativity is the generation of novel, different or unique insights, behaviours, or impulses which come about when I am doing anything that encourages my personal expression.
Creativity is something that helps me to ground myself, something that helps bring awareness to myself and where I am, and what I am doing. It therefore helps to calm the mind and make it that little bit easier to deal with life’s challenges.
So in that respect, creativity can help build resilience; resilience to face whatever life throws your way.
Creativity is also something that helps with mental clarity, and when we are in a space where we have that kind of clarity, that is where we can start to generate ideas and insights. So if you find yourself suffering a bit of “writer's block”, or you are trying to do something and are demotivated or a bit stagnant or foggy in the brain, take a step back and pause.
Just stop for a second, take some rhythmic breaths, and genuinely ask yourself what you need. Often it might be rest, food, water, or perhaps a walk. Other times, what you might need is to step away from what you are doing to do something else entirely. Something fun, something enjoyable.
By doing something you enjoy, you can often get the added benefit of gaining some creative insight, so you can come back to what you were doing with fresh eyes (and maybe even some really fantastic ideas).
Now we have briefly explored what I mean when we talk about creativity, let us explore why creativity is an important aspect of health and wellbeing.
Why creativity is important
Harnessing your creative potential is particularly beneficial for your mental health, helping to reduce stress, anxiety, and mood disturbances.
In fact, spending time participating in creative activities during periods of social isolation throughout COVID-19 lockdowns may have been a significant health-promoting factor throughout this stressful time, alongside maintaining social connection and being physically active.
Another benefit of facilitating creative expression is exploring identity.
One study evaluating the impact of creativity through music therapy in cancer care found that feeling “at home” with the creative process (irrespective of any perceived skill or lack of skill with the activity) was what helped people to gain something positive from the experience.
This same study found that people’s unique experiences of the music therapy helped shape their creative identities, particularly if they were the types of people who considered their creativity to be latent.
This is something to note if you feel like you are “not a creative person”. I do feel that all of us are creative in different ways, and creativity does not necessarily have to be something arty or crafty.
I often recommend people try and pursue any kind of activity where they can get their body involved, particularly their hands, as it can really help to focus on whatever it is you are doing.
Tactile experiences can be exceptionally creative.
This could be writing freely such as when journaling, playing an instrument, gardening, knitting, woodworking, or even something as simple as preparing something in the kitchen.
Once you find something you enjoy (that is the most important thing!), you can often find that as you start to get into a rhythm with it, that is when the magic happens.
Ideas start to flow, insights start to come in, perhaps even emotions emerge (hence the term “creative expression”).
Whatever arises and wherever it takes you, just run with it and take what you need from the experience and leave what you don’t.
Creativity is how you express yourself, and there are infinite ways you can do this – I haven’t even touched the surface in this blog!
Finding anything that brings you joy can be a source of creative inspiration
Pursuing creative endeavours regularly is particularly supportive for your mental health
Nurturing your creative energy can help encourage mental clarity, insights, and new ideas
Not only is creativity a great way to look after our mental health, but it can also foster hope and empower us to explore and expand our identities as unique humans. This can in turn help us to gain clarity on what truly aligns with us as individuals.
I think Heather Stuckey and Jeremy Nobel sum it up pretty well in saying, “Through creativity and imagination, we find our identity and our reservoir of healing”.