March 21, 2023
I struggle with the winter time. Short days and limited outdoor activities are a mental and physical challenge for me, but this year I really tried to lean into the winter in a different way, and in doing so, I discovered how creativity improves mental wellness. I vowed to myself I would get cozy, hibernate a little, and try to lean into what the season is meant for. Wishing away the gray days wasn’t working for me anymore, and it felt a little wasteful to discount that time as anything that could bring forth something pleasant.
One of the best things that grew from befriending the season was that the time spent inside – literally indoors, but also figuratively with my inner self through deep reflection – was my reignited passion for not only expressing myself creatively but experiencing others’ creativity.
In the past, creativity has come to me in the form of innovation, strategy, problem solving and creation of workshops and business offerings – maybe a slightly more masculine-involved form than what I’m experiencing currently. Lately, creativity has been manifesting itself in the form of writing and sound healing. What I’ve found is, regardless of how creativity comes to life, it connects me to who I am at my deepest core. It roots me in my deepest truth, connects me to my authenticity, and allows me to better understand myself, so I can more joyfully experience the world around me.
I had a brainstorm with our artist in residence the other day, and I found myself giddy and lit up with excitement from our planning of the community art piece. Really enjoying this feeling of fulfillment, I pondered ‘what is it about creativity that makes me feel like this?’
Here are 4 ways creativity improves mental wellness:
- Creativity doesn’t lie to you. If a piece of art, a poem, or whatever you’re doing creatively lights you up in an inexplicable way, it means that it is speaking to a part of your soul. Not necessarily your thinking brain, but to something way deeper. How fascinating it is to explore that level of depth!
- When you are fully immersed in creativity – your own output or others’ – you are forced to be fully present in the moment. When you are truly present, you are able to tune into your whole self in that solitary moment. When you can do that, you can understand more about how you’re feeling and what you need.
- When you can connect creatively, you can move emotions and meaning through you in ways that sometimes can’t be described with conversation only.
- Flow and creativity are linked, but I don’t know which one comes first. When you are in a creative mode, you are more in flow (and vice versa). When you are truly in flow, your subconscious helps you make decisions that align with your intentions. Before you know it, you’re living more purposefully every day.
Something I can’t express enough is that you don’t have to be a Pulitzer prize winner, a professional, or even a “good” artist in any way to exercise creativity. For decades, I believed I simply wasn’t creative, that I shouldn’t even try to exercise that part of my brain. I learned that was a lie I was telling myself, and when I started to remember some of the creative outlets I loved as a kid, and started practicing them again, a whole new level of relief and release opened up to me.
A few years ago I began a consistent journaling practice. Last year I amped it up with a poetry masterclass, and then sound practitioner training, which, in tandem, has opened up a whole new way to express myself and communicate to others. I don’t know if I’ll ever share my poems with anyone, nor the written intention that goes behind each sound bath (I don’t want to ruin the magic). But that’s not what it’s about.
When I started writing again I became happier, more present, and more inspired by what might have been previously thought of mundane things happening around me. Creativity fosters connection with yourself and with others. Connection fosters ideas that feel like little hits of dopamine. And to me, that makes the world feel like a better place to be.
I’ll leave you with a little inspiration from Jungian author, Helen Luke:
Here is a great truth, which is valid at every stage of the quest. If we refuse, or are not able to express, to make actual in some form or other our vision, such as it is at any point, then we are not only unable to go forward to the next step but we are probably in for a regression. For instance, a dream or vision will retreat again into the unconscious and have no substance unless written or perhaps painted – made visible, audible, or tangible in some way – [then] shared with one another and attended to so that it alters our attitude.