How Creativity Can Help Your Mental Health

When there's too much going on in your world, it's easy to slip into a state of feeling overwhelmed. You can't control everything that happens to you, or to people you love, and ruminating on this lack of control can quickly spiral into feelings of helplessness and despair. In such situations, I have found it immensely helpful to instead focus on things that you can control. While we can't always control what's going on around us, we do have a level of control over our own physical state. We can learn to soothe our feelings of distress and become calmer in these moments of anxiety.

One of the greatest tools at our disposal when it comes to regulating our own emotional state, is a tool that we have held from an early age - creativity. For me, I think it's fairly obvious that my creative outlet of choice is designing and making earrings, but for you it might look like something completely different - making music, writing letters, doodling, gardening... Or something else entirely! That's the beauty of it, there are no rules when it comes to our creativity, instead it's an avenue for us to explore a deeply personal connection to ourselves.

Tuning in to our creative energy is good for us on so many levels - it improves our brain function and can help us out in terms of both physical and mental health. But how?

Stress Relief

Getting creative is great for instant stress relief. Physical activities like knitting, painting or writing are often made up of slow, repetitive motions, which helps us to physically calm our nervous system and allow us to relax. Have you ever got so wrapped up in a task that you almost forget where you are? This state of flow can become almost meditative, providing you with a safe space where you can allow yourself to process your thoughts and emotions you might not have even noticed were needing attention.

Cognitive Abilities

The more we repeat a task, the better at the task we become. We learn to get better at it, even if it doesn't feel like it, and even if it's at a very slow pace. Our brains are strengthening those neural connections each time we engage! So while you sing, write, draw, or paint, you're also giving your brain a lovely little training session at the same time. 

Sense of Accomplishment

A lot of our thinking and behaviours can be somewhat explained via the  concept of an internal rewards system - that is, as humans we are likely to repeat the behaviours that make us feel good, and we are likely to avoid behaviours that make us feel bad. Of course that's a very simplified version of the theory.

When we complete a task - no matter what the task is - our brains are flooded with dopamine, one of our 'happiness hormones'. You'll get a feel-good boost just by finishing something! The great news here is that there is no judgement, whatever you have made doesn't need to be 'good' in any sense of the word, it just needs to be finished. Triggering that reward system can help you feel a sense of achievement and accomplishment, boosting your self esteem and contributing to your overall mental wellbeing.

Social Connection

For me, this is one of the biggest benefits that creativity can bring - you can meet so many new people when you pick up something new! Your world can open up, and you can feel a sense of empowerment and connection that you might have been lacking before. Since I started Arias Design Co I've met and spoken to so many people - in Auckland and beyond - about all sorts; earrings, mental health, their families back home... it's been really cool to feel that sense of connection in a world where it's so easy to feel alone.

Fun!

The most important reason - it's just a straight up good time. It's pleasant to get wrapped up in pretty colours, soothing sounds... these things just feel good to be around. And that's reason enough for me.

How do you like to great creative? I'd love to hear about how your creativity helps you!

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