Far too many people believe creativity is something you either leave behind in grade school or you attain some kind of innate mastery of early on and devote your life to. But creativity should be a part of everyone’s life. Even if you’re not Picasso, the psychological benefits of practicing art are well documented.
Making art is meditative and gets you into the “flow.” The flow, as defined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is a state of singular focus. People get into the flow when they’re meditating, exercising, or workings on a creative endeavor. It’s a very emotionally healthy space to be in.
Practicing music is a known brain booster. Understanding the intricacies of music has been shown to improve cognitive function. Elderly people who practice music have shown to enhance the quality of their lives.
Writing our problems as stories makes them more manageable. A study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology did a test where people wrote about difficulties in 15 minute increments. The participants were more emotionally available and were able to deal with their problems more effectively.
Mindless doodling helps focus your brain. In a great article in the Atlantic on the benefits of doodling, a study discovered that people who doodled aimlessly for a bit were able to recall information on a surprise memory test with 29% more clarity.
Making art heals sadness. Art has long been known to have a therapeutic effect on people. In a study, they had participants watch a sad documentary. Afterward, some groups participated in a creative exercise and the other sat with their feelings. Guess which group felt better afterward?
Creating visual art improves the connections in our brains. Working on visual art puts the brain into a state similar to daydreaming, where the connections in our brains become stronger.
Making art reduces stress and anxiety. In the journal Art Therapy, participants in a study found that cortisol - the chemical associated with stress - decreased in the bodies of people who had been working on something creative.
So there you go. Pick up some drawing paper or a notepad and go to town. I learned how to sketch from Youtube tutorials. Here’s one of my faves.