As a child, we were creative for most parts of the day shaping clay, drawing, building forts, engaging in imaginative role-play with toys, and galloping around the house on pretend horses. Even as a teen, writing in a diary, starring in a school play, taking up photography, and all that daydreaming, we engaged in much-needed creative outlets.

Adulthood, however, has stifled this spontaneous pull toward creativity. The mindless daily repetition of work, children, and families, commuting, endless chores and errands has left us rather wilted and faded our natural creativity.

WATCH: The benefits of creativity

But I can’t even draw a stick man!

Although there are very talented and successful artists, musicians and writers, creativity is not necessarily about having talent but rather creating space for imaginative thought.

Think gardening, sewing, and knitting, renovating furniture, cooking and baking, and building puzzles. It is something that you are interested in, learn more about and engage with at least once a week. You are not choosing a career path with your activity, so finding a creative outlet is far easier than you think.

Beat the fear of failure of not being the best calligraphist, guitar player or hip-hop dancer the world has ever seen, and simply engage in your activity for the joy of it.

Read: The epic formula for creativity

The benefits of creativity

Creativity has an important role to play in our mental health and well-being. It helps us to find meaning, a sense of purpose and offers an escape from daily hassles through total absorption whilst engaging in the activity.

Moments of creativity:

• reduce stress and anxiety,
• lowers blood pressure,
• improve our immune system,
• increase positive emotions,
• helps process trauma,
• foster happiness and optimism.

Creating something requires concentration and being in the moment, giving us a much-needed break from multitasking. When you get absorbed in creative activities you enter a state of “flow” when everything else seems to “disappear”.

The neurological benefit is linked to changes in the left prefrontal cortex of the brain which temporarily deactivates, rendering us more resilient and less critical, in a similar way as does meditation. Whilst being creative our brainwaves slow down, forming original thoughts and large quantities of endorphins and dopamine are released – the pleasure and satisfaction-induced chemicals that enhance our sense of well-being and improve motivation.

WATCH: The mindset of motivation

Creativity is therapeutic and a form of self-care through:

  • Emotional expression and processing. Engaging in creative activities provides an outlet for expressing and processing complex emotions. It can be particularly beneficial for individuals who struggle to articulate their feelings or working through trauma.
  • The practical process. The physical act stretches and exercises the brain stimulating us to be more creative and to exercise control. For example, recognising and playing with colour, challenges us to be completely absorbed in the task, freeing us from distractions and allowing us to enter a state of relaxation and connection with ourselves.
  • Stress reduction. Immersing oneself in a creative endeavor can lead to a state of flow – where one becomes fully absorbed and focused on the task at hand. This state of flow redirects attention away from worries and negative thoughts.
  • Boosting self-esteem and confidence. Accomplishing and completing creative tasks can enhance self-esteem and confidence by providing a sense of achievement and validation of one’s abilities.
  • Increased problem-solving skills. Creativity involves thinking outside the box and finding novel solutions. It helps to foster a more flexible and adaptable mindset – a growth mindset.
  • Enhanced cognitive function. Regularly participating in creative activities improves cognitive functions such as attention, memory, and mental flexibility.
  • Social connection. When engaging in creative activities in a group setting such as pottery, a cooking or crochet class, we experience friendship, affirmation, support, a sense of belonging and sharing.

READ: How to practice self-care

Find your natural high

Our brain reacts to creative pursuits similarly as when we engage in activities that promote finding happiness, calm and groundedness such as meditation, mindfulness, and yoga. By blocking out external distractions, worries and responsibilities, we find joy, and contentment and experience a natural ‘high’.

  • Embrace curiosity. Cultivate a curious mindset and be open to exploring new ideas and experiences. Ask questions and seek out new knowledge in areas that interest you.
  • Schedule time to be creative. Make creativity a regular part of your routine even if it is just a few minutes every morning to doodle or a few minutes in the evening to play an instrument.
  • Remove self-judgment. Creativity is a process, and not everything needs to be perfect! Don’t be overly critical of your efforts.
  • Create a creative space. Have a toolbox you can easily access with everything you need to be creative, or if you are able to, have a special corner, desk, or room for your hobbies.
  • Engage in diverse activities. Before investing in everything you need to for example create a mosaic, rather start small. Try out various forms of creativity by attending a workshop or purchasing a single kit. By starting slow and exploring your options you will soon discover your passion.
  • Collaborate and seek feedback. Creating with others has a dual benefit – the social interaction, but also fresh perspectives and the opportunity for future growth.
  • Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness practices can help quiet the mind and allow creative ideas to emerge. Techniques like meditation and deep breathing can be beneficial.
  • Take breaks and rest. Creativity can sometimes flourish after periods of rest and relaxation. Don’t force yourself into creative moments; let them happen naturally.

Creativity is unique to everyone. And all of us have the potential to be creative. Find what resonates with you and brings you joy. Nurture your creative side and experience the positive impact it has on your mental health and well-being.