3 Ways Creative Activities Benefit Health and Wellness

Are you creative? I always say I want to be creative so badly I can hardly stand it, but I’m not. I’m pretty good at re-creating things I’ve seen somewhere – wreaths, home decor, etc. – but I’m not good at actually coming up with my own ideas. If you’re like me and think you’re not creative, you may not want to give up on your creative pursuits just yet. Even if you’re not very creative, participating in creative activities can benefit wellness in several ways.

Let’s take a look at just a few of them.

3 ways being creative can benefit your health and wellness:

1. Engaging in creative activities can reduce stress.

Who doesn’t need a little less stress in their lives? Being creative can reduce the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. This is due in part to something some psychologists call “flow.” 

According to an article by Therapy Group of NYC, (1) the Flow Genome Project (an organization that researches human performance), defines the state of flow as “those moments of rapt attention and total absorption when you get so focused on the task at hand that everything else disappears and all aspects of performance, both mental and physical, go through the roof.”

When we’re concentrating on that painting, crochet or quilting project, our novel-in-progress, or any other creative activity, there’s no room for anything else. This flow state actually results from changes in brain function. Our brainwaves slow down (much like during meditation or yoga), our prefrontal cortex quietens, making us less self-critical, and several feel-good chemicals are released.

2. Being creative may help with anxiety and depression.

In several studies, (3) participants saw improvements in levels of anxiety and depression after participating in art therapy. One theory for why this helps is that it can help “develop a greater sense of self through the act of creation.”

One of the ways we talked about to care for our Emotional Wellness in How’s Your Emotional Wellness is to be mindful. Participating in creative activities helps us to be present as we get into that flow state we talked about above.

3. It can help improve quality of life for those with dementia or other neurological diseases.

Creative pursuits can be an important part of self-care for people who are living with dementia or other neurological diseases. Researchers have found that participating in these types of activities can help people regain a sense of self and provide feelings of accomplishment. (4)

Multi-colored background with light bulb with quote: ;Creativity is breaking out of established patterns to look at things in a different way. ~Edward de Bono

Are you ready to get creative now?

Do any of these benefits encourage you to get busy creating? For some people, the idea of getting creative can be daunting. That’s because we may think of creativity as something like making art or playing a musical instrument — something big.

We also tend to think we have to be “good at it” right away.

The truth is, though, that we can do lots of things that tap into our creativity. Here’s a list of just some of the things we can try to get our creative juices flowing:

  • Paint – oil, watercolor, acrylics, your walls….
  • Try out some of the adult coloring books you can find almost everywhere these days.
  • Do a DIY project – refresh and repurpose that old stool, make and plant some flower boxes for your porch. or windows, etc.
  • Try a beading project.
  • Do a decoupage project.
  • Make a scrapbook.
  • Learn to play a musical instrument.
  • Start that novel you’ve been thinking of writing.
  • Plant a garden.
  • Learn to knit or crochet.
  • Try some new recipes or take a cooking class.
  • Build something.
  • Develop or brush up on your photography skills — maybe even participate in #WordlessWednesday
  • Learn the art of hand lettering.
  • Learn to sew or do a new sewing project.

These are just a few of the creative activities I could think of off the top of my head. It doesn’t really matter what type of creative pursuits we explore. What matters is that we do it. Each of us needs to find what helps us unwind and let our minds take a break for a while. It’s important to remember that creativity isn’t a result; it’s a process, and that process is what benefits our wellness.

What types of activities would you add to the list? Which ones do you like to participate in? Please share!




(1) https://nyctherapy.com/therapists-nyc-blog/creativity-is-your-secret-advantage-for-mental-health-and-well-being/

(2) https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-playing-field/201402/flow-states-and-creativity

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279641/

(4) https://newsroom.uhc.com/health/art-wellness.html

(5) https://www.flowgenomeproject.com

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Painting with spatters of paint with outline of light bulb superimposed on it, with text overlay: 3 Ways Creative Activities Benefit Health & Wellness

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  1. 100%! My husband and son set me up with an art room recently and filled it with canvases and acrylics. My Ukrainian friends have been joining me for creative exploration (none of us know what we are doing) and we all marvel at how the hours pass without a care in our minds.

    1. That sounds wonderful VJ! I wish I lived close enough to pop over and have fun with you all! That was really lovely of the men to get the art room set up for you. Hope you’re doing well. Sending hugs your way!

  2. You know Terri, I never really thought that being creative has a health benefit. That is so interesting. I am like you Terri. I feel like I’m not creative as well. Only once in a great moon can I come up with something original but often times I struggle to wrack my brains thinking of something unique. But even if you’re re-creating something done by someone else, you are putting a bit of your flair in the work. It might not be easily recognized but it’s there. In a subtle way, you did put your spin in there.

    1. You make a great point Mark – even if we’re recreating something someone else has done, we’re putting some of ourselves in it. And as far as the health benefits go, we don’t have to be doing something ‘original’ to reap the benefits of participating in those creative activities. Hope you and your family are doing well, and enjoying this time of year.

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