Have you ever found yourself craving creative behaviors? Are you aware that the theory of cognition postulates that being creative is actually a basis for human life?
In 2015, psychologist and art therapist Dr. Cathy Malchiodi cited multiple studies confirming that being creative can increase positive emotions, lessen depressive symptoms, reduce stress, decrease anxiety, and even improve immune system functioning. A 2016 study in The Journal of Positive Psychology supported these earlier findings, concluding that “spending time on creative goals during a day is associated with higher activated positive affect on that day.”
Typically, when people are creating something, they tend to get lost in the activity. The act of creating requires focus and concentration, and multitasking doesn’t work. Some psychologists call this state of creativity, “flow.” 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.”
The state of creative flow is caused by changes in brain function. Brainwaves slow down, and original thoughts are better able to form. Additionally, the prefrontal cortex temporarily deactivates, or “goes quiet,” making us less critical of our ideas and more courageous. Lastly, during a flow state, our brain releases “an enormous cascade of neurochemistry,” including large quantities of endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. These are pleasure- and satisfaction-inducing chemicals that affect creativity and well-being.
The way the brain acts during creative activities is similar to the experience during meditation, mindfulness, and yoga exercises. These activities are designed to help you find peace, calm, and happiness by blocking out external stimuli. Like these exercises, creativity can produce a natural “high” or feeling of joy and contentment.
As you create art, allow yourself to experience your stressful thoughts and recognize them as just thoughts and not as something that defines you. Over time, as you continue to practice art and meditation, this special time can actually alter your brain for the better. Dopamine, sometimes referred to as the feel-good chemical, is a neurotransmitter which acts as a natural antidepressant, is also released during our creative pursuits. When we engage in such activities, the neurons in our brain start firing, we receive positive reinforcement. So, not only does being creative feel good at the time, our brains are essentially telling us to keep going.
So, in case you are wondering what all these creative pursuits include, they can include creating almost anything that helps you feel lighter, enthusiastic, delightful. For example- creative writing, knitting, stitching, painting, drawing, dancing, singing and the list can just go on and on.
But bear in mind that it’s not about being good at something, it’s about doing something that helps you connect with your inner child.