Why Everyday Creativity Is Good for Your Mind and Body

We all know that creative play is key to a child’s development. Through the use of their senses, they interact with their surroundings and learn about the world. The fascination of different textures, sounds, and colors helps them connect to their environment, other people, and themselves.

Increasingly, people are rediscovering the value of creativity throughout the course of life. It turns out that the benefits don’t wane as we get older. A study published in The Journal of Creative Behavior found that everyday creativity was associated with personal growth, self-awareness, and a more outgoing personality.

How often do we take advantage of these benefits? Often, it seems like the only people who make time for creativity are those who need to do so professionally, such as writers, graphic designers, or musicians. But it may be even more important for those who have no creative outlet to find time for one, especially as the distractions and responsibilities of adulthood become more numerous and stressful.

Creativity Catching On

Well, the tide may be turning. In 2015, adult coloring books exploded in popularity. Touted as a way to release stress and anxiety, books containing everything from intricate geometric shapes to animals are now mainstays on top-selling book lists, including Amazon’s top 20. Many people use these books during breaks at work or as a way to wind down from a busy day.

It isn’t hard to understand why the trend has caught on if you look at the science. Art therapy has long been used to assist those who have suffered trauma. Under the care of a therapist trained in both art and psychology, patients use art to help work through the healing process, often via different visual media.

While coloring books aren’t therapy per se, the tactile process and the quiet focus of repetitive motion may have very real physical and emotional benefits.

Finding the Calm

In many ways, adult coloring books resemble a form of meditation. With its roots in eastern religious traditions, meditation is an umbrella term used today to describe various techniques of mindfulness, relaxation, and reflection. Some of these involve focused breathing or the recitation of a mantra.

The benefits of the practice are now hard to argue with: A Harvard-affiliated study found that meditating for 27 minutes per day was associated with measurable, positive changes in brain chemistry.

For those who find it difficult to sit and focus on their breathing, filling in intricate designs with bright colors and moving their hand in rhythmic pattern can produce similar benefits. A study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association found that coloring mandalas produced a kind of meditative state that reduced anxiety in those suffering from the condition.

If you’re someone who has trouble dealing with stress, a creative hobby that helps you clear your mind can be a major help.

Just Do It

“But I’m just not a creative person,” you might say. Well, the benefits of creativity aren’t limited to the artistically trained or inclined. They aren’t confined to any specific method or discipline. Everyday creativity isn’t about accomplishment or talent — it’s about rediscovering that part of us that just wants to play.

In this busy world where every moment seems to be about another decision that needs to be made, creating for the sake of creating provides a necessary break. Whether it’s knitting, playing the piano, coloring, or gardening, you can find a creative hobby that suits your interests and provides an antidote to decision fatigue. For a moment, there’s no thinking, only doing.

Sometimes, stepping into the carefree attitude of a kid is just what grown-ups need to rediscover their center.

Image source: Crystal B. Shepeard