Creativity has healing properties:
1) Making art is meditative; it helps us focus on the present moment.
2) Being creative can help relieve stress.
3) The creative process can give us a break from stressors in life, negative memories, or negative emotions.
4) Engaging in an artistic hobby can help build self-esteem and confidence, as the process cultivates self-awareness, freedom, and self-control.
5) Creativity allows us to express ourselves freely.
6) Harnessing our creativity can generate insights, open-mindedness, resilience, self-acceptance, and wisdom.
The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. (Elder Uchtdorf)
Stuckey & Noble (2010) find that doing art therapies—such as visual arts, dance, expressive writing, and playing music—is associated with reduction in depressive and anxiety symptoms. These therapies also lead to improved psychological and physical health.
Sloan, Marx, Bovin, Feinstein, & Gallagher (2012) suggest that people with motor vehicle accident-related PTSD who participate in a written exposure therapy have reduced PTSD symptoms.
Paint. Somehow, I find that fall is the most inspiring season to paint. The leaves are all so pretty and colourful! My eyes are so fascinated by the beauty of fall that I can’t help to pick up my paintbrush and paint.
If you do some artwork such as painting, be sure to nurture a feeling of kindness and acceptance towards yourself and your art. I have joined a few art classes over the years, and have met classmates who can’t stop swearing at or criticizing their own artwork as they paint!
I wish we can all paint and create, but in a gentle, self-accepting way. Enjoy the process of painting! It’s okay to make mistakes! Your imperfect art strokes are actually what make your painting perfect!
I paint not by sight but by faith. Faith gives you sight. (Amos Ferguson)
Painting is an attempt to come to terms with life. There are as many solutions as there are human beings. (George Tooker)
Play music. Sing! Play a musical instrument! If you say you can’t sing, or you can’t play a musical instrument, take a class! Once again, nothing needs to be perfect in art. It is the process of creating art that makes it therapeutic. And with practice and time, your skills will improve!
Creativity takes courage. (Henri Matisse)
Did you know? Flutes are considered one of the earliest instruments and date back to Germany over 35,000 years ago. (Vancouver Symphony Orchestra)
Nature photography. Sometimes, the camera can see something different or something more interesting than our own eyes. Preserve the leaves by taking pictures of them! The photographs bring renewed joy and peace every time you look at them.
After you take pictures, store them in an album which you look at frequently, or show them in a continuous slide show on the background of your computer screen. When you look at beautiful, positive memories repeatedly, their goodness has more of a chance to grow!
The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves. (Carl Jung)
Portrait Photography. Collaborate with portrait photographers and make art! Sometimes, the lenses can help reveal sides of you that you have never really seen before, and that could facilitate deep insights and self-awareness.
It is also important to nurture joy and acceptance of the way our bodies look. So often, people feel badly about their physical selves, and this contributes to depression. In order to work on this, portrait photography can be therapeutic. This is not vain or self-indulgent, but rather it is a way to attend to our physical image in a healthy way.
The purpose of art is not a rarified, intellectual distillate—it is life, intensified, brilliant life. (Alain Arias-Mission)
Write. Write a letter to your loved one, write a thank-you card to a teacher, or write a heartfelt note to a friend! Write a poem! Write a blog post or journal! Express your thoughts and feelings in a kind, gentle way. Write down the things that generate gratitude. Gratitude journaling is found to be associated with an improved sense of well-being (O'Leary & Dockray, 2015).
Scrapbook. Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays. It is a holiday that is officially about giving thanks to my blessings and the people who have helped me in my life. Make a scrapbook for someone you care for! It would be the most meaningful gift you could ever give, and the most enjoyable gift to make.
When you are curious, you find lots of interesting things to do. (Walt Disney)
Cook. Eat pumpkins! They are full of health benefits! Find new recipes, modify the recipes (less salt and less sugar!), and cook with your loved ones if you would like! Cooking is an art. I am always interested in watching people cook, or learning what ingredients they use. There’s always something that I feel surprised to know; I can either incorporate their ideas, or get some insights and create something my way! Share your food!
Style. Instead of merely following the fashion trend every season, create your own personal fashion style that makes you feel comfortable and confident! Get insights from fashion designers, fashion shows, fashion magazines and websites, fashion bloggers, and window-shopping because there is no end in art.
Fashion in modern culture does not have to be vain or self-indulgent. It can be a way to express individuality and creativity in a healthy way. You do not have to follow or copy the latest trends—you can express yourself in any way that you wish! My only advice is to focus on savouring fashion and style as a simple beautiful healthy component of life, rather than as a materialistic ambition or as a striving to look like someone else.
You can never be overdressed or overeducated. (Oscar Wilde)
While I see the value of designer clothing, clothing that makes us feel happy, comfortable, and confident don’t necessarily have to be expensive! Selecting clothes and accessories that accentuate one’s physical beauty can help build confidence and happiness. Some people may claim that taking good care of one’s appearance is a superficial act. Here are some of the reasons why I don’t see it as merely superficial, including scientific evidence:
For many with anxiety symptoms or trait perfectionism, there may be a tendency to have unreasonable, excessive demands upon self, and also a tendency to criticize self regardless of the outcome (sometimes even in advance of the action). This level of demand could be so steep that the person might choose not to go out at all, rather than to go out “not looking their best”.
But on the other hand, from a purely behavioural standpoint, I think it is interesting to encourage people to “look their best” in a healthy way. For example, to deliberately wear one’s favourite clothes, or have one’s hair done, etc. even when there is no formal occasion. This would not be motivated by some kind of unreasonable esthetic or perfectionistic demand, but rather could be viewed as a celebration of beauty, and a symbolic recognition that every “ordinary” day is special, without becoming a vain or superficial preoccupation. Karen Pine is a researcher who has looked at attire as a variable relevant to psychological states; her 2013 study referenced below is an introduction to some of her work (Howlett, Pine, Orakçioglu, & Fletcher, 2013).
Decorate. If you would like, learn how to decorate, and create your own decorating style. Decorations don’t have to be expensive! There are many affordable choices available. You can get insights from home décor books, magazines, blogs, social media sites, and YouTube channels. Decorate your home in a way that is comfy, calming, peaceful, rejuvenating, and welcoming. Let your home be your sanctuary, a sacred space, where you can meditate, reflect, and rejuvenate. Decorate for festivals, such as Thanksgiving! Decorate for special events or photo shoots!
You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. (Maya Angelou)
There is no right or wrong in art! Let your inner child take the lead, and let your creativity flow. Learn the rules of art, but challenge them afterwards! Your imperfect technique is what makes your artwork interesting and delightful. Seeking perfection in the process of creating art takes away enjoyment. So have fun! Create as if there were no rules! Create as if you were a carefree child!
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. (Pablo Picasso)
It is human nature to want to be understood, accepted, and appreciated by others. Unfortunately, this squelches our ability to break out of the mainstream to produce something extraordinary and unique. Real creative genius doesn’t reside in what is popular, but rather in what defies the established and the norm. Create as if no one were watching. Produce something that speaks to you and you alone. (Brett Blumenthal)
To be creative you must have courage. (Paulo Coelho)
Finally, be courageous enough to share your artwork with others! Display your imperfect paintings at home or on a website! Let your guests take a look at them! You will be surprised to know how many of them actually adore your artwork! There will always be someone who dislikes your artwork though. Be prepared for that and shrug at it. Everyone has his or her own artistic taste and opinion, and it is okay if someone doesn't like your artwork. The process of creating and sharing is not to gain more “likes” or approval from others. It’s just a healthy way to live!
Affirmation: I enrich my life when I create and encourage others to create.
Howlett, N., Pine, K., Orakçioglu, I., & Fletcher, B. (2013). The influence of clothing on first impressions: Rapid and positive responses to minor changes in male attire. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal, 17(1), 38-48. doi:10.1108/13612021311305128
O'Leary, K., & Dockray, S. (2015). The effects of two novel gratitude and mindfulness interventions on well-being. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 21(4), 243-245. doi:10.1089/acm.2014.0119
Sloan, D. M., Marx, B. P., Bovin, M. J., Feinstein, B. A., & Gallagher, M. W. (2012). Written exposure as an intervention for PTSD: A randomised clinical trial with motor vehicle accident survivors. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 50(10), 627-635. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2012.07.001
Stuckey, H. L., & Noble, J. (2010). The connection between art, healing, and public health: A review of current literature. American Journal of Public Health, 100(2), 254-263. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2008.156497