There are many moments in life when we seek restoration and mental clarity. Regularly finding outlets that encourage us to simply step away from daily routines allows us to reflect and de-stress. When we reduce stress, we reduce health risks. Creative activities can help reduce stress levels. Through a mindless or repetitive practice, we can dial in to the present and focus on completing the task in front of us.

Creative activities can also dramatically increase our self-awareness, which can help us reach a place of greater healing. The more self-aware we become, the better we can identify what is bothering us to digest it, manage it and heal it. This increases our chances for maintaining our physical wellbeing.

Wherever we are in our journey, creativity has the power to help us gain introspection on our current state. It allows us to remove the distractions and express ourselves in ways old and new. The mental wellbeing benefits are bountiful!

How Can Prescribed Creativity Be Beneficial?

  • It can help combat loneliness.
  • It can help those experiencing trauma.
  • It can help to cope with an eating disorder or substance use.
  • It can help to manage stress, anxiety, depression, autism and/or dementia.
  • It can help those looking to strengthen their understanding of self.
  • IT can help give a sense of accomplishment by completing a task.

Creative Coping With PTSD

  • This can be a visual outlet when words or talking through something is difficult.
  • It involves color meaning and symbolism, working through image representation, and creating a visual timeline.
  • People who experience trauma may often feel unsafe internally —there is a difference between feeling safe and being safe.
    • Art therapy allows something to be created externally, therefore allowing internal workings to be sorted outside of the body.

But I am not an artist, I can barely draw a stick figure!

The American Art Therapy Association notes that art therapy is “active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience.” Drawing technically takes years of practice and time, and yes, can be very therapeutic for some. Expressing yourself through creativity does not always mean visual art, but if you need a place to begin beyond drawing and painting here are a few ideas:

  • Adult coloring books
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Collaging with magazines, photos and construction paper
  • Photography
  • Working with clay
  • Doodling and scribbling
  • Whittling
  • Candle making
  • Book making
  • Wood burning or calligraphy
  • Pressing flowers or creating floral arrangements
  • Jewelry making

Creative Therapy Beyond Visual Arts

Other forms of creativity help us improve in communicating, expressing emotions and feelings, and developing our own form of storytelling.

Examples include:

  • Music: Writing lyrics, performing and listening
  • Dance: Non-verbal communication
  • Drama: Expressing and telling a story
  • Poetry and expressive writing through journaling

Setting “Art Traps”

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic has turned her kitchen table into a designated creative zone during pandemic shutdowns. Leaving items out on the table to create has allowed her to continue most days and to keep up with getting all of her thoughts down on paper. Whether it is your craft brewing kit, drawing, painting, music, etc., Gilbert states “Not having time isn’t an excuse” when it comes to your creative process and mental health—not watching TV, not engaging in social media, and the discipline of setting time aside makes the magic happen.” Gilbert’s approach encourages us that we are all capable of creation—it just takes commitment to the practice.

Not Mistakes, Rather Happy Accidents

Bob Ross has helped so many heal through his accessible art demonstrations on the his show The Joy of Painting. For many, his calm voice removes the intimidation of starting a new painting. Throughout the experience, he empowers viewers to enjoy the journey of creation. Check out the official YouTube channel of Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting.