Making art is not just for kids. Creativity enhances your brain, your health and makes you happier!

Creative expression is the language that your soul speaks. When you create a safe space to listen to your heart, love and peace surround you. Make a practice of expressing your creativity and your inner and outer worlds will expand.

Time for Creativity

In our busy, productive lives, it is easy to shove the act of creative expression aside. When was the last time you drew a picture, wrote a song, created a new dance, wrote a short story, created your own crossword puzzle, painted a canvas, played the piano or composed a poem? How would your life change if you made a practice of creative expression just as you do for brushing your teeth, eating your vegetables and exercising your body?

“Joy’s soul lies in the doing.” —Shakespeare

Creative expression has been low on the priority list for me for most of my life. Bringing home the bacon, cooking it up in a pan and feeding it to the children have been my primary activities. Good nutrition and exercise have been lesser priorities. Creativity is something I have rarely made time for.

Now that I am beginning to think about my life after retirement, I find myself wanting to make more time for creative expression. The wonderful surprise is that the more I engage in artistic expression the happier and more peaceful I am. Scientific research supports the notion that expressing yourself creatively is good for you in a multitude of ways.

Science Behind Creativity and Brain Health

Neuroscience and cognitive research are constantly discovering more significant correlations between artistic expression and brain function. Artistic expression boosts creativity, long-term memory and problem solving capability. Artistic expression activates neural networks the brain uses when processing the highest form of thinking.

When we engage in producing art, our brain engages in critical analysis, conceptual thinking and the recognition of relationships of symbols and meaning. In artistic expression, we become aware of our emotions in new ways and evaluate different response choices.  Being creative activates our memory circuits. By drawing on stored memories and data, we are better able to respond to new information and produce new creative insights.

Health Benefits of Creative Expression

“Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements in human happiness. It trains the mind through the eye, and the eye through the mind. As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life.”  – John Lubbock

Creating art relieves stress

When you get into the “zone” of making art, your blood pressure decreases, your breathing becomes more restful and your mind wanders. Your problems and worries disappear during the time you are engaged in creating.

Art fosters creative thinking and problem-solving

To create something new, your brain must engage in analysis, evaluation and problem-solving. The practice of creative problem solving in artistic endeavors carries over to increase your ability to solve life’s challenges more creatively.

Creative expression boosts self esteem

A sense of accomplishment is inevitable when you create something that has never existed before. Creating art increases the “feel good” neurotransmitter dopamine.  Whether you share it with the world or not, your creation delights you and increases your own feelings of self-worth.

Making art boosts neuro-plasticity and connectivity

Neuro-plasticity is your brain’s ability to grow connections and change throughout your lifetime. When you engage in a new or complex activity such as a creative activity, your brain builds new connectors between brain cells. More connections in your brain mean better ability to cope with life’s challenges and solve problems.  

Art increases tolerance and acceptance of others

Simply viewing art increases dopamine in  your brain. Dopamine is the chemical that makes you feel happier and more peaceful. Actively making art enhances your empathy through greater connection with and understanding of people. When you create, you express themes that are universal to humanity and acknowledge your inherent connection with all people.

Creative expression may reduce the likelihood of dementia

Dr. Arnold Bresky has seen a 70% success rate in improvement of his dementia patients’ memories after a program of art therapy he devised. Engaging in art activities improves social behavior and self-esteem. Making a regular practice of creative expression may help reduce the instances of dementia by reducing inflammation in the brain.

For a happier, healthier life, make creative expression a wellness practice that you incorporate into your daily life.

RESOURCES: Check out the book Keep Your Brain Alive by Lawrence C. Katz and Manning Rubin; and this Daily Art App for your phone.

How Creativity Boosts Happiness and Brain Health

What type of creative activity calls to you? How much time in a given week do you engage in creative expression? What are the benefits you derive from making art? How can you add creativity into your life? Please share your thoughts below!

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