I came across this article the other day: Feeling Down? Scientists Say Cooking and Baking Could Help You Feel Better.
It was the subtitle that caught my attention: A little creativity each day goes a long way. The article touts the benefits of the sustained burst of creativity in cooking a meal or baking something, and the effect of focusing and immersing yourself, similar to meditation. The writer of the article is referring to the the concept of flow, a state where you are so absorbed in what you’re doing that the outside world falls away, and you are fully present with the task at hand.
Of course, you don’t have to cook or bake to get this benefit. There are a number of ways to include a little creativity in your life each day. Adult coloring books, which have exploded in popularity recently, are a great way to slow down and become absorbed in using color to create beautiful, often intricate designs. This can apply to any visual art – you can spend the time finger painting, sketching, or whatever you like, as long as it is something you can do without too much preparation or thought.
Freewriting is another way to simply get in the flow of the process and not worry about the product. Set a timer for 5, 10, 15 or however many minutes, and just keep writing, preferably by hand (not on a keyboard). Don’t lift your hand from the page. Don’t censor yourself. You may be surprised at what you come up with.
Dancing in your livingroom is a fabulous way to connect with your body and the music. It requires privacy, of course, so you can really let yourself go without wondering who might be watching. If dancing isn’t your thing, taking a run or even a walk can inspire a similar state, although there is generally less creativity involved. If you’re unsure of your choreographic skills, buy a dance workout DVD and learn the routines. They are usually not too hard but you do have to focus to keep up, which is the point here.
Any form of sewing or knitting, or crocheting, etc. can also work well to keep you busy and absorbed in a creative act. Anything where you are engaging your hands and your brain – working with clay or wood also come to mind – also works well.
To get the benefit of flexing your creative muscle, you should think not just of “relaxing” things to do, or hobbies, but ones that specifically involve your creative brain – things that force you to make choices relevant to the work at hand, toward the completion of a specific goal. If we do too many things that either involve “work” tasks (i.e., our jobs, or the stuff on our endless To Do lists) or passive, reactionary tasks (watching tv, playing online games) our energy is drained rather than replenished. Including a little creative play somewhere in every day helps fuel our overall energy and well-being. It also helps remind us that we are creative beings, and “keeps the engine running” until we can get to our larger creative projects.
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