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Creativity 101: How Does Creativity Relate to Mental Wellness?

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Just saying … how is creativity related to mental wellness? First all, let’s define creativity so we have a common framework. Google’s dictionary defines creativity as, “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work” (Google, 2018). I am creative and have been most of my life. I have my own definition of creativity, and it is, “a person who defines him/herself as a ‘creative’ who develops visionary and innovative designs, illustrations, paintings, writings, and other artwork using various media and mediums with the goal of helping others grow and live in wellness.”

As a child, I grew up creative, but did not pursue an education in art. Today, I know that I did not stay true to my inner self and I suffer, though not necessarily linked, from bouts of depression and anxiety. One study showed, “It seems likely that creative individuals do have higher rates of mood disorder in general, and bipolar disorder in particular. An obvious limitation of the work to date, however, is that it has focused on writers. A study to determine whether these results generalize to other types of creativity (e.g., inventors, performing artists, scientists) is yet to be done” (Andreasen, page 253, 2008).

What to do with creatives?

It is important to accept and support a creative as a creative. Negative labeling because of behavioral health disorders leads to internalized negative feelings about oneself. You cannot live forever as a client or patient, but you should live out who you are.

Why stay true to oneself?

I often feel uncomfortable when I am not engaging in a creative activity. My inner being often cries to me to create, and sometimes my hand hurts, often saying to me, “Can we draw?” Um, is that my brain talking?

Recovery and Wellness

In the article, Identifying the evidence-base for art-based practices and their potential benefit for mental health recovery: A critical review, they put forth findings that state psychological recovery is important (Lith, Schofield & Fenner, 2013). So yes, that is my psyche talking to me, positively supporting my psychological recovery.

Per Charles Benayon’s blog,

There are “…many positive benefits creative expression has in maintaining wellness, whether through art, music, reading, writing, crafts, coloring, knitting, sewing, pottery, gardening, or dancing. Creative expression can:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Increase positive emotions
  • Decrease depressive symptoms
  • Reduce distress and negative emotions
  • Boost the immune system
  • Increase self-esteem and feelings of accomplishment
  • Improve concentration and focus
  • Increase happiness”

Occupational Recovery

Everything being said, I have taken this sense of wellness and turned it into an occupational recovery. The article by Lith et al. (2013) outlines, outlines two important concepts for occupational recovery, “…planning and organizational skills, and specific task and performance skills were of utility for employment” (Lith, Schofield & Fenner, 2013). In my community, the development of my artist identity is a work in progress. Most people say I have great planning and organizational skills and like what I create (via LinkedIn and Facebook groups. In conclusion, wellness is real and using your creativity is part of the journey, so believe in recovery and remember … it’s all about that hope.

References

Benayon, C. 2017. How Creativity Improves Mental Health and Wellness. Web. Retrieved July 31, 2018. http://bit.ly/2v5MJMH

Google. 2018. Dictionary. Web. Retrieved July 31, 2018. http://bit.ly/2Avp8u4

Lith, T, Schofield, M. & Fenner, P. 2013. Identifying the evidence-base for art-based practices and their potential benefit for mental health recovery: A critical review. Disability & Rehabilitation. Informa, UK, LTD.​

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