Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Creativity Leads to Health & Happiness

Break out your paints, camera, knitting needles, or whatever else you need to tap into your creativity. Because being creative isn't just for kids – it's actually good for your health.

Not only are you happier when you follow creative pursuits, but you're better able to deal with stress and have less anxiety. Plus, they give you a sense of purpose. (Source: CNN)

As adults, we can sometimes lose sight of our creativity. We get caught up in checking chores off of a to-do list or are wrapped up in our favorite TV programs.

When we've been going through the motions, it can be a challenge to know where to start.

First, give yourself permission to be creative. You might feel as though taking time out for creative endeavors isn't productive, but breaking away from your daily routine will benefit you in the way you think and feel. Turn off the voice that's telling you that you're wasting time, and reward yourself for your efforts.

Embrace change. "Although you might believe certainty and control over your circumstances brings you pleasure, it is often uncertainty and challenge that bring the longest-lasting benefits," says psychologist Todd Kashdan (Source: The Guardian).

Ways to change your routine:
  • Rearrange your furniture at home or at work.
  • Listen to new music.
  • Talk to new people. Join a MeetUp group to meet people in the area.
  • Learn something new. Take a book or read a class.
  • Listen to a new podcast or different radio station.
  • Take a new route to work.
  • Try new foods.

Spend time outdoors. A new study found that when you're in nature, without the distraction of a phone or computer, your mind can relax and is able to devote more energy to problem-solving and imagining. Go for a walk, take a hike or spend a weekend camping (without technology).

Take up a creative hobby. Hobbies take your mind off of whatever is bothering you at work or in your personal life. They also make you a more interesting person. Hobbies that you might consider are:
  • Photography
  • Interior decorating / refinishing old furniture
  • Pottery
  • Sewing, knitting or embroidering
  • Scrapbooking
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Learning a foreign language
  • Gardening
  • Journaling / Blogging (I like Penzu for journaling)
  • Cooking
  • Baking
  • Soap Making
  • Programming / Web Development
  • Painting
  • Exercising

Write down your goals. Make a list of how you plan to add newness to your life – start small, maybe with one new thing each day – and of the hobbies you plan to pursue. Writing down your goals will increase the probability that you'll follow through.

"Write your goals down, or type them into your computer or phone. Look at them daily or even better, rewrite them every day. I have found that when I do this I naturally make my goals my priorities, and don’t get so easily distracted," says musician and blogger Mike Monday.

I like the web-based list program Remember the Milk, which I can have open in my browser window and also on my phone.

What are your strategies for being creative? Have you noticed any benefits?

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