The Power of Creativity For Emotional Health

When I first started writing about creativity and creative confidence, I talked myself through all of the benefits that come from an increase in creative confidence. I wrote an entire post on the reasons why I think creative confidence is important to both society and the individual. I’d like to explore some of those reasons in more depth. I thought I’d start with emotional health.

When we are in touch with our own creative power, when we use that power to create, we contribute to our emotional well-being. Expressing ourselves creatively, thinking creatively, exercises our brain in the same way that a treadmill can exercise our muscles. No one argues with the fact that physical exercise is beneficial to our health. We should look at mental exercise, including creative mental exercise, the same way. In order to be healthy, our brains need a workout.

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Our minds are full of thoughts and feelings. Oftentimes, it is difficult for children to unpack or express all of those emotions. Let’s be honest…it’s not easy for adults either. There are tons of strategies out there to help children and adults handle their emotions and work through their racing thoughts. In our crazy and busy world, we need these strategies more than ever. Though I’m no expert in emotional health, I’ve noticed that a lot of strategies used by professionals involve tapping into creative energy. Doodling, journaling, art, music, poetry and storytelling are all great examples. They are all fantastic ways to express the feelings that are often swirling around in our minds. Getting those feelings from inside of us and down on a page can have a therapeutic effect. We can even access our subconscious thoughts by looking at what we create and thinking about why we created it.

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There are entire areas of therapy and research devoted to the efficacy of art and music therapy. For myself, struggling with anxiety throughout the majority of my adult life, I have seen first-hand the benefits of expressing myself creatively. There is something very cathartic about showing my emotions through art or through writing. It makes me feel less alone in my thinking, less bottled up. There is also something remarkably relaxing about swirling colors along a canvas or coloring meditatively. As long as I’m not working on a deadline, or wracking my brain to find creative inspiration, the act of creating can be one of the most relaxing activities in my life. Just allowing the art or writing to take place, without worrying about where it’s going or what it looks like can be just as beneficial as yoga, mindfulness practice or meditation.

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Music is another therapeutic creative avenue. There are many people who find solace in their music, who express their deepest emotions when they play, sing or compose. Personally, I have never played an instrument, so I don’t know much about that feeling, but I can absolutely believe it. I use music as therapy, but it’s tied to my visual art, rather than the creation of music itself. I find it most relaxing to paint or draw while listening to music. It can certainly be inspirational, affecting the art that I create, but it’s more than that. The music takes me away, it allows my mind to be free of my daily concerns, drawing me further into my creative world, blocking out my worries and the concerns that may be weighing on my mind.

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When we encourage creativity in ourselves, we allow ourselves to breathe, to cope, to exist as an emotional being in the world. When we encourage creativity in children, we help them navigate the world that they are just beginning to explore. When we grow their confidence, show them that they are capable of using their creativity to express their feelings, we give them tools to handle difficulties they may face later in life. When we show children how to harness their creativity, we give them the ability to express their fears, frustrations, pain and joy in a way that they may not be able to communicate otherwise. We show them how to explain themselves and who they are. We give ourselves a glimpse into their minds, allowing us to further understand and help them navigate. We give them coping skills, a way to relax, to let go of the stress of the day and simply make something. It’s a gift we can give to our children. It’s also a gift we can give to ourselves.