Did you take an art class in High School? How about choir, or dance? Many of us leave artistic pursuits to those who have incredible natural talent. But the truth is, a creative outlet is healthy for all of us. Especially if you’re an overloaded parent who seldom gets time to explore your own interests.
Creative expression has phenomenal mental and emotional effects. A survey in the American Journal of Public Health states that artistic expression reduces stress, anxiety and depression, and improves social networks and self-worth. As this article shows us, those effects are so powerful that they’re often used to help people struggling with addiction. These mental and emotional effects carry on into our physical health. Patients diagnosed with severe illnesses responded better to treatment, and improved immune function with the implementation of artistic therapy, whether that was musical expression, painting, or writing. Furthermore, studies have found that people with personal creative outlets are more successful and happy in life.
Despite the apparent benefits of creative outlets, few of us find our niche and a passion for artistic expression. Many of us have an idea in the back of our minds that we’ll pick up an art form that we liked during childhood some day. Maybe once we retire. However, science argues that we should make time for these artistic pursuits now, during the times that we are most burdened and stressed. Not only can it improve your daily life, but it might help you learn skills and passions that will enhance your relationships, professional life, and confidence levels. Here are some tips to help you find your creative outlet.
Try Everything without Fear
Have you ever tried pottery? Whittling? Stage management or salsa dancing? Well, why not? Imagine if Jimi Hendrix had never picked up a guitar, or Fred Astaire never put on his dancing shoes. You might be a genius in that field, waiting to discover your calling. Or you might simply find joy in the activity. And if you don’t, that’s okay! Now you know.
Trying new things challenges our mind and staves off the effects of aging, decreasing our chances of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Trying something new can revitalize a relationship, or help you make new friends. So, sign up for a class at your local community college, devote some time to online tutorials, and get involved in a local club. Only when you try it will you know whether or not you really love it.
Don’t Get Discouraged, or Compare Yourself to Others
Many of us are self-conscious about our creativity, not wanting anyone to see that we draw worse than a first grader. However, one could argue that the only reason that your drawing skills are close to a 7-year-old’s is that you haven’t drawn at all since you were 7! Every skill takes practice and time. Don’t let fear and self-consciousness keep you from pursuing something that brings you fulfillment and peace.
One more thing: don’t compare yourself to others. The quickest way to abandon something that you’re enjoying is to look over at the person next to you and discover that they make your piano skills look childish. You might be ashamed that your skills don’t measure up to those of someone who has been practicing since they were young. It doesn’t matter! Vera Wang didn’t start designing dresses until she was in her 30’s. Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first book in her 60’s. It’s never too late to start something new.
Find Creativity in the Small Things
Another thing to remember about creativity is that our most creative pursuits are often things that don’t fall into the conventional aspects of “art.” Think outside the box! You can show your creativity in the games that you formulate for your kids and their friends. Your true art form might be in robotics, cooking, or party planning. This article actually talks about how to match your personality type to your fencing! However mundane the pursuit might seem at first, it becomes a creative pursuit when you put your own personal spin on it. So don’t be afraid to put pieces of yourself in everything that you do.
To finish up, I want to leave a list of creative outlets that you might not have thought of before:
- Formulate your own routines for Zumba and yoga.
- Create your own go-kart using discarded materials in your garage and at the junkyard. Just make sure you test it safely.
- Build a dollhouse.
- Write heartfelt haikus to friends and family as “thank you” and “thinking of you” letters.
- Paint a fan.
- Join your community theater.
- Write fanfiction.
- Create a new board game.
- Learn how to make your own remote-controlled airplane.
- Try out adventurous new hair and makeup styles on yourself and your friends.
- Refinish old furniture.
- Plant a garden.
- Learn to cook a different country’s food.
Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.