Mental Health

Creativity Brings Joy

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” - Ephesians 2:10

Research has established that there is a direct link between creativity and increased mental and physical health according to Amanda Enayati, author, speaker and consultant. Similar research from a 2016 New Zealand research study supports that, “engaging in creative activities contributes to an ‘upward spiral’ of positive emotions, psychological well-being, and feelings of ‘flourishing’ in life.”

In a 1968 study conducted by Dr George Land, 1600 children were followed over a 12-year period at 3, 5, 10 and 15 years to assess their creative behaviour. These children were given an assessment Land administered to identify innovative scientists and engineers for NASA. What Land discovered was, between the ages of 3-5 children exhibited a 98% level of creativity. By the time they reached 10 years of age it had dropped to 30%, and at the age of 15 it dipped down to 12%. When the same assessment was administered to 280,000 adults the level of creativity dropped to only 2%!

What happened? What does this mean? It has been commonly known and understood that our current educational process and societal system has had a negative impact on our creativity and inhibited our natural creative thinking. We have become so accustomed to using the ‘executive function’ of our brains (the prefrontal cortex) which is responsible for helping us manage impulses, being attentive, planning, organizing and making decisions and that has allowed our natural creativity to diminish. This study along with others, have proven that our non-creative behavior was learned. Thankfully, this gives us reason to believe we are much more creative than we think! Research has also proven the significant health benefits of being creative: such as reducing anxiety, increasing happiness, creating a sense of purpose, improving our immune system, managing stress more effectively, and reducing negative emotions. So, let’s be encouraged to pursue and explore our creative side.

Check out Captain Barb Stanley’s video below and take the time to get lost in sketching, appreciating art, listening to music, cooking, baking, decorating a room, writing, knitting, making a collage, building or designing something, painting or simply just taking photographs. These are some of the ways that we can express our creative selves and reap the health benefits of creativity.

Exercise: Being Creative

Dr. Marta Davidovich Ockuly, a psychologist, researcher and CEO of Creative Potential Institute suggests the following to aid us on our creative journey:

  • Reflect on an activity/interest you enjoy
  • Focus on one that inspires you and resonates with your skills and abilities
  • Take time to daydream or reflect on this activity/interest
  • Be open to experiencing something new around that activity/interest - discover, learn and explore
  • Be willing to think differently or do something differently around this activity/interest
  • Defer judgement and embrace failure – this is the key to creativity and innovation

Focus on the journey not the final destination and enjoy the moments of joy it evokes.

Chair of Well-Being

Take a look at this image, The Chair of Well Being by Dr. Eric Levi.  I’d like you to imagine a 4-legged chair, where we know that each leg is critical for support of the person sitting on it. 

Now imagine that your life is supported by that chair. What would our responsibility be if we wanted our lives to be supported?  Well, we would need to ensure that the structure of those legs was strong enough.  Sounds simple, and practical, but when it comes to our wellbeing, unfortunately most don’t take time to regularly contemplate and assess the structure that supports our wellness.  But we need to – because if any one of those legs were compromised, the chair would fall.

Take time for Self-Reflection. Look at the 4 legs of the Chair of Well Being and consider if there are any areas that you feel require attention.  Just get curious, and please leave any judgement or self criticism at the door.  Give yourself permission to be open, honest, and vulnerable.  This is how you manage Self-Care, by knowing where you need to place your attention.

  Chair of well-being image

Exercise – The Feelings Wheel

Spend a few minutes each day identifying and naming your emotions. To help you in this process we’ve provided a downloadable copy of The Feelings Wheel developed by Dr. Gloria Willcox. Start by identifying your feelings based on the six inner categories then allow yourself to move towards the outside of the circle to better describe your emotions. Post this chart in your workspace, your fridge or your bathroom mirror. Practicing naming your emotions can be as casual or in-depth as you’d like.

This is a great mental wellness exercise you can also incorporate regularly with your employee and loved ones; it may open opportunities for much needed conversations. If you, your employee or loved one is feeling down for an extended period, more than 2-3 weeks, then it’s important to talk to someone. Your family doctor is often the best place to start.” You might also find these online resources beneficial. Click here to view The Feelings Wheel Handout.

The Feelings Wheel image