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The Importance of a Creative Mindset to Your Mental Health
Updated: Jan 10
by Shane Barker for DesignCuts.com
In this article we are going to cover the benefits of maintaining a creative mindset during your mental health journey. We will share a variety of activities you can take part in and show the impact they can have on your mood and on your overall well-being.
Research shows that almost 1 in 5 adults in the United States experience mental illness in a given time, and about 50% of the population will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder as some point in their life. Thankfully, mental health treatments such as therapy, medication, and self-care, have made mental health recovery possible for most people. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all process, and it’s important to find what works best for you. Let’s dive in.
What does it mean to be creative?
Creativity is about problem solving, finding new ways to do things, and enjoying what you love.
Creativity is all around us. It’s in the way we talk, the way we dress, and the way we interact with others. And, of course, creativity is most often intertwined with our hobbies and interests. But what does it mean to be creative? And how can creativity help your mental health?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines creative as “producing or using original and unusual ideas.” In other words, it’s a mindset where you can create original ideas, look at something in a new way, or make something different from what already exists.
Creators think outside the box with their ideas, allowing them to develop new solutions for problems that need solving. Entrepreneurs are creative because they turn societal nuisances and pain points into unique business ideas. Of course, that’s just one example. Creativity comes in many different shapes and sizes. It’s considered an incredible tool for mental health and can improve your overall health in several ways:
Benefits of creativity on mental health
Increase self-esteem: You feel good about yourself when you create something new.
Boost brain power: Thinking outside the box allows you to solve problems faster.
Encourage socialization: Create an opportunity to get together with people that share your common interests.
Reduce dementia: Research has shown that people who engage in artistic activities, like painting or sculpting, may be less likely to develop memory issues that could lead to dementia.
Make you smarter: Certain creative activities help improve connectivity between left and right brains. The left side of your brain is responsible for motor functions, while the right side of the brain focuses on imagination. When both sides of your brain communicate with each other, your cognitive function improves.
Improve immune system: Studies show people who journal their daily experiences actually have a stronger immune systems. It seems listening to music also has a similar impact.
Relieve anxiety and stress: Artistic expression can help you feel more in control of your life by giving you a sense of purpose. It also allows you to forget about the stresses of daily life and focus on the task at hand.
Let’s take a closer look at the importance of maintaining a creative mindset for improving your mental health journey.
How can creativity help improve your mental health?
We have listed above the many ways in which engaging in a creative activity can help with your mental health and we’re going to look in detail at three examples: approaching problems from a different perspective, establishing connections with other people and finding a sense of purpose. If you have struggled with any of these before, make sure to read the below section in detail.
1. Approach problems from a different perspective
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Creativity can help you see things from new perspectives: When dealing with something unpleasant, it can be hard to see things clearly because your brain is solely focused on the issue at hand. Creativity allows us to step back from whatever problem we’re facing and look at it through a new lens, which means that we might find new answers that we didn’t see before.
Creativity helps us solve problems: Sometimes, our problems seem unsolvable. But once we use our imaginations instead of just trying to logically figure them out (which isn’t always possible), we may discover new ways to tackle the issue instead of getting stuck where we started.
Creativity teaches us how to better handle emotions: Turn anger or sadness into something more positive, like an art piece or poem. Or even just talking about your emotions with a family member or friend can help you better understand what’s happening inside your head.
2. Establish connections with other people
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash
Loneliness can be harmful to your mental health. Studies show that loneliness is linked to specific mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, especially if you have suffered from loneliness for a long time.
You may need to get your creative juices flowing if you’re having trouble connecting with others. A creative mindset allows you to express yourself in a unique, genuine, and personal way that’s incredibly appealing to others.
When you meet someone for the first time, instead of just asking them what they do for a living or where they are from, ask them what they like to do in their free time. These questions will give you a better idea of who they are and what they’re into. If you share specific interests or hobbies, this could help create an instant bond.
At Design Cuts we put our community at the heart of everything we do, and for this reason we have created our very own Community Hub. as a place where people can come together, to learn, share and get to know each other. Here you can get feedback on your design work, improve your design skills by taking part in weekly design challenges or just enjoy a chat with like minded people.
3. Find a sense of purpose
Photo by Danica Tanjutco on Unsplash
Creativity can help you feel like you have a purpose in life. When we’re creative, we often think that what we’re doing is meaningful and important to us and the rest of the world around us.
Use creative hobbies as an outlet
Photo by Victoria Bilsborough on Unsplash
Dedicating time to creative activities and hobbies significantly impacts mental health.
Whether writing,drawing a cute dog, or playing your favorite games or sports, enjoying your favorite hobbies has many benefits for everyone. Even more so if you are struggling on a mental health journey, for example, engaging in your favorite activities can help you achieve a state of “flow.” “Flow is the way people describe their state of mind when consciousness is harmoniously ordered, and they want to pursue whatever they are doing for its own sake” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990, p.3).
If your passion lies in the arts, creating beautiful murals in the center of your town will make you feel like your work is meaningful and that you are bringing smiles to everyone who walks by your colorful display. And even if your talents lie in another field of creativity (like writing or coding), there’s still a sense of purpose: what you do matters and impacts other people’s lives.
Below we list a few activities you can enjoy and which will help you alleviate stress and improve your mood and mental health.
1. Play Video Games
Video games are one of the many popular activities that people use to achieve “flow” and improve mental health. Playing video games, whether console or pc games, improves problem solving skills and critical thinking, relieves stress, and provides a sense of accomplishment when you reach goals. Even though there are misconceptions about the effects of video games on mental health, plenty of studies prove the many benefits.
Also, they’re accessible and convenient, as you can find cheap alternatives or bring portable consoles or laptops with you everywhere. For many people, video games help them achieve an excellent state of flow, which is undoubtedly positive for their well being.
Many professional gamers start streaming or playing popular video games as a creative outlet to relieve stress. And now, many of them have found a way to create a full-time job out of a simple hobby. Find something you enjoy doing and spend your time improving your craft.
2. Drawing and Painting
For example, drawing reduces stress and anxiety by giving you a safe, private space to express your thoughts and feelings. It’s a way to get in touch with your emotions without the pressure of having to articulate them verbally. You can draw whatever you want — it doesn’t have to be good or even make sense. And it’s not just some abstract process, either — drawing helps us focus on the details of what we’re seeing around us.
If you are in need of some inspiration for your next drawing, painting or scrapbooking project, please check our Tutorials Section on our Learning Hub and search for the activity you’d like to try first.
Photography is another hobby that helps put your mind at ease. When you take photos, you’re forced to step back from everything else going on in your life and focus on the moment. You can’t be distracted by other things because you have to focus on what’s happening in front of the camera lens. The act of taking photos also helps with relaxation and stress reduction because it gives your mind something fun to do while also giving your body physical activity by walking around when taking pictures.
4. Watching your favourite TV show
Having a TV package subscription and flipping from channel to channel usually doesn’t directly benefit our mental health. But choosing channels with programs that make us laugh, relax or learn something new helps create positive emotions and gives us a new topic of conversation to use when meeting new people.
And according to Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, “experiencing positive emotions can have a long-term, sustainable impact on well-being. When we feel good, our minds open, and our awareness broadens – making us more able to think creatively.”
So the next time you’re mad at yourself for watching Friends or The Office for the millionth time, don’t stress about it. Think of it as a simultaneous calming effect that’ll indirectly help you build future social connections and foster creativity.
What is the lesson here? Anything is possible in this world. If you feel lost, channel your energy into building a creative mindset and focusing on your favorite hobby. It isn’t a wasted time if it makes you feel happy. And you never know what could come of it.
A creative mindset is a way of thinking, not a talent. You don’t have to be born with it. It’s about learning to see the world differently, approaching problems from unexpected angles, and spotting opportunities where others don’t see them. This can be applied to all areas of life — personal or professional — whether finding solutions to problems or simply looking at things from an alternative perspective.
Maintaining a creative mindset is essential for anyone seeking to improve their mental health. Looking at problems from different angles, being open to new ideas and experiences, and working towards long-term goals are all ways that creativity can help you manage stressors in your life.
Creativity allows you to express yourself and do things that you enjoy. Isn’t that what life is all about?
About The Author Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, content marketing, and SEO. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Content Solutions, a digital marketing agency. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.
For more on the creative process, see previous posts here.