Being creative boosts your wellbeing, say researchers

There are certain ingredients for a healthy lifestyle. We know we must eat nutritious food, we must exercise regularly, we must get enough of sleep… But what about creativity? What if activities such as writing a poem, painting a picture or knitting a scarf were seen as vital to our wellbeing?

I can’t wait for the day when doctors routinely prescribe doses of creativity to help relieve us! A short story course to manage depression. A poetry course to bring chronic pain under control. (These things are already out there, I’d like to add!). Until then, I’ll embrace any acknowledgement that creativity plays a role in enhancing our wellbeing.

Researchers at the University of Otago, New Zealand explored the link between creativity and emotional wellbeing in a study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology. The researchers analysed the daily experiences and emotions of 658 university students. When the students took part in a creative activity – such as songwriting, creative writing, knitting, painting and drawing, or even designing new recipes – they felt better emotionally the following day.

That a creative activity can make us feel good straight after doing it may not be a surprise. But that it boosts our wellbeing a day later is fascinating. Imagine the impact if we were regularly nurturing our creative sides. We would be in an “upward spiral”, as the researchers put it, of creativity and wellbeing.

Creative activities may not be making routine appearances on prescription pads just yet, but we can still recognise and celebrate their importance in our own lives. I’ll certainly continue to carve out time for creative fun, because I know it is vital to my own wellbeing.

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