Creative activities and health.
We have seen in a previous post what creativity is not.
Briefly, it is not mechanical repetition of a process or process without new ideas, it is not imitating or copying without learning (and then doing with a personal style), it is not always following rules and conventions, it is not lacking originality, it is not having predictable solutions, it is not having predefined formulas, it is not lack of mental effort, it is not (always) randomness, it is not lack of discovery, nor lack of value or meaning.
Anything that is not creativity cannot generate benefit for us and thus affect our physical and mental well-being.
Generating new ideas, combining contrasting concepts, seeking originality, being open to the new, in a word: innovating, brings pleasure and thus both physical and mental well-being.
It is now confirmed by scientists that going to museums and exhibitions is a major boost to our endorphins, the famous neuro transmitters of happiness.
The study by Cotter and Pawelski of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania tells us that going to museums is like taking anti-depressant medication without the side effects.
It reduces stress: cortisol (a hormone associated with stress) decreases markedly.
The emotions associated with viewing works of art affect the well-being of those with dementia, cognitive disorders and in the elderly population.
Cheerfulness, lightheartedness, relief increases. Breathing is slower and heart rate decreases.
It also increases connection with others: it makes us aware of sharing something with the rest of society.
Why feel better with creativity.
Art is a fundamental tool for discovering who we are. There is no need to create works of art and make a job out of it. Confronting our memories, feelings and emotions that have accompanied us throughout our lives can have a remarkable healing effect.
It is no accident that many doctors recommend keeping a journal where we write down everything that goes through our minds.
Writing is healing; it brings back dormant thoughts that are at the root of problems we were not aware of. So are good memories or reflections we don’t usually make.
But drawing also discharges neurosis and stress and calms us down.
Art creation can be relaxing and we can consider it a form of meditation.
Emotional well-being inevitably benefits the physical.
Writing, drawing, painting, dancing, playing music, gardening, knitting, creating pottery and a thousand other ways of moving our hands and bodies as well as our minds increase and stimulate our imagination and make us seek new ways to express the feelings we perceive.
Paths are opened that we do not know when and how much they will change us, and this openness to nothingness is a stimulus to change our perceptions.
Our cognitive abilities improve, our critical thinking is more involved.
New skills are learned.
And the more we learn to master a technique we enjoy, the more self-esteem increases.
It is not only about improving technical skills but also a challenge with oneself about improving in what we do to overcome the limitations we feel we have.
It is a challenge with oneself on something that stimulates us and thus without the stress of competition.
Personal satisfaction takes over and our body becomes more elastic and present in space.
Have you noticed how posture changes when we feel more present in the world and more aware of who we are?
To feel like a student is to feel younger and to feel part of a broader community: interacting with different cultures and habits stimulates us to change certain parameters and add a creative drive to our lives.
This creates unprecedented connections and fosters a social glue that brings novelty.
Being part of a community that creates something or has a passion for exhibitions and museums makes us more communicative, more curious and promotes dialogue between different cultures. In this the unknown is an opportunity to create a neutral ground for comparison.
Those who like to cook will find room for novel recipes created with new ingredients or processes. Those who love music will be able to learn chords they have never tried or musical instruments they do not know.
And then there is the fun of learning new languages and learning about new artistic languages.
In many cities around the world we go to get to know neighborhoods renowned for their beauty.
These are often places where different cultures have stratified, where buildings, stores, public spaces, have been created over time by cultures different from each other.
Creativity that brings well-being also comes through the transformation of the environment. Art around us living in cities makes everything more beautiful: urban spaces with parks, sculptures in squares: we are stimulated to beauty and we move to discover cities. Our bodies move and our senses are stimulated by beauty.
Creativity in cities affects the well-being of people and thus the whole community.
The urban environment when properly improved, beautified, made functional and open to cultures, makes us all more creative and helps us feel better. Urban art therefore creates benefits for the individual and the community.
Coming together in an urban redevelopment project creates connections between different creativities and brings creativity itself into the midst of people who will in turn improve spaces. I think it is almost a chain reaction that starts with the individual and then multiplies exponentially.
This formula both personal and altruistic is an aesthetic enrichment that lasts.
Our bodies and minds benefit, our daily lives are filled with beauty, and we draw inspiration from the environment. It is no accident that many neighborhoods inhabited by artists become an attractive hub for a city’s residents.
Where there is creativity there is well-being and development.
If art and creativity improve both our physical and mental health, then we need to reflect on the fact that they work when they challenge and disrupt our ingrained beliefs.
If change makes our lives more open to creativity, then opening up to social, cultural and political exchange means renewing the way we see things and connections.
Innovating, reinventing, seeing with new eyes, unhinging rules, creating new ones: it rejuvenates us, makes us contemporary and helps us fit into a society younger than ourselves.
All in the direction of personal growth, psycho-physical improvement and an ever-increasing state of well-being.
Whether we are artists or mere users of art, whether we measure ourselves with creativity with shyness, we all always gain something from exploration and research. Making room for other cultures, making them our own to expand the ones we already know: a bit like adding new colors to a personal palette or new ingredients in a recipe or new dance steps.
The benefits of art and creativity are vast, and there is much more to explore.
Let’s start by taking a walk to make the best of our surroundings. I am sure that something creative and artistic is right before our eyes every day. Just start and never stop.
—> If you want to read me text in Italian, click HERE.