Lets Explore... Some of The Benefits of Being Creative
People often say that making things is good for you. It's no secret that adult colouring has really taken off in recent years even before the pandemic, and lots of people were finding that sitting and doing something for themselves in a quiet and calming setting was really helpful. There are many, sometimes unexpected outcomes of taking part in being creative and especially at the moment it may be something you have found you have got into more (or less) than before lock-down.
There can be some surprising perks from creating regularly and here are some that we think are particularly interesting and are maybe things you might not have thought of..... We've broken some of these down into inside and outside of a therapy setting - just to give you a bit of incite (in case your we're curious) about how these two different areas might work.
Self motivated creativity
Resourcefulness and problem solving - the nature of being creative means you are actively responding and interacting with materials in a way that you may not necessarily have done before. Part of this will be a kind of heuristic learning process, this just means learning by the action of doing it yourself and learning as you go along rather than being told what to do. You may be faced with 'problems' along the lines of I want to do this but I don't know how or I would like this to look a certain way and you will figure out how to do that.
Positive Risk taking - The thing with being creative is that it may not always come out the way you want it too but making something in a creative way is never a waste of time or a failure. each time you take a leap of faith into a creative journey you are learning along the way and you may not be pleased with the way the outcome looks - but you will still have learnt a lot in the process which will influence how you make things in future. There is a similarity between faith (in this case in the creative process) and fear in a the sense that they are often demand a belief and response to something that isn't able to be seen. I really enjoyed this video where Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of 'Eat, Pray, Love' and my favourite book - 'Big Magic') talk a bit about the dance of creativity.
Stress reduction and calming (even a rest!) - this may seem to contradict the statements above but is also a realistic outcome of being creative. Often, if the circumstances are correct and you can be mindful of your expectations and be kind to yourself in a sense that you can just 'enjoy' the creative part - then there are significant gains to be made. Think about it as next level doodling, no-one ever worries about wasting paper or materials for a doodle they just do it because its satisfying. If you are able to engage with a non-pressure approach it can just be enjoyable and the final outcome doesn't have to be so significant. The reason that adult colouring is so popular is that it is perceived as a simple a repetitive task with a no wrong answer approach so people can settle into it and let their mind wander and relax. I talked about this a bit more here in one of my early blog posts.
Feelings of having achieved and accomplished something! - You might be really pleased, and in fact surprised with what you are able to achieve. The fact of the matter is most artists however it is they work have honed their skills and practice over many years! It is just about doing it. Everybody learns and makes things in a different way and you can be proud of how you have spent your time and what you have achieved. Good on you!
Within Art Therapy
Artwork made within art therapy is a bit different. Usually the art materials can be used to express or process ways of feeling or experiences that can be difficult to express using words alone. Its less likely in therapy that you will have an idea of the outcome at the end when you start using the materials - the idea being that they are a tool to express whatever may be going on for you, in your own world. Our motivations aren't to make something pretty or even to be seen by anyone outside of the room, it's used more as a map or a prompt to explore some of the elements that appear and want some attention. The artwork can be used to aid discussion and focus - as an open discussion and exploration. Not as a regimented assumption of 'this means this' or as a diagnostic tool.
Making something physical and tangible with your hands is a great way of processing and thinking something through. You may be able to look at things in a whole new way using the image to guide the discussion. The artwork and the act of making it may be able to tap into some thoughts or feelings that you weren't aware were there and can help to give more space to things that are asking for some attention.
Emotional Self Expression
Emotions can be tricky - sometimes you can feel totally overwhelmed when someone asks you how you are, or if you are OK, especially when maybe things aren't feeling so great. Thinking about things in the form of images and metaphors can sometimes really help to be able to understand how you feel without having to say it out loud when you either can't put it into words or just simply don't want to. Think of drawing an image about how you feel as just another way of communicating. For example - if you had to draw that feeling in your stomach, what colour would it be? Would it be spiky or soft? How big is it? etc and then looking at that feeling on the piece of paper might then make it more manageable to look at and process together in a more manageable way.
Processing, understanding and coping
Making something physical and tangible with your hands is a great way of processing and thinking something through. You may be able to look at the way you feel or an event that happened to you in a different way. You may find that you are able to understand your responses more and therefore able to apply coping strategies and mechanisms so that you can take more control in the situations in which you initially found your responses confusing. You might also find that thinking about how you felt whilst you were making the image helps you to understand a little bit about you and your responses - Was it a pleasant and mindful experience of did you find yourself making quickly and out of breath? These are also interesting ways of noting whats happening by focusing on your body.
I hope you found some of this useful - and we would love to hear from you. What is your creative practice? Is it new to you since lock-down, or something you have always done? Is it harder or easier during the pandemic to be creative?
Stay safe and e kind (to yourself and others)