People often undertake writing, drawing, dancing, acting, and other creative pursuits because they tend to enjoy them. Everyone knows that creativity is good for everyone, and having creative patterns can make people happy. But what does science say about the usefulness of creativity?
Some of you pursue creative activities in leisure time while others adopt them as their hobby. However, irrespective of the road taken for unleashing your imagination, it is quite clear that it is part and parcel of the human nature to make things.
Humans have been creating different things since prehistoric times. Our ancestors left their initial marks over 39,900 years ago in the form of crude drawings and outlines of their hands on the walls of caves.
It can be truly said that the need to produce different things runs in our blood and has served us for a long duration of time. Humans have learned how to create and use tools, cook food, set bones, and make medications to treat different diseases.
Lately, a lot of research in the field of science has suggested that being creative can be quite beneficial for our well-being, both mental and physical.
Mentioned below are some benefits that the creative endeavors such as dancing and writing can bring.
Improving Mental Health
Painting, drawing, or molding objects using clay has been proved to help people handle different types of trauma. It is said that art can help people to express experiences which are otherwise a lot tougher to be put into words. One such example is the diagnosis of cancer.
Artistic self-expression is also thought to contribute to the reconstruction or the maintenance of a positive identity.
A lot of studies have declared that expressive writing, in which the participants need to narrate to an event and describe its effects on them, can aid people in overcoming negative emotions and dealing with trauma.
In a manner similar to that of the visual expression, expressive writing permits the people to ponder over negative situations and integrate them into their life story. This helps them create meaning for events that can leave indelible marks on their life. Such events include a violent experience, the death of a loved one, or a medical diagnosis.
A particular study interviewed different males that survived childhood abuse and gave them a chance to write about their experiences. A specialized trauma therapy was also provided in conjugation. This helped these individuals to make sense of the trauma in personal ways.
Immediate Effects versus Long-term Advantages
It has been noticed that a person that uses writing to express his experiences may feel an increase in his negative emotions as he tries to recall bad memories. However, the effects are highly positive when I come to the long-term changes, as per a review.
The immediate effects of expressive writing include a short-term increase in negative emotion, distress, and physical symptoms. This is followed by a decrease in the positive mood.
However, a lot of studies have confirmed health benefits of expressive writing in various individuals through self-reported physical and emotional health outcomes.
Expressive writing does not only help with negative emotions and trauma. A study conducted in 2001 has found that people who were asked to explain their positive experiences and express about their “best self” that they want to become in future experienced an increase in their psychological well-being.
Similar effects have been noted in another study that asked the individuals to express their “intensely positive experiences.
Research also supports the fact that writing things down can increase the process of memorization and learning.
However, if you decide to take a shortcut and type your ideas instead of actually writing them down, this might not do much good to you. Researchers are of the viewpoint that you need to follow the old-fashioned style of writing with a paper and a pen to learn efficiently.
Writing is not the only way to improve your brain health. According to Albert Einstein, music was a huge part of his life and that he would have been a musician if he had not been a physicist.
It does appear that creating music can have a marked impact on the communication between different areas of human brain.
A 2014 review suggests that individuals with musical skills i.e. who have learned how to play a certain instrument can improve the connectivity between the two brain hemispheres.
Another creative pursuit that can improve cognition is play-acting. A 2004 study has found that older individuals participating in theatre performances were found to have improved psychological well-being only after 4 weeks. They also exhibited an improved cognitive functioning.
In particular, the participants were found to experience better listening and word recall in addition to an improvement in the problem-solving capabilities.
Physical health benefits
Various studies have indicated that people who write about their traumatic experiences tend to exhibit a significant improvement in different measures of physical health, a decrease in visits to a doctor, and enhancement of the immune system.
A randomized study trial involving people with HIV indicated that expressive writing can help them boost their immune system.
While the reason still remains unclear, people who expressed their emotions and experiences on a daily basis exhibited an improvement in their CD4+ lymphocyte count. These lymphocytes are the basic components of the immune system and are commonly targeted by an immunodeficiency virus.
Writing is also seen to aid in the management of chronic pain. People that deal with different painful conditions seem to improve their pain control and tolerance after expressing the feelings of anger. Moreover, a decrease in the pain sensitivity is also observed in them.
Music therapy also has an immune boosting effect. Music tends to affect our brain in different ways, stimulates the limbic system, and moderates the responses towards stressful stimuli.
These regions of the brain are involved in different hormonal processes and mood regulation. In fact, they also play a significant role in inflammatory responses. Listening to music can restore the functioning of the immune system through the actions of hypothalamus and amygdala.
Dance and the Body
Creativity can be a mobile endeavor and this mobility can bring about its own benefits. For example, a study that focused on breast cancer indicated that dancing can improve the functions of the shoulder in the participants and may even have a positive effect on their body image.
Additionally, dancing can also be a great way to stay in shape. Aerobic dances and Zumba programs can improve the triglyceride levels and blood pressure in addition to weight management.
A 2017 study has found that aerobic dancing together with hip-hop can improve the psychological moods and lower the fatigue levels in the participants.
Creativity is said to be the ultimate way of reigning chaos in and extracting the usefulness out of it.
So, what if you can bring order to your physical and mental states just by smudging journaling, painting? Why not boost your brain activity and memorization by learning how to play guitar? Or how about enrolling in aerobic dancing and enjoy a boost in mental health as you dance your way towards fitness? Its high time you take advantage of all these activities and finally make way for more art into your life.