As a kid, I loved to create. I was always taking things from nature and making art from them. My favorite items to work with were leaves and moss, but I would also draw from time to time. Somewhere along the way, I allowed my perfectionism and fear that I wasn't good at it to stop me from creating. As an adult, my most frequent creative outlet has been writing, however, I started dabbling a bit in painting and drawing again after my business coach encouraged me to take an abstract painting class. I had one-on-one time with the teacher who got me to loosen my grip on the pencils, and showed me techniques for making lighter lines and shading. He said there's no eraser, which freed me from my perfectionism for that hour. The teacher told me that when you are at a loss for what else to do to the piece, just leave it. Sometimes in life we try to force things, when the best thing to do is to stop and step away to gain a different perspective. When I got home from class, I experimented with the paints that I bought, and discovered that painting forces you to practice patience - to let some parts dry before rushing to put more on the canvas. We can gain health benefits from engaging in creative activities - whether that's making music, painting, drawing, sewing, or even cooking. Getting lost in an activity can be meditative and relieve stress. Creating something gives you a sense of accomplishment, and can improve your mood by giving you a boost of dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter.
Creative activities are not only great for emotional health, but they can improve the health of your brain. Dr. Lawrence Katz, a pioneer in neuron regeneration research, found that mental decline was due mainly to the loss of communication between brain cells, not from the death of brain cells themselves. In his book, Keep Your Brain Alive: 83 Neurobic Exercises to Help Prevent Memory Loss and Increase Mental Fitness, Katz introduces unique brain exercises that use the five senses in unexpected ways to stimulate the production of nutrients that keep the brain younger and stronger. When we engage in a new or complex activity, our brains create new connections. Making art involves communication between different parts of the brain, which can help prevent cognitive deterioration.
Sounds good to me! These are all good reasons to find time in your schedule to get creative. We want to hear from you - what is your favorite creative activity? Comment below.