Whilst being creative is not one of NEF’s five ways to well-being we have added it because it delivers so much. Getting involved in arts, crafts or any sort of creativity can provide confidence, self-fulfilment and enjoyment.
Being creative can provide positive emotion, engagement, meaning and accomplishment.
Being creative will make you feel better. Studies suggest that creative people are happier than others. Increasing the amount of positive emotion creates dopamine and reduces adrenaline and cortisol, which is good for your health. People who have higher levels of happiness and wellbeing are healthier, have stronger immune systems and are quicker to recover from illness. They are also more successful, more resilient, more caring and more socially engaged.
Creativity can be used as an agent for transformation. People flourish through the creative process, experiencing a reduction in stress, an increase in mental abilities, and more energy, engagement, confidence and motivation.
Higher levels of engagement correlate to higher levels of wellbeing – and flow is the highest level of engagement we can possibly have in an activity. To experience flow you must be doing something challenging with full concentration and with a clear goal in mind.
Making a commitment to being creative every day is one of the secrets to living a happy life. It is a type of flourishing. The creation of art – authentic imaginative self-expression – provides the most benefit, but there’s all sorts of ways to add creativity to your life. It can be as simple as taking a photo or cooking up a new recipe. It could be making a wooden bowl or pottery. It could be designing a logo for a local club or making cards for your family and friends.
Research shows that it is the process of creativity that is important to positive psychological development, not the quality of the end work. Being talented doesn’t make a difference when it comes to being creative – just doing something creative contributes to your psychological growth. So don’t worry about what you are making, or what others might think of it, and just enjoy the process of making. With practice, you can use creative processes to create deeper and longer-lasting change.
Being creative can make you feel more alive. The most important aspect of the creative process is to be in the present and enjoy yourself. If you take time afterwards to appreciate what you’ve made, you will amplify your positive emotions and the positive affect on your wellbeing.