Creativity for health
Creativity can take many different forms, and my advice would be just doing what you love and trying new things until you find some activities that really make your heart sing. Here are some examples of activities that can bring you out of the mundane, and help you access that delicious right-brained frame of mind. This is where troubles and worries fall away and you are immersed in the act of creation, focused in the moment, fully engaged.
Creativity for Health
Blogging is something I have done at times over the last few years, and sometimes it falls by the wayside. I do enjoy it though and I am loving coming back to it again at this time.
Writing my illness story was difficult as I don’t like to think back over all the really hard times but writing about solutions is empowering. I am being ambitious by having it in a website format and the learning curve has been very steep. There are many ways to create a simpler blog, and I think it is an amazing way to share information, and get thoughts and feelings out there. It can improve your writing, get you reading and researching, connect you with new people and be therapeutic in itself. How wonderful if others choose to read it too!
Writing a book:
Writing a book is a big challenge, for sure, but by planning well and committing to a writing practice each day, you are well on the way. Just make a start!
2) Art Journaling
Art journaling is a similar to having a sketchbook but in my opinion, it goes deeper. An art journaling practice is done daily, if possible, and is a record of daily life, feelings and emotions. It can contain as much written journaling as one wishes or may just have a single word on the page or perhaps just an image.
As well as being extremely therapeutic, it is a wonderful way to experiment with art techniques, materials and ideas. It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake at all. You can use multiple layers and even cover over personal writing with paint. It is a wonderful thing to do if you are in a funk. Just getting the emotions out onto paper in written word or scribbling, or painting, feels very releasing. Then, it can be worked on further and often something different and beautiful comes through by the end, by which time you are feeling a whole lot better. It is an excellent way to work through creative blocks as there is no one to judge it and even if you don’t like what you have created that’s ok. It is an excellent way to bring in creativity for health and well-being.
Art journaling online:
There has been an explosion in the popularity of art journaling in the last 10 years and a multitude of websites are available online to give you inspiration. When I first started art journaling I really enjoyed watching lots of step-by-step youtube videos that gave me ideas for inspiration and taught me many mixed media techniques. Some of the artists that inspired me were Dyan Reaveley, France Papillon, Willowing, Effy Wild, Teesha Moore, and Jane Davenport.
Wanderlust is a year long online mixed media art journey with great classes and activities. Highly recommended. Book of Days with Effy Wild is a wonderful years worth of art journaling tutorials, and is supported by a loving online community.
Another option is Lifebook with Willowing which again has a year’s worth of inspiring art journaling videos with a gentle self-development aspect.
I also attended a local course with a group of women led by a psychotherapist in her gorgeous creative barn space. We experienced a therapeutic group process in the morning and then art journaled about it in the afternoon with her Aladdin’s cave of materials. The art journaling complemented the therapy really well. So if you are having any type of therapy, I encourage you to art journal about it. It gives your being a chance to integrate the new neural pathways, and work through any issues that have come up. Plus you have a visual record of the process you have gone through to look back on.
Art Journaling page above by Teesha Moore.
3) Touch Drawing
This is a technique that you may not have come across, but is so freeing and enjoyable that I have to list it here. Deborah Koff -Chapin brought this work to the world, and I was lucky enough to attend one of her workshops in the UK a number of years ago, although I had been experimenting with the process many years before. It basically involves using the tips of the fingers to draw onto paper from a meditative state, allowing whatever images wish to emerge, to flow onto the paper.
The technique involves rolling out ink onto a table or glass plate, and placing thin paper over the top. You place your fingers on top of the paper allowing them to move and create marks on the underside of the paper. When you peel the paper off and turn it over for viewing, the full magic is revealed.
Normally in a session one would draw a series of 10-20 drawings, each one flowing on from the last. It is also a great way to overcome creative blocks. The technique is simple, yet can produce some stunning images that speak to the soul and are unlike any other art I have seen. Have a look at my page about Touch Drawing and the Touch Drawing website for more information and galleries of Deborah’s amazing artwork.
When we sing we draw more air into the body, improving the oxygenation of our tissues and improving our breath capacity. Research done in the UK* shows that “the well-being benefits afforded by choral singing could be distinct in comparison with other leisure activities.” Singing together in a group creates an unusually strong bond, giving members the emotionally satisfying experience of temporarily “disappearing” into a meaningful, coherent body. It is an experience of “oneness” that is so valuable in these modern times and a heartwarming and uplifting way to make more connections with your community.
Physical benefits of singing in a choir include:
Having a lot of fun!
Heart Research UK‘s Sing For Your Heart programme has produced studies showing that singing in a group helps to reduce stress and depression, improve memory and reduce anxiety. Before lockdown singing groups were being utilised in care homes to help Alzheimer’s, for Parkinson’s patients and people with airways diseases.
Research with a Frankfurt choir** showed that they produced more antibodies in their blood, which enhanced their immune system. This is amazing news for those of us with autoimmune diseases. What a fun way to boost your immunity and enjoy musical creativity for health!
Of course, there are many other ways to play and enjoy music and sound. Check for local musical instrument classes, it is never too late to pick up a new hobby. Go to a local sound bath to absorb the healing frequencies of singing bowls and gongs. Details of my soundbaths. Drumming groups also provide health benefits and research done recently *** shows that drumming in groups improves anxiety, depression and even induces an anti-inflammatory response.
*** Effects of Group Drumming Interventions on Anxiety, Depression, Social Resilience and Inflammatory Immune Response among Mental Health Service Users Fancourt D, Perkins R, Ascenso S, Carvalho LA, Steptoe A, et al. (2016)
5) Soulful painting
Of course some tips along the way help you not to just end up with a mud coloured painting. I followed some of Flora Bowley‘s classes on Brave Intuitive painting which are so clear and helpful. She has a number of videos available on You Tube for free also. Years ago, I also read Aviva Gold’s book, Painting from the source This gives good step-by-step instructions on how to prepare the space for this sacred process, how to navigate the process and follow up on the experience and listen to the messages you have received.
How has creativity helped your health?