Being a doctor and a writer, it’s probably no surprise that I am interested in how two of my passions overlap.
There are clear links between creativity and wellness:
• The benefits of appreciating the creativity of others, how it makes us feel and what we can learn from it – art, music, photography, film and literature for example.
• Fulfilling your own need to be creative – be it one of the more traditional creative pursuits, or cooking a new dish, planting a garden bed or writing a Facebook post or tweet.
• The role of creative activities contributing to a range of benefits including to aid in learning and sharing of ideas, to reduce isolation, to foster companionship, to promote improved health and well-being, and even to reduce medication use and assist healing.
Photo by Mia Holton
There are comprehensive reviews of the literature which demonstrate the evidence, particularly those by:
• Dr Rosalia Lelchuk Staricoff (Arts in health: a review of the medical literature, Arts Council England, 2004);
• Heather L. Stuckey and Jeremy Nobel (The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature. Am J Public Health.2010 February;100(2): 254–263.);
• Dr Patricia Fenner, Dr Bruce Rumbold, Dr Jean Rumbold et al (Is there compelling evidence for using the arts in health care? 19/6/2012) and
• Christine Putland (ARTS AND HEALTH – A GUIDE TO THE EVIDENCE Background document prepared for the Arts and Health Foundation Australia, September 2012).
So the science is there with more research underway.
Strangely enough the “mad artist” seems just as common a stereotype as the “mad scientist”. Perhaps this is more about the eccentricity that others perceive when someone follows their calling to the exclusion of other pursuits. Or maybe we are all a little mad?
Ironically some of the most creative people I have met have been the best adjusted and are often multi-talented.
The things that will benefit us the most are often the ones we most actively resist. If you think you are not creative, are you the one suppressing your creativity the most?
Some will struggle to get started, to even come up with a creative pursuit they would like to try. Just try. If at first you feel that you can’t, expose your creative self to the creativity of others. For example, you could check out an art gallery, the theatre or a concert or explore poetry, art or music online. If you have kids, do something crafty together. It’s okay to play with different ideas – have some fun. If you feel blocked, try something else.
Many of us will have to grapple with our internal critic, whether just starting out or well along the creative path. Doubt is normal. Tell yourself it doesn’t matter what the quality is. If you don’t try you will have nothing to show. Start something and see how it evolves over time.
We all know to be healthy, we need to exercise and eat well. But do we understand the role that creativity plays?
Being creative is healthy and it is healthy to be creative. Encourage creativity in ourselves and in others; from the cradle to grave, in our buildings and in open spaces, in students and in professionals.
It’s almost like a marriage vow: from this day forward, for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health…
Does creativity matter to you?
What is your creative vow?
How you might make a change that promotes health and creativity ?
I’d love to hear from you if you’d like to share your thoughts on creativity and health.
With best wishes for your creative health and that of our community.