8 Creative Activities to Promote Well-Being

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Many of us have creative hobbies and activities that we usually don’t have time to pursue when we’re working.  Well, now we suddenly have plenty of time, and we all desperately need some stress relief.  Our creative hobbies are more than just idle past times.  Recent studies have shown that creative leisure activities don’t just make us feel good in the moment, but actually boost our overall sense of well-being.  Enjoyable leisure activity, even low movement activities such as cooking, knitting, and playing instruments, has also been found to lower blood pressure and provide stress relief.  Creative activities are positively associated with mastery, control, relaxation, and increased job creativity.

One study found 5 particular creative activities that related to increased well-being.  I would add another 3 activities of my own, for a total of 8.

8 Creative Activities to Promote Well-Being in This Time of Stress

  1. Knitting

A few years ago, I booked a modeling job at a convention for yarn retailers.  We modeled fabulous knit wear created by master knitters and made with some incredibly distinctive yarns.  Much of the audience was knitting while we walked the runway, and barely glanced up at us.  Knitters are devoted to their craft and will knit just about anywhere.  They also love to post their creations on Pinterest.  If you’re a knitter, you’re probably in overdrive knitting right now and it’s benefiting your well-being, so carry on.  And be sure to post your creations on Pinterest.  I’ll follow your board.

2. Cooking and Baking

People are cooking more now than they have in years, but some of us have always enjoyed expressing our creativity through cooking.  Baking is also enjoying a resurgence and it's been shown to help relieve stress and anxiety.  That's probably why flour is so hard to find on supermarket shelves right now.  It’s even scarcer than toilet paper.  Cooking and baking sooth our souls, as well as feed us.  And we need all kinds of nourishment for our well-being at the moment.

3. Painting and Drawing

Many people who excel in a particular creative pursuit also paint and draw as a hobby.  The act of creating, refining and continuing to grow as an artist provides creative fulfillment, decreases stress and increases well-being.  Tony Bennett and Jim Carey both paint, and Carey has gone viral on Twitter more than once with his recent political satire art.  Artists throughout history have used their art for social commentary, as well as self-expression, which seems like a great stress reliever to me.  No need to rant on social media when you can paint instead.

4. Playing an Instrument

Mastering an instrument has been shown to be a big confidence builder and can be a fulfilling life-long creative endeavor.  Often adults return to playing an instrument they played as children or begin learning a different instrument.  My husband Warren is playing guitar and slowly mastering the instrument he always wanted to learn to play.  Unfortunately, he’s also accumulated too many guitars in the process, but I won’t go on about that now.  YouTube videos are a great resource for learning an instrument, and you can learn online and continue to improve while staying at home, and increase your well-being in the process.  And if you’re searching for a guitar to buy, I’m your contact.

5. Writing

Remember all the term papers we had to write in high school and college?  Some of us still manage to like or even love writing in spite of all the tedious papers we had to write.  Writing is a totally absorbing past time for many of us writers, as it’s impossible to think of anything else while we’re writing.  Reading and writing go hand in hand, and both are beneficial for relaxation and well-being.  Today I even get to use a computer instead of the clunky typewriter I used in high school and college.  I won’t tell you how long ago that was, but that machine belongs in the Smithsonian.

6. Dancing

There is no more joyful creative activity for me than dancing.  I grew up taking dance lessons, as I was a figure skater.  I continued taking jazz, tap and modern dance as an adult.  The physicality of dance combined with the learning of choreography for various dance routines is terrific for de-stressing.  Dancing is also a great workout that will help you sleep better, too.

7. Gardening

Some people just seem to have an affinity for gardening and everything they plant thrives.  If you’ve ever wanted to plant a garden but never had the time, give it a try.  It will definitely lower your stress level.  I have a small planter box garden and nurturing my plants has been a rewarding experience, in both personal satisfaction as well as the edible bounty that the garden provides.   Gardening can be a very creative pursuit and provides a feeling of accomplishment when your tiny seedlings start to grow.  Even if you only have space a small flower pot, you can garden.

8. Improv

There’s a scientific basis for what happens to your brain when you improvise. One study of jazz musicians improvising melodies found that during improv, the brain de-activates the area involved in self-censoring and inhibition and heightens activity in the region associated with self-expression.  Improv increases creativity.  That’s one of the reasons I attend an improv class every week.  You need no special skills to try improv and it’s a lot of fun.  I’ve even been doing an online improv class during this period of social distancing.  It’s a great confidence builder, too.  As we say in improv, ‘Got your back!’

So here’s to our creative hobbies.  They’re more essential than ever in this time of anxiety and social isolation.  Feel free to share what you’re doing to stay creatively engaged.




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