The Important Wellness Benefits Of Having A Creative Outlet

Even if you don't consider yourself a creative person, we're all capable of creativity. It's one of the things that makes humans unique. From the beginning of time, creativity has been essential to our survival on Earth. We're still constantly making things in the modern world, always inventing and advancing. While we need the sciences to keep civilization moving forward, art and creativity add beauty and meaning to the world. It's what truly makes life worth living.


There are endless ways to express creativity, whether it's through intellectual outlets like writing stories or journaling, artistic and musical pursuits, or hands-on activities like cooking, gardening, knitting, or crafting. Even something as simple as coloring can be a creative outlet. Making time for hobbies is hard but important, and you don't have to be an expert or prodigy to enjoy something. Do it simply because it makes you feel good. When we open ourselves up to art and self-expression, the rewards are priceless.

Creativity fosters self-expression

Our ability to express our emotions and personalities is essential to our wellbeing. We express ourselves through everything we do — what we wear, the foods we cook, the music we listen to, and how we engage with others. It's important to have an outlet where you can freely be yourself. 


Even the ugly things we don't like to feel, like sorrow, anger, and guilt need to be expressed in a healthy way. Repressing or bottling up your emotions makes you feel worse over time, often leading to worsened mental health conditions and even physical symptoms like digestive issues, muscle tension, sleep problems, and appetite changes, per Healthline.

It hurts us when we're unable to express ourselves. If you grew up in a home where you didn't feel safe to express your thoughts and emotions, maybe you turned to writing in a journal or writing a song as a coping mechanism, putting your thoughts into words on a page. This could translate to the workplace as well, when we often have to put a professional mask over ourselves. But when we come home, it's good to have something that we enjoy doing. Creative mediums allow us to make things out of our emotions, the positive and the negative.


Learn something new

Childhood isn't the only time we have to try a new hobby. Even when we grow up and finish school, we're still constantly learning about the world around us. Our brains have the ability to change and adapt throughout our lives when we give ourselves the opportunities to do so. In the neuroscience world, this concept is known as neuroplasticity (via Healthline). It helps explain how traumatic brain injury survivors are able to heal over time with therapies. Learning a new hobby, especially an artistic one, is a fantastic way to increase this plasticity in our everyday lives. In fact, 2015 research from the NeuroImage journal found that visual art can improve our brain's functions and make us more creative.


Not only can we grow our brains through creative hobbies, but we can grow as individuals. Rather than going through the motions and the same old routines, try learning a new skill, even if it's out of your comfort zone. Remember, you don't have to be perfect at it to enjoy it. It can be overwhelming at first, but with small steps, you can find and commit to a hobby that adds more meaning and value to your life.

Make social connections

If your creative outlet is the one moment you have to yourself during the week, then it makes sense to want to partake in it by yourself. We all need some "me time." But you can utilize your hobbies as a way of connecting with others, too. You can share your creativity with the people in your life, encouraging them to join in as well. If you love painting, maybe you can bring a friend to a local art class. Maybe you can dedicate some time on a weekend to cook a new recipe together with your family. 


Your hobbies can create new, lasting friendships, expanding your circle to people who share similar interests with you. If you love reading, maybe there's a book club in your area to join. If you miss the community that came with your school band or choir, check out local community bands for adult musicians. Humans are not only naturally creative, but we are social beings as well. Let your creativity spark new relationships in your life. 

Art improves mental health

Among the hobbies that benefit your mental health, art is certainly one of them. Drawing, painting, pottery, coloring, or any medium you choose can help you relieve stress and escape from the hectic world for a while. In a 2016 study from the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, researchers asked adult participants to engage in 45 minutes of art making. The results indicated a significant decrease in the stress hormone cortisol. In the participants' written responses about the study, they reported the experience to be "relaxing, enjoyable, helpful for learning about new aspects of self, freeing from constraints, and about flow/losing themselves in the work."


Creative activities allow us to enter a state of "flow," a term popularized by positive psychologists Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and Jeanne Nakamura, according to Headspace. If you've ever felt fully entrenched in something you enjoyed doing, as if you lost track of time and nothing could distract you from the task, you may have experienced flow. It's good for us to enter this state, as we feel motivated and fulfilled by what we're doing. One 2016 study published in Frontiers in Psychology examined the effects of flow and found that this state of mind even helps us maintain a strong sense of personal identity.