Creativity and Wellbeing


The problem with the word creativity is that it has a certain amount of expectation included with it. Wikipedia says “Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed.”  There is a expectation that something new would be therefore something grand like a new theory of relativity or another fabulous painting, a stunningly original best-seller, a work of art or even a wonderful song that will take the world by storm.  The reality for us all is that being creative is about making their own unique piece of work.  It doesn’t have to become a worldwide best seller, or even a storm in a very local teacup.  It’s our own creation and ours to celebrate and enjoy. 

It may be a creation of something that had the format already mapped out – a pattern.  Even if it is, you are learning the steps and format of how to build or create something.  What you build or create is your own unique version of that which the pattern writer produced.  This is your version and it is unique.

You don’t have to be Einstein, Edison or Michelangelo to be creative.  You just have to create.  That is what creativity is.  It’s creating things. There is a current mode for using the word maker which probably sits more comfortably with many people.  Whatever you want to call it, it’s still being creative. 

There is significant research that shows that creative activity of any form can provide a number of direct benefits.  The BBC has run a campaign for the last few years called ‘Get Creative’ that encourages people to take part in a wide range of creative activities.  Participants were involved in a wide variety of activities including, singing, sewing, painting and pottery, jewelery making or writing and many more. Part of the programme included an online survey asking people for the reasons that they took part and what effect their participation had on their mood or emotional state.  Almost 50,000 people answered and the results showed that even a short time spent on a creative pastime had an impact on both wellbeing and emotions.  The research was carried out by the University College London and there is a full report freely available . 

icons for creativity, sewing, writing, photography, art, knitting and dancing.
Creativity can take many forms

The survey asked each participant to report if they used any specific ’emotion regulation strategies’ (ERS) when engaging in creative activities.  There were 31 ERS in total that included concentration, distraction, perceived sense of self, problem solving, reappraisal, and reflection. It identified three main ways we use creativity as coping mechanisms to control our emotions:

  1. a distraction tool – avoiding stress by focusing on the craft or pastime,
  2. a contemplation tool – reassessing problems, challenges or decisions and making plans,
  3. self-development – increase self-esteem and confidence by facing challenges

It showed that trying new activities at any level was particularly good for well being and self esteem.  It really is the taking part that counts.

Attributions for icons used in the images above.

  • Writing by David Glöckler from the Noun Project
  • Knitting by Oleksandr Panasovskyi from the Noun Project
  • Dance by Nhor from the Noun Project
  • Photography by LAUREN from the Noun Project
  • Sewing by Studio GLD from the Noun Project
  • Art by Viral faisalovers from the Noun Project
  • Creativity by ProSymbols from the Noun Project


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