Getting creative is one of the best ways to manage the pandemic blues. According to mental health experts, when we place our attention on a creative activity, we stop focusing on negative thoughts, fears and worries.
Engaging in activities like gardening, photography, writing, playing an instrument or drawing triggers the reward system in our brain. This causes the release of chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters. These “feel good” chemicals alter our mood and can help to ward off depression. They can even motivate those of us normally resistant to engaging in such pastimes or hobbies to want to do the activity again.
Each creative activity affects us in different ways. For some, fitness is the trigger and going for walks in nature, dancing or cycling brings the desired uplifting response. Others benefit from writing with an emphasis on a narrative, as in a journal or blog. According to Dr. Carlson who leads John Hopkins Lab devoted to Brain Health, writing has proven to “lower our stress, help us organize our thinking and free up space in our brain”.
Playing an instrument can improve our memory, while reading, playing board games or doing puzzles can prevent dementia later in life.
Gardening and interacting with nature has been recognized to improve our mood, reduce anger, and improve our general psychological well-being. This state of being can be attained when working with house plants, a balcony garden as well as in an outdoor setting.
Scientists suggest that we “mix up” our creative initiatives, combining some physical activity with other interests to benefit both our body and mind. They also remind us that we don’t have to be an expert to derive the benefits. We just have to get creative and play.