Creativity can boost your mood and wellbeing, believes Imogen Bond, founder of Bumblebee Books.
I’m writing this as Boris Johnson is setting out the winter Covid plan: it looks set to be another bumpy ride. I don’t know about you, but my coping reserves feel pretty depleted already. So what can we do to help ourselves get through another potentially bleak winter?
One response could be to try something creative. Now, I know I would say that but hear me out!
A joint study of 50,000 people by the BBC and UCL in 2019 – the biggest ever carried out on the effects of creativity – found that even small amounts of creative activity could boost mood and wellbeing. The study found that being creative is effective in three ways:
• A distraction tool – to avoid or relieve stress.
• A contemplation tool – to give us the mind space to reflect on and reassess problems.
• A means of self-development to face challenges by building up self-esteem and confidence.
Most interestingly, they discovered the benefits were the same no matter the person’s skill level – it is the taking part that counts.
Taking part in group activities, such as singing in a choir or attending an art class, proved the most beneficial. They also tested whether a virtual group experience had the same impact (ground-breaking for 2019 before Zoom became the norm!) and discovered it was still beneficial, although face-to-face was best.
A coping mechanism
A cross-cultural research project carried out this year, which surveyed participants in China, the USA and Germany, looked specifically at whether creativity could be considered a useful tool for coping with the stresses of Covid. The answer was a resounding ‘yes’: creativity can positively impact crisis. Their biggest finding was that sharing creative output (even virtually!) helped participants develop feelings of social connectedness, which in turn positively impacted their wellbeing.
There’s a reason why so many of us enthusiastically embraced baking in lockdown: the physical activity is a great distraction tool. Whether you follow a recipe or not, there’s creative problem solving involved in getting the mix just right, and perhaps sharing our bakes on social media helped us feel connected in our more isolated reality.
So why not challenge yourself to pick up a paint brush, or try your hand at making a collage or a cake? A little creativity could do a lot to help you through.