On days off, she prioritizes creative pursuits. She makes collages out of artifacts from world travels to Turkey and South America. She takes dance classes. Photography provides another way to untangle her mind from the pressures of her daily teaching work.
Jessica says that creativity gives her a chance to play—to do something where the stakes are low and there’s no judgment. “Without these creative outlets I would be a lot less fun in the classroom and less open to the whimsical creativity of my students,” she says. “I’d definitely be more stressed out and wouldn’t enjoy teaching so much.”
As Jessica’s story shows, in a fast-paced world, creativity can be a fantastic tool for reducing stress. Whether we make collages, plant a garden, toss paint onto a canvas or play the guitar—stress tends to go out the window when we let our creativity run wild.
Why Incorporate Creativity into our Daily Lives?
According to Ruth Richards, author of Everyday Creativity, creativity is necessary and attainable for everyone. It is “one of the most powerful capacities we have, bringing us alive in each moment, affecting our health and wellbeing, offering richness and alternatives in what we do, and helping us move further in our creative and personal development.”
Exploring, experimenting, playing and entering the unknown—through anything from travel to taking an improv class to cooking—are all ways to practice creativity. You can also incorporate creativity into the workplace, finding ways to add spark and delight to otherwise mundane activities. For example, give yourself time to daydream at work if possible. Experiment with new ideas and ask questions. One newspaper editor encourages his staff to indulge their creative side through humor, listening to music and brainstorming sessions because it leads to better work, an assertion seconded by many business experts.
The Importance of “Flow”
Creativity also leads to experiencing “Flow,” which studies show is beneficial, says Elissa Bowes-Arbeitman, an art therapy consultant. “Flow refers to a state of being completely engaged in something to the point of being in a near meditative state, leaving you much less stressed when you are done. You can experience this feeling when you are doing creative activities like writing and gardening. You can also experience this feeling from engaging in the creative art-making process,” she says.
So, invent a new dessert, write a song or travel to Tuscany! It just might mean the difference between stressing out to the max—and getting sick in the process—or living out your days happier and healthier! What have you got to lose, other than your stress?