Have you ever felt completely absorbed in an activity? Commonly people doing physical exercise like jogging or swimming describe that feeling of being ‘in the zone’, and that’s one of the greatest benefits of exercising. There are plenty of other activities you may get that feeling from – gardening, cooking, crafting – something that means you’re fully involved, enjoying the process, and gaining a deep sense of satisfaction.
Repetitive creative motions like knitting, drawing, or writing help activate flow, and are all tasks that create a result. And when you succeed at creating a result, no matter what it is, the sense of satisfaction floods your brain with dopamine, that natural anti-depressant.
This idea of being in flow, and the benefits for good mental health and wellbeing, has been studied by psychologist Milhaly Csikszentmihalyi. The effects are similar to meditation with focused concentration on the present moment, absorbing our minds so we have little sense of time and our thoughts are not wandering off into the past or the future. Creativity reduces anxiety, depression, and stress… And it can also help process trauma.
It really is a win-win that creative activities that make us feel good, really are good for us. So grab a pen and start writing, doodling, or colouring. Get messy with pottery, baking or gardening. Listen to some music, or pick up an instrument. Whatever you decide to do, it’s time to start getting creative!