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How Being More Creative Improves Your Mental and Physical Health

How Being More Creative Improves Your Mental and Physical Health
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The science is in. Kids aren’t the only ones who need unstructured playtime and space to fuel their imagination. Adults could use more activities that require imagination and improvisation too, and now brain-imaging studies are showing exactly how creativity alters our brain chemistry and can boost our physical and mental health.

Time to Start Building Your Creative Capacity 

Did you know that reading the classics might be more helpful than a self-help book, knitting has a significant therapeutic effect, and like listening to music, simply appreciating art can decrease anxiety and help you feel calm and happy? Drawing, writing, reading poetry, and crafting can all help lower stress, relax your muscles, reduce indigestion and inflammation, and increase self-esteem and productivity. This is because creative pursuits help us focus our attention, similar to the way that meditating does.

Many of the physical and mental benefits of of creativity involve being in flow, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s term for that state we get into when we are so engaged in a creative task that our sense of time disappears and we temporarily forget ourselves and our “internal chaos.” We forget about our bodies and our unhelpful thoughts disappear for a while. Some people achieve that mental state when they’re swimming or running, but even the repetitive motion involved in a task like knitting can help regulate strong emotions and calm your nervous system.

Flow is especially beneficial for people with depression or anxiety, and neurological studies show that engaging in purposeful and meaningful activities such as creative pursuits can work like a natural antidepressant by improving mood. So if you could use a mental or physical health upgrade, find some time to grow your creative appreciation or jump right in with any of these activities, if you’re not already busy mastering them.

Go to Art Exhibits and Museums

Maybe you’ve had that mind-stretching, body-tingling experience when looking at a painting or a sculpture and you know what I’m talking about. Or maybe you’re one of those people who thinks art isn’t for them. Well, you don’t have to be artsy to appreciate art, or understand what you’re looking at to benefit from it. It’s the curiosity and your body’s visceral response to the experience that counts. Just one simple moment of wonder is actually doing you some good.

The areas of the brain involved in processing emotion and in our feelings of pleasure and reward are engaged when we’re contemplating a painting, especially one that doesn’t immediately make sense to us.

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    Our brain sends the same signals as it does when we’re daydreaming or thinking about the future, and goes into pleasure and reward mode. Oddly, an area called the interior insula, which is also associated with the experience of pain, is activated, but this may be part of the process of trying to find “meaning” in the art work. Take the afternoon off and go to an art exhibit or take a painting class.

    Write In Your Journal

    Stressed out? When was the last time you wrote in a journal? Before you decide that you’re already too busy responding to email and trying to cross more off your to-do list, consider the health benefits of writing. A lot of us are walking around with more stress than we can handle, and stress hormones such as cortisol are harmful to our immune systems and over time can create a lot of serious health problems.

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      A study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology shows how writing or journaling about an emotional topic lowered people’s cortisol levels. Personal, expressive writing is very helpful for people suffering from any kind of psychological trauma. In studies, patients who wrote in a journal were able to sleep better, improve their mood, and heal faster.

      Read Literature That Challenges You

      Many of us love to read—hey you’re doing it right now! But did you know that reading something “challenging,” such as Shakespeare benefits your brain and your mental health? Brain scans show that the more challenging prose and poetry set off far more electrical activity in the brain than reading works that are “easier” to read and use more conventional and predictable language.

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      “Reading serious literature shifts mental pathways, helping to create new thoughts, shapes and connections in the young and the staid alike,” says Philip Davis, an English professor who has combined efforts with Liverpool University’s magnetic resonance center to study the effects that reading William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth, T.S. Eliot and others has on the brain.

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        Read More Poetry

        The same research also found that reading poetry, in particular, increases activity in the right hemisphere of the brain, the area connected to “autobiographical memory.” Poetry helps us reflect on our own experiences and compare them to what we read, and it lights up the part of the brain concerned with language. “Poetry is not just a matter of style. It is a matter of deep versions of experience that add the emotional and biographical to the cognitive,” said Professor Davis.

        Not only that but there’s some evidence that poetry affects our brains in the way that music does. You know that sensation you get when you hear a song you really connect with? It turns out that the same areas of the brain that are aroused by music are set off when we read poetry. This might have something to do with the musical aspects of poetry—rhythm, tone, and word usage.

        Get Crafty

        Some experts equate the benefits of crafting-induced flow with the experience of meditation. It’s like a kind of “mental exercise” that helps regulate your attention and emotions. Whether you’re building furniture, making cute little dogs out of boiled felt, or restyling your wardrobe with origami coats, crafting can put you into a physical state of deep relaxation that alters your physical and emotional responses to stress.

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          Crafting combines self-expression, creative improvisation and problem-solving with mindfulness, which slows down your breathing and can decrease heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension.

          Building, sewing, throwing pottery, even gardening and doing home repairs activates your brain’s reward centers to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that’s sometimes described as a natural antidepressant. Another important factor is how these activities can build community, which is known to be one of the best antidotes to depression. Think of all those people who sell their crafty wares on Etsy—how blissed out they must be!

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            Keep On Stitching

            Many knitters and crocheters know that their craft offers stress relief, and those who do it frequently also reported higher cognitive functioning. Some of the greatest rewards of knitting can come from being in a group of fellow knitters. Studies show that people who are part of a knitting community report  “greater perceived happiness” and improved social contact and communication with others, which is linked to improved mood and brain health.

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              Knitting has been shown to have significant psychological and social benefits as well as therapeutic potential by helping people self-manage things like stress, depression and long-term illness and pain.

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              Use Your Hands

              Being involved in any meaningful creative task that requires using your hands, according to physician- writer team Carrie and Alton Barron, can help elevate your mood, stimulate your senses, and foster internal well-being. They recommend fitting 20-30 minutes in every day.

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                Discover A New World

                Indulging your creative side is like getting more mental exercise—it teaches patience and perseverance, increases your sense of pride, develops fine motor dexterity, and can bring you together with people who share your interests. And as psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott pointed out, being creative moves us closer to discovering our true self.

                 

                Featured photo credit: creative commons via pixabay.com

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                Last Updated on July 12, 2021

                100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier

                100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier
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                Want to learn some quick and easy life hacks that are easy to do, low cost and saves you time?

                By tweaking little things in your daily life, it can make your life much more convenient!

                Here’re 100 of the most practical life hacks so you can just pick up any of them right away!

                83 tie a small piece of bright colored fabric

                  84 write random letter

                    85 use a rubberband

                      86 dorm smell bad

                        87 lean your phone on your sunglassess

                          89 how to waterproof your shoes

                            90 take a picture of the name card

                              91 iron inside out

                                92 old newspaper

                                  93 tumble try shoes

                                    keep a card like this

                                      SONY DSC

                                        94 soap bar

                                          95 make a hole

                                            96 drop the battery

                                              97 use a coozie

                                                98 when taking a picture

                                                  use a clean dust pan

                                                    try a pants hanger

                                                      use your cellphone light

                                                        use a spring from an old pen

                                                          quick and easy iphone speaker

                                                            user binder clips

                                                              wrap a wet paper towel around your beverage

                                                                put pancake mix in a ketchup bottle

                                                                  clean out an old lotion bottle for your beach

                                                                    use a muffin tin to serve condiments at a bbq

                                                                      doritos are great for kindling

                                                                        use nail polish to identify different keys

                                                                          use a hanging shoe rack to store cleaning supplies

                                                                            freeze grapes to chill white wine without

                                                                              use paper clips to organize your cables

                                                                                almost finished your jar of nutella

                                                                                  sick of having a box full of tangled

                                                                                    unroll the rim to increase the capacity

                                                                                      cut open toilet paper rolls and use as a cuff

                                                                                        remove the stem from strawberries

                                                                                          turn an old bottle into a simple little cord holder

                                                                                            for iced coffee and iced cappuccino, use frozen coffee cubes

                                                                                              how to fold a fitted bed sheet

                                                                                                tired of snoozing past your alarm

                                                                                                  place a rubber band around an open paint can to wipe your brush on

                                                                                                    ut a wooden spoon across a boiling pot

                                                                                                      use bread clips to save flip-flops

                                                                                                        take pictures of friends holding items

                                                                                                          how i always know which headphone is the left one

                                                                                                            put a stocking over the end of a vacuum

                                                                                                              How to make sure you drink enough water

                                                                                                                user a can opener to open blister

                                                                                                                  good sandwich guide

                                                                                                                    turn your muffin pans upside down

                                                                                                                      50 pounds of groceries and living on the 5th floor

                                                                                                                        the right way to make a blt

                                                                                                                          add one teaspoon of baking soda

                                                                                                                            38

                                                                                                                              hair straighteners equals to collar irons

                                                                                                                                stack your clothes vertically to see them all

                                                                                                                                  the right way to make cookies in the summer

                                                                                                                                    how to clean a blender

                                                                                                                                      the right way to eat a popsicle

                                                                                                                                        use bread clips to label and organize power cords

                                                                                                                                          to get the built up residue off of your shower head

                                                                                                                                            user a hair clip to orgainize long wires

                                                                                                                                              a frozen saturated sponge in a bag

                                                                                                                                                rub stuck zipper teeth with a graphite pencil

                                                                                                                                                  use a soda pop tab

                                                                                                                                                    50

                                                                                                                                                      51 How to multiply large numbers in your head.

                                                                                                                                                        52 How to open a bottle if you dont have a corkscrew.

                                                                                                                                                          rub a walnut on damaged wooden furniture

                                                                                                                                                            kids fall out of bed

                                                                                                                                                              use toothpaste to clear up hazy car

                                                                                                                                                                58

                                                                                                                                                                  59 keep pizza out while driving home

                                                                                                                                                                    60 put your straw through the tab to keep it from rising

                                                                                                                                                                      hold oreos with a fork so your fingers

                                                                                                                                                                        Never lose your remotes again

                                                                                                                                                                          hiding your emergency money

                                                                                                                                                                            use a bread tab to hold your spot on a roll

                                                                                                                                                                              if you are at a hotel and run out of chargers

                                                                                                                                                                                keep a square of cardboard in a ziplock bag

                                                                                                                                                                                  If you need to pee or smoke at a bar

                                                                                                                                                                                    drill holes in the bottom of your garbage

                                                                                                                                                                                      use an accented letter as your passcode

                                                                                                                                                                                        use a squeeze ketchup bottle top with your shopvac

                                                                                                                                                                                          do something unusual when locking the door

                                                                                                                                                                                            when heating leftovers space out a circle in the middle

                                                                                                                                                                                              dont burn yourself in those hard to reach candles

                                                                                                                                                                                                put a small amount of water in a glass when you microwave your pizza

                                                                                                                                                                                                  75 use a piece of paper to organize

                                                                                                                                                                                                    use half a pool noodle

                                                                                                                                                                                                      pencil case to store cables

                                                                                                                                                                                                        78 clothespin to hold nail

                                                                                                                                                                                                          79 make blts

                                                                                                                                                                                                            80 take a picture of your fridge

                                                                                                                                                                                                              81 fill plastic water bottles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                82 right ways to eat chips

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  99 if your plug keeps failing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    100 put the banana on the wire

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      88 before you throw away a post it

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Source: Reddit LifeProTips

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There you go, 100 awesome life hacks that you can try right now to make your life a lot easier!

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