We all know that physical factors affect our skin: pollution, sun damage, stress, dehydration, smoking and tiredness are some of the main culprits; and we seek to use well balanced natural formulae to improve things.
We feel a lot more confident and happier when we feel good about our skin.
But... did you know that taking part in creative activities also has great benefits for our skin?!
Normally when we think about creative activities, singing, music, art, theatre and photography all spring to mind. However that’s quite a limited list, and maybe you’re not particularly interested in those activities. A widely accepted view by psychologists and others involved in mental health care is that “Creativity is a set of skills, an attitude to life, the ability to have original, meaningful ideas that often cross over disciplines and connect previously separate information.”
The importance of creativity for health and wellbeing, Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust, 2015
As a former primary teacher and a mum of four, I always felt that the creative side of the curriculum was just as important as the academic and physical sides. However that has changed over the last 10 years or so as government policy has narrowed the curriculum focus.
As mental health issues, stress, the pandemic and financial concerns have come to dominate our lives recently, our skin (outside and in) has been adversely affected. Many people suffering from depression or stress are finding they have associated physical symptoms.
Along with many health professionals, as well as other artists including Grayson Perry, I seek to advocate the importance of creativity in our everyday lives.
So why is creativity important in a holistic view of health?
- Creativity is an important part of being human. Even early cave dwellers sought to express themselves artistically, long before humans had language.
- It helps us to solve problems and trust ourselves more
- We feel more confident when we master new skills or techniques
- Getting involved in mindful activities helps us to relax and enjoy the moment
- Our mental health is much improved when we undertake pleasurable activities
- We are more motivated and feel positive when we are doing something worthwhile
- Our energy levels improve
Our creative ‘muscle’ isn’t visible but it’s very real and needs exercising and nurturing like other muscles in order for us to reach our full potential. Even when we’re engaged in something as basic as colouring activities or doodling, brain function improves and this can show on our faces.
Basically we’re talking about FLOW - the state you get into when you are completely absorbed in something. When you are so engrossed that you lose all sense of self and time, you are less anxious, you have a better mood and your heart rate slows.
Many manual craft or making activities increase our happiness as we feel more productive. Many people enjoy knitting, sewing, baking, cooking, gardening, DIY, decorating - activities that produce a result and that make you feel good because you can see, touch or even taste the end results. That ‘feelgood factor’ comes from your brain being flooded with dopamine, a chemical that motivates you. It’s a chemical ‘carrot’, a reward that makes you want to engage in similar activities again.
Various studies have shown that taking part in creative activities reduces depression and isolation as well as improving our immune systems
This year may well bring more normality than 2020 and 2021, but whatever it brings we all would like to feel happier, more positive and less anxious in our lives.
New year, new resolutions, new hopes: so January brings an opportunity to try a new leisure activity that might perk you up, inside and out, and rekindle the joy of making and creating. Here are some activities to think about:
Takeaway… SIX CREATIVE THINGS to try out and maybe enjoy, alone or with friends or family members:
Land art… making artistic installations outdoors using ‘found’ natural materials
Mobile phone photography… zoom in on detail or capture the bigger picture
Printing… with found or natural materials – you can even make your own inks!
Journalling… record your thoughts and experiences, maybe adding little sketches, too
Painting… buy an inexpensive paintbox or pastel set, or download a digital app
Modelling… make decorative or useful items from recycled materials or modelling clay
Marie Keane is a Derbyshire printmaker inspired by wildlife and landscape, “bringing the outdoors indoors”. She specialises in using hand-printing techniques for linocut relief printing, mono printing and mixed media. You can find out more about her work here.
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