10 health benefits of creativity

19 March 2017

10 health benefits of creativity

This artistic arrangement caught my eye while walking the Tumalo Creek trail. Smooth stones, conifer cones, tree branches. And an icy snowball. Someone was feeling creative, and it made me smile.

Did you know creativity has a good deal to do with our health and well-being?


Photo credit: Marlys


I learned to knit in high school and then it fell by the wayside. When Hubby started slowing down, I picked up needles and soft fuzzy wools and began knitting again.

It allowed me to be in the same room with the guy in the hospital bed, and I was actually accomplishing something—Christmas gifts—not to mention it was incredibly therapeutic mesmerizing invigorating to watch something of use and beauty take shape in soft graceful fuzziness.

And just like that, knitting made several things right with our world at that time.

In 2010, researchers analyzed more than 100 studies about the impact of creativity on our health: music, writing, dance, the visual arts—painting, sculpting, weaving—and everything in between.

They published an article about their review, The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature, in a National Institutes of Health publication.

From the combined research, it was determined that creativity and the arts can help us:

1. Improve our medical outcomes, with a trend toward reducing depression

2. Reduce stress and anxiety (Did you know during and after World War I, knitting was used as therapy for soldiers who suffered from shell shock?)

3. Shift our focus away from pain

4. Relax and therefore feel calmer and happier

5. Process grief and loss

6. Express our thoughts and emotions that otherwise are hard to put into words

7. Feel more positive about our worth

8. Find meaning in life experiences

9. Form new connections with others

Here’s a final benefit that wasn’t included on any of the lists I came across — creativity and the arts can help us:

10. Contribute to the wellbeing of others by adding more beauty to the world, by stitching warm things for those who are cold, by designing a wedding ring that is unique one-of-a-kind gorgeous expression of love between bride and groom, by bringing smiles to the faces of hikers who happen by artistic endeavor on a picnic table on the side of a trail.

What’s keeping us from producing a video and posting it to YouTube? Building a window box and planting it with lacey geraniums? Recording our family histories for siblings, children, grandchildren?

Go ahead, design a fabulous evening gown. Build a log cabin. Paint a picture of your grandparents’ homestead from that old photograph. Unpack your nyckelharpa, your bass drum, your clarinet, and join a local band. Invent a better way to travel cross country without fold-up maps … oh, wait, that’s already been done.

Garden. Quilt. Sing. Sculpt. Weave. Throw some pottery. Needlepoint. Write a poem. Design a gorgeous outdoor entertainment space and invite friends over. Take a ballroom dance class. A jewelry design class. Sit long by the sea and sketch.

Or repurpose an old barn into a warm welcoming wood-beamed home, which happens to be on my creativity to-do list.

In an article entitled “Make More Art: The Health Benefits of Creativity,” James Clear writes:

In our always-on, always-connected world of television, social media, and on-demand everything, it can be stupidly easy to spend your entire day consuming information and simply responding to all of the inputs that bombard your life. Art offers an outlet and a release from all of that.

As a recent contribution to my own sanity and physical health, I knitted a sweater blanket (or maybe it’s a blanket sweater) with some donated shades of blues and greens paired with scraps from my yarn basket … and I’m feeling quite healthy, thank you.


Photo credit: Gary Wirth


This reminder from Maya Angelou:

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.

What’s going on in your creativity department? I’d love to hear about your projects!

P.S. If you found this post inspiring — like, inspiring enough to sign up for a water color class, or start the next great American novel, or pick up that long-neglected crochet project — please share, tweet or pin!

  • sally slick says:

    Another awesome blog with lots of great information and advice! And I love the sweater blanket! Hugs, dear Marlys!

  • Yvonne says:

    Thank you so much. I needed this. I have left my desire to be a locall artist on the back burner for a long time largely due to the circumstances in my life. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Karen Henderson says:

    Love your sweater. It’s beautiful and looks so comfortable. Probably too warm for Puerto Rico though.

  • Lynn Hare says:

    Great post! With recent health challenges, I find that creativity TOTALLY brings my stress down. That includes coloring pages, writing, and joking around. It really works! What a lovely sweater, Marlys! Way to go!

  • Gary Wirth says:

    Marlys, what a great picture of your sweater. Great story as always.

  • Jennifer Killam says:

    Marlys: Love the sweater love the pic of pine cones! Very pretty, earthy and you write delicately (sounds corny?) but kindly and gently. Great piece!

    • Jennifer, the arrangement of cones and sticks and stones (and snowball) was so fun to happen upon while I was walking the trail. I so appreciated the artistic endeavors of my fellow hiker(s) ahead of me!

  • Kathi says:

    Marlys- As always, this post has inspired me. I tried to pick up knitting from past years and then made a goof and haven’t picked it up since. This has inspired me to tear out that bad row and move on. I also love the sweater blanket and would love the pattern if you are willing to share. As always my friend your writing inspires me to strive to be a better person.

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About Me

Hello, my name is Marlys Johnson. I’m a cancer widow, author, speaker and blogger. I love getting outdoors; would rather lace up hiking boots than go shopping. I have a passion for repurposing old junk into cool new stuff. And an even greater passion for showing people how to navigate life's challenges. Tenaciously. And with heart wide open.

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