A Fun Way to Improve Your Health
Did you know that one way to take care of your health is to exercise your creativity? In the last 15 years, research has pointed to the health benefits of creativity. A leading magazine in psychology for 50 years, Psychology Today claims that creativity contributes to several health benefits, such as increased positive emotions, decreased symptoms of depression, reduced stress responses and sometimes, improvements in immune system functioning.
An article on PsychologyToday.com called Creativity as a Wellness Practice by Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, REAT states that, “Creativity is increasingly being validated as a potent mind-body approach as well as a cost-effective intervention to address a variety of challenges throughout the lifespan.”
If you’re thinking this sounds good but don’t believe you’re creative, perhaps it’s time to think again. A common barrier to creativity is the belief that one is simply not creative. Famous artist, teacher, author, playwright, filmmaker and journalist, Julia Cameron published a wildly successful book called The Artist’s Way which suggests that everyone is creative, but perhaps some need to recover a sense of creative power.
“All of us contain a divine, expressive spark, a creative candle intended to light our path and that of our fellows,” argues Cameron.
She is not alone in this thinking. We talked with local San Clemente resident, Genevieve Garcia about the work she does with therapeutic arts. Garcia holds a Master of Arts degree in Psychology from Pepperdine University and is certified in Arts 4 Healing through Chapman University. She is the founder of Creativity 4 a Cause (Creativity4ACause.com), an organization dedicated to helping people express their creativity, and to giving back. Partial proceeds go towards donating art supplies to a school in Rwanda. Garcia has worked with children, adults, people in recovery and wounded warriors.
“There are many misconceptions around art and being creative,” says Garcia. “People often think that art is a talent you are born with. Although some people are born with raw, natural talent, most artists spend thousands of hours perfecting their craft. Many people say they’re not creative or that they cannot do art when really art and creativity are just like anything else in life: they require time, practice and passion.”
When it comes to health, on a personal level, Garcia finds creativity exceptionally beneficial for her own mental and emotional health. And through her work and studies, she says she has found that when people allow themselves to explore their creativity in a safe and nurturing environment, they can benefit greatly.
“I believe that having a creative outlet enables individuals to access, explore and express emotions that are sometimes difficult to communicate with words,” says Garcia. “Therapeutic Creativity encourages individuals to explore their creativity … and offers the opportunity to examine life’s challenges, reduce stress, increase confidence and (experience) greater self-awareness.”
Another San Clemente local who believes in the power of creativity is renowned artist, Rick J. Delanty. Long-time artist and former art teacher based in San Clemente, Delanty has earned quite a number of achievements as a creative person. Recently, he received the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. As someone who is accomplished in his artistry, Delanty has a deep appreciation for the process of creating, and the health benefits connected to creativity.
“Creating artwork builds my mind the way athletics build the body,” says Delanty. “Solving problems and making cognitive connections in painting seem to have a ‘transfer effect’ in solving problems and making other intellectual connections in my daily life. In that way, I would compare the creative process to sharpening a blade, or adding strands to a rope.”
Delanty also stays physically active through running and swimming. He says painting plein air gives him the same kind of endorphin rush as those athletic activities do. For Delanty, exercising his creativity and his body gives him the highest mental and physical capacity to enjoy life to the fullest. He finds that when he is not able to paint, or exercise, his readiness to handle daily living situations is not what it could be.
On the other hand, he says, “If I exercise regularly and paint consistently, both my mental and physical health are optimized; everything is enjoyable, and all things are possible.”
As you consider how to improve your health regimen this year, along with any physical exercises, consider exercising your creativity. Whether it’s painting, drawing, writing, singing, dancing, crafting, photography, filmmaking, gardening, or any other positive creative outlet: creativity could contribute to a healthier, happier you!