Turns out there’s a lot more to your creative ventures than you might think: Plenty of research proves creating makes us happier, less anxious, more resilient, and better able to tackle problems in the face of hardship. Here’s a sample of what science has found to be the upside of tapping into your artistic side:
It may keep the doc away
One study found that patients who were asked to write their stories went to the doctor half as often as those who weren’t prompted to write. The expressive-writing group also used less aspirin and didn’t get sick as frequently as they did before they’d started writing.
It can boost your memory
Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that elderly people who dance frequently are 75 percent less likely to get dementia than those who don’t hit the dance floor, with the study authors speculating that dancing may build new neural circuits.
It makes you more sensitive
Scientists have uncovered that playing a musical instrument creates a sharper “neural tuning,” which can help them decipher more emotion in the pitch of human voices, according to one study published by the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
4 Ways to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing
Still not sure you can find the time—or figure out what it is that you’d like to do most? Try these tips to get your creative juices flowing:
Say “no” to other things
Skip watching TV one night a week, or don’t volunteer to bake cookies for your kid’s class this month. Ask yourself, What can I sacrifice so that I have more time.
Be a joy sleuth
Really take a look at your life and how you fill your time and spend your energy. Then, analyze what brings you joy—and what doesn’t—and hatch a plan to stop spending time on those things that don’t make you happy. (Or, at least figure out how to spend as little time as possible on those activities.)
Make (physical) space for your art
Do you love painting or playing music but have no place in your house to really spread out and do it? Make the space. And if that’s simply not possible, look into places outside of your home where you can create. Just make sure that place is easily accessible; if it’s too tough to get to, you’ll be less likely to make the effort.
Ditch your urge for perfection
It’s one thing to be a kid learning how to play the violin; it’s another to be an adult re-learning how to play and sounding like you did when you were in elementary school. Right? Wrong. “The sooner you can get rid of the idea of perfection and instead, step into the flow of the direction you want to go, the more enjoyment you’ll feel right away,” .