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Using Creativity as a Coping Mechanism

I often find myself thinking back to all the experiences or skills that I may have picked up over the years that relate to mental health in some form or the other, and strangely enough that’s what got me thinking about how creativity is such a wonderful tool when it comes to coping mechanisms. 

Remember those school projects where we were encouraged to let our imagination run wild, creating art projects that spoke volumes without uttering a single word, or where we let our strangest fantasies run wild, like drawing a superhero and its villain counterpart and then being asked who in our lives inspire those characters. 

I almost always said the superhero was my dad and the villain was my mom, asking me to clean my room. I didn't quite grasp it then, but upon reflection, I see how those creative adventures served as a release for my emotions. 

Even the casual doodles tucked away in the margins of my geography notebooks could be seen as a coping mechanism for the sheer monotony and the nagging thought that most of what we were learning would probably never see the light of day in my life. 

But the point is, engaging in some form of creativity, whether by instruction, boredom or choice, was laying the foundation for a powerful tool in managing the ups and downs in my life.

And the interesting part is that there is a ton of research to back up this revelation!

One study that I believe is particularly noteworthy, is one by Conner, DeYoung, and Silvia published in the journal, called “Emotion,” where they wanted to see how well-being was affected by creative activities. And not just art-related creativity, but everyday creativity, like cooking, writing, and problem-solving. 

They were all observed to have a positive impact on emotions. Many participants even said that despite not being very skilled at the activity itself, they were still able to achieve flow and mindfulness.

So now that I have established how creativity, much like taking breaks, has a Psychoflakes-like power to rejuvenate the mind and soul. Here's a personal take on how embracing creativity can be a game-changer for mental well-being:

  • Rediscovering the Joy of Creation

Think back to the moments when you felt that spark of inspiration, whether it was sketching, writing, or even crafting. Creativity is not about perfection, it's about the joy of creating something uniquely yours. The point is to achieve a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that can act as a buffer against stress and daily pressures.

  • Art can be a Mindful Journey

Just as breaks offer moments of mindfulness, creative endeavors take you on a journey of presence and focus. Whether it's painting, writing, cooking, even organising, or any other form of self-expression, the act of creating brings you into the present moment, temporarily relieving the mind from worries and anxieties.

  • Journaling for Mental Clarity

I remember stumbling upon a psychology journal that discussed the therapeutic benefits of journaling. From personal experiences to scientific findings, the act of putting thoughts on paper can be remarkably cathartic. It's like having a conversation with oneself, gaining clarity and insights that may otherwise stay buried in the chaos of the mind.

  • Connecting the Dots

Creativity extends to problem-solving and thinking outside the box as well. Just like breaks enhance cognitive performance, engaging in creative problem-solving exercises activates different parts of the brain that foster adaptability and resilience.

  • The Science Behind Creativity

Scientifically speaking, studies have shown that engaging in creative activities stimulates the release of dopamine, the "feel-good" neurotransmitter. This not only enhances mood but also contributes to a sense of well-being. 

So if this is something that you want to give a shot as well, here are some tips that I think can really help you tap into using creativity as a coping tool.

  1. Set aside dedicated time for creative activities, just as you would for breaks.

  2. Experiment with different forms of creativity to find what resonates with you.

  3. Embrace imperfection because the process matters more than the end result.

  4. Connect with others who share similar creative interests; it's a journey best enjoyed together.

  5. Keep a creative journal for spontaneous ideas and reflections. You never know where you might find inspiration.

In a world that often feels like a whirlwind of responsibilities, deadlines, and challenges, it is nice to have some form of expression that is uniquely yours. No need to be the next Shakespeare or Monet, just dive in and let loose. 

So, grab that spatula or start scribbling, adding splashes of good vibes and fun to your daily ride. Get creative, and let the good times roll!

Learn about Mandalas with Psychoflakes to scribble through!

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