Way back when quinoa was something that no-one could pronounce – creatives knew the inherent benefit in making art. The anecdotal evidence was clear to see. Creative-types who weren’t functioning artists tended to go down the addiction route. But, if they could make art, they could heal. And people have long credited creativity with preventing them from pushing the self-destruct button at all.
Then the wellness movement came along in all its might. Talking therapies became more mainstream, and the value of diet, exercise and alternative remedies were finally acknowledged. Yoga, mindfulness and meditation are now no-brainers, and everyone everywhere seems to know who Deliciously Ella and The Body Coach are. I am fully on the wellness wagon too, and have been ever since I started writing about alternative health, as a journalist for British magazines (and later, newspapers) from 2000.
Today, a host of products and services have arisen to make wellness a $3.4 trillion global industry (according to a Global Wellness Institute study). That includes healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss, preventative and personalised health, complementary and alternative medicine, and beauty and anti-aging products and services.
Wellness tourism is booming, and in our busy world – it’s becoming increasingly common to check your phone at the spa door, get pampered and preened and return to an even busier life.
Unfortunately, the busyness of modern life is stripping our brains of their creativity. Research by the Bar-IIlan University in Israel has shown that we need to be bored and idle, in order to stimulate our creativity. That we need to be able to switch between focus and daydreaming. Many people simply have no downtime. They’re on all day, before crashing into bed. It’s a rinse-and-repeat cycle that’s damaging mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. If you live like this for too long, your emotional experiences flatten out. If you get too numb, you feel nothing, and life becomes devoid of passion, purpose and power.
The problem is that emotions are never benign, and whether you feel them, or not, they are still there. Emotions are living, breathing entities that cause changes in blood chemistry – literally affecting our physical health. And finally, both Western and Eastern doctors are beginning to agree on this. One thing is for sure, stress is responsible for dis-ease. The American Institute of Stress estimate that between 75%-90% of all doctor visits are for stress-related problems. While another study, published by the American Psychological Society found that 90% of adults believe that stress can contribute to the development of major illnesses. We feel it, we see it, we know it. But what people don’t often know is that creativity is a remedy – a tonic that can help bring about real change.
Life coaches often use the wheel of life to map out the areas in which a client’s life is functioning well. Traditionally, the categories have been: career, family and friends, significant other / relationship, fun and recreation, health, money, personal growth and physical environment.
For too long, creativity hasn’t had a look-in. But it’s the key to feeling fully-expressed so that you can truly be yourself and live the life you were destined to live. The surface things you do to ‘feel well’ may even be the wrong things for you, because you haven’t had the time and space to consider what’s you really need. Carving out time so that you can be creative gives you access the liminal space. That’s the space between here and now, and the future. In that space, lies the magic of potential and possibility. Through creativity, you can remove yourself from the reality you currently find yourself in. You can unplug from the busyness of life, and choose another path.
Creativity isn’t a product that you can buy. But it’s the missing piece of the puzzle – and for this reason it needs to be a key part of wellness. If you want to improve your wellbeing, improve your creative expression. And life will look and feel better.
As one of my clients wrote: “I craved creativity as a child and teenager, and continued to crave it in my twenties, without even knowing it! I tried to fill that ‘hole’ in my life with achievements, and partying, and shopping, but what I really needed was to be creative”.