I’m sure I’m not alone in being OVER COVID. I’ve noticed that after several hours of telehealth therapy sessions, I often feel tired and a little cranky. Even though I really enjoy the conversations I have with my clients, staring at the screen and communicating through video chat takes energy that in-person communication doesn’t. I’ve been experimenting with different activities to find rejuvenating options w/which to engage during my lunch break, to perk me up for the afternoon. Over and over, the activities that most invigorate me are those that are creative. I consulted the psychology literature and found that indeed, creative practices have been identified as super helpful for our mental health for lots of reasons. Creative practices have been associated with improved problem solving, improved working memory, better psychological and physical healing, and stronger immune systems (Richards, 2007).
Even if you don’t identify as a ‘creative person,’ you are definitely capable of creativity. In fact, many of us from marginalized backgrounds are used to being creative about many aspects of ourselves and how we move through the world. For example, as a genderqueer/nonbinary person, I often have to be creative in finding and putting together clothing options that feel affirming and celebrate me in my genderfullness. Although this can seem like extra work, it results in innovative outfits that bring me joy every time I get dressed. Just doing something with the intention of letting yourself create and innovate produces enjoyment and achievement juices in your brain.
Here are a few ideas of ways to be creative with every day activities. Sometimes we can make small adjustments in our usual activities to reap more creative benefits. Notice what you enjoy doing, and let yourself be free of judgment – the benefits of creativity come from the process of creating more than the product created!
1. Drawing, painting, coloring, knitting, crocheting, arts and crafts: Even if you don’t have a collection of art supplies, just letting your mind wander with a pen and paper for a few minutes is a creative practice.
2. Cooking: Think of 3 ingredients that you feel like eating tonight and have available to cook with. Find a new recipe to try, or just cook by experimenting. Just the process of intentionally choosing items and figuring out how to make something you want to eat with those items is a creative process!
3. Make music: If you have an instrument, play it. Play something old or something new – improvise. If your instrument is your voice, sing! Sing songs you love, or make up a new song. No need to feel intimidated; remember, creativity is all about creating, and creating is a judgment-free process.
4. Move: Dance, put on a favorite song and move your body! Try a youtube Zumba session or other dance class, go outside and play catch with a friend, go for a walk in a new area or follow your usual trails in a different way – create a new route for yourself.
5. Write: It could be a story, poem, song, article, or just free writing whatever comes to mind. Let yourself get silly and have fun. Write a children’s book or song. The fun thing about writing is that you can go back and read (or sing) what you wrote, as many times as you want. Re-reading and singing stirs up the same happy achievement brain juices that you experienced when you were creating.
6. Get dressed: Go through your closet and put an outfit together that you’ve never worn before – be creative about making new combinations of clothes and accessories. If you haven’t painted your nails in awhile, paint them with a new color combination (everyone loves an accent nail ;-).
Richards, R. (2007). “Everyday creativity: our hidden potential,” in Everyday Creativity and New Views of Human Nature: Psychological, Social, and Spiritual Perspectives, ed R. Richards (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association), 25–53. doi: 10.1037/11595-001