Are you too busy for creativity? As family, work, and personal responsibilities increase, it seems more and more people are forgetting to “think outside the box”. However, “all work and no play” can effect more than just your creativity. It can effect your health.

Chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes are affecting millions of Americans. In the meantime, the burden of these diseases are linked to chronic stress, depression, and other mental illnesses.

You may be surprised to read that arts are becoming an increasingly popular aspect of medicine programs throughout the nation and world. A review published din the American Journal of Public Health highlights the health benefits of several creative channels, including expressive writing, movement-based creative expression, visual arts, and music. Music engagement, for example, has been shown to restore emotional balance and even control pain. According to the journal The Arts in Psychotherapy, music therapy can calm neural activity in the brain which reduces anxiety and even boosts the immune system. Music therapy is even used to control pain and increase immunity in cancer patients.

Don’t brush off (no pun intended) painting, dancing, or creative writing as merely a waste of time. Research in creativity and its link to health has increased in recent years. A growing body of evidence points to the stress-reducing effects creative activities have on an individual as they encourage comfort and relaxation. They can also boost self-confidence and improve brain function, which lowers the risk of dementia with old age.

Stress encourages weight gain, heart disease, and unstable blood sugar levels. Creativity reduces stress and its damaging effects. Creative acts done simply for self-fulfillment are stress and worry-free by default. You can challenge yourself without the fear of failure because there’s no “wrong answer” when it comes to creative acts. You can work but feel happiness.

Grab a pen, pencil, brush, or instrument!

The beauty of creativity is that everyone can manifest it in different ways and still experience the same, common benefits. From visual arts, culinary arts, and writing to music, interior designing, clothing and jewelery making, there are endless possible ways to channel your creative energy.

Garden, knit, take a class, or learn a new language. Learn something new or creatively teach others about a subject you care about. When a creative avenue sparks your interest or curiosity, follow it and see where it may take you.

Have fun!