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Creative Activity and Mental Health

We all know fairly well by now that sitting in front of screens, rattling away at a keyboard all day long can be detrimental to our health. For a lot of people this is working life and is in essence inescapable, so what can we do to strike a balance to this?

Physical exercise is great, of course. Getting our heartrates up, oxygenating the blood and so on helps a lot and we can certainly feel the positive benefits from it.

And how about mental exercise, in particular the creative kind? Isn't that of equal importance? Definitely, and if you have a couple of minutes to read, I will explain why.

Making a conscious decision to allow our thinking mind a bit of a break to explore creative activities can feel a bit like leaving a 4 walls environment and entering a lovely garden - it's refreshing, stimulating, calming and inspiring to say the least. It brings a stillness to the mind, allowing our thoughts to slow down and brings a quiet joy with inner peace that is absolutely priceless - and dare I say necessary - for helping to maintain our mental health.

There are many studies to support the theory that the act of working with our hands creatively provides a mind-to-hand feedback loop which, simply put, serves to tune out all the extra noise in our minds and foster mindfulness by the sheer simplicity of being purely in the moment. On top of that, the release of seratonin and endorphins happens in your brain because of the invigoration of your hands from the physical touch. Stress hormones are reduced and the mind is released to wander. All very lovely stuff.

Using your hands in a creative way results in what is known as effort-driven circuit. It's when by putting (even a small) effort into a task and concentrating on it we feel pleasure in response to the progression, from seeing results and even having new ideas sparked from the progress. Think of that feeling when you try something and it goes just right. It's so satisfying. This reward for our efforts and presence through the process can have significant positive effects on us; uplifting our mood, building self-confidence and feelings of capability. It sparks joy, the urge to try more and builds belief in ourselves.

Life is busy and each of us has a lot to do in order to get through our days. The background stress can really build up and weigh heavy when we don't attend to our happiness and emotional wellbeing. Don't forget to take care of yourself and take a creative mental break every now and then, you'll feel so much better for it.

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