Jul 5, 2009
What can Creativity do for us?
The power of creativity in life is immense. Creativity is something that all of us can use to revive, stimulate, repair and unite us. There is a massive amount of ways to be creative in our lives. Do you realize that things you do like telling your grandchildren stories and arranging your furniture are creative? It is not just painting, drawing or sculpting! Being creative is never-ending!
As we age we need to have creative activity in our lives more than ever. At this time in our lives when we have multifaceted emotions and challenges to face in our daily lives and more leisure time, creative art forms may offer us a great hobby and zeal for life. It is a compelling tool for dealing with life issues. It can literally open new doors for us as we communicate our feelings through art. It can help with the lonely times we may feel as our families grow up and leave home.It helps us stay engaged.
The loss of a spouse or retirement can change our identity, but writing our life stories, making scrap books can connect us with our loved ones from the past which helps keep a part of them alive for us.
Depression is one thing seniors may face as they age, but doing something that is creative gives much pleasure and happiness and fills the time for us. Being creative has been shown to reduce depression and the isolation we may feel. Having the choice of doing something creative is so important because with ageing comes loss of power and this gives us back some of that which we may feel we have lost.
Being able to choose things and being creative goes hand in hand with good health and longevity.
Think about the people who have had a heart attack, stroke or dementia, did you know that it has been reported that they had improved self-esteem and mood when they were involved in a creative activity. It has been shown that people with dementia will open up and converse while doing collage work,something they did not do very often.
Throughout life for many, our personal identity is something that continues to be changed; all of us have emotional interiors things that we have held deep inside. Being creative has a way of opening these doors up.
Creative expression and social interaction with others is imperative to the mental and physical well being of people. Days may become tedious and depression may result without these two key aspects in life.
Scientists now say that social and creative deficiency can actually impair brain function. One of the leading proponents of this theory is Gene D. Cohen, MD, PhD. director and professor of health-care sciences and professor of psychiatry at the Center on Aging, Health & Humanities, George Washington University, Washington, DC and the author of The Creative Age.
Dr.Cohen is the lead researcher of a twenty-five year study on creativity and aging in more than 200 senior citizens.
Concerning the relationship of creativity and health, Dr. Cohen says, “Expressing ourselves creatively can actually improve health, both mentally and physically. Creativity is a natural, vibrant force throughout our lives-a catalyst for growth, excitement and forging a meaningful legacy.” Dr. Cohen also makes some other key points regarding the importance of creativity to wellness:
• Creativity reinforces essential connections between brain cells, including those responsible for memory.
• Creativity strengthens morale. It alters the way we respond to problems and sometimes allows us to transcend them. Keeping a fresh perspective makes us emotionally resilient.
• Challenging the brain can relieve sleep and mood disorders.
• Reading, writing and word games increase one’s working vocabulary and help to fend off forgetfulness.
• Capitalizing on creativity promotes a positive outlook and sense of well-being. That boosts the immune system, which fights disease.
• Having an active, creative life makes it easier to face adversity-including the loss of a spouse.
(Cohen, Gene D., “Welcome to the Creative Age”, Bottom Line/Tomorrow Vol.9, #8 (Aug.2001)
The National Institute on Aging recently paid for a study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study, conducted on elderly Roman Catholic nuns, priests and brothers in the United States tracked the 801 participants for an average of 4.5 years. The study began with a preliminary cognitive assessment, surveyed the time spent in various cognitive activities such as crossword puzzles, radio, reading, etc, and then correlated this information to participants who developed Alzheimer's. The results showed that the risk of Alzheimer’s was higher for the general population when compared to the nuns. For more information on the nun study, visit www.nunstudy.org.
It is so important for us to keep mentally active, a new hobby like painting can fill that need. It gives us a choice, we can decide what to paint, what colors to use. These are small things but they play a big role in keeping our minds healthy. One may want to learn a new medium, challenge himself, which is a great way to stimulate the brain. While one person may want to paint others may find an outlet with gardening, writing, music, the art form is a highly personal one!
What we want to remember is that it is important for us to keep mentally active and try new things, keep our brain alive with things that are new and a challenge to us. Art can do just that!