Thursday, September 11, 2008

Creativity as Therapy

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A few days ago, I found an article which discussed a link between what our hands do and a happy place in our brain. In other words, doing something skillful and useful with our hands sends an 'atta girl' to a part of our brain which, in turn, turns on seratonin, our favorite feel good hormone.

One of the points of the article was that in our modern, push button, touch screen, digital, microwave world, we don't DO enough to trigger this pleasure response. This, they hypothosize, is one of the reasons depression is on the rise in our world. Modern man doesn't take up tools to plow a field or chop wood to heat his home. Modern woman tosses laundry in the machine instead of getting physical feedback from scrubbing each shirt. (I'm happy enough about that, too, by the way.) One of the ways the authors suggested we cope was through crafting and art.

In other words, the act of hands-on creating makes you feel great. Creating something to delight your soul only reinforces the pleasure. The physical act of creating--handling fabric, cropping photos, molding clay, or picking up a paint brush is enough to begin to trigger this pleasure response.

The next time you decide to scrapbook, quilt, garden, needlepoint, cook, make soap, photograph, paint a wall or a canvas, sketch in your journal, or play with words on paper, you are investing in your own well being. Think of the dollars you are saving by not going to a therapist! Go ahead, invest in shiny, new tools, buy more fabric for your stash, stock up on any and all creative supplies. Remember, its for your own good, not to mention the well being of your family. (And more fun than doing laundry on a rock.)

4 Other Creative Souls are Saying:

Being Beth said...

This is incredibly interesting to me. Maybe that's why I get less enjoyment out of typing on my computer than I do writing by hand with a dip pen and bottle of ink. Sure, I can write faster on the keyboard, and corrections are so much easier to deal with, but I always have the thought in the back of my mind that daunting as it may seem, I'd thoroughly enjoy writing an entire novel by longhand.

One thing I do in this regard is knit. I've never made anything -- not even a winter scarf. I knit for the feel of the wool slipping through my fingers, for the rhythmic click of the needles, for the serotonin fix it gives me. I knit an entire ball of yarn, rip it out, and knit it again. I don't bother with patterns, or counting stitches or rows -- I simply knit. When I get tired of a color, I switch to another. I find it quite satisfying and relaxing. To follow a pattern would ruin the whole experience for me.

DebD said...

I also found this quite interesting. Thanks for sharing it with us. I can see a positive connection between creating and inner-peace.

Anonymous said...

Wooohoooo - another great reason to buy fabric! Like I need one. *snort*

Sweet P said...

Can you tell me where you found this article? I have always believed that being creative is great therapy.

This past week I flew to visit my ailing parents. I took my sewing machine and a quilt I'm making for my mom with me. Working on her quilt during our down time was just the ticket to keep my anxiety at bay.