It may surprise you that even those who’ve thought of themselves as creative all their lives can feel drained of creativity or feel as if it’s too much effort. It takes a lot of energy to be creative. The good news is that creative energy is renewable. Not only that, creativity is also a powerful tool for good health. So when you feel not creative enough or as if your creativity energy is too low, take yourself on a creativity date.
What is a Creativity Date?
Julia Cameron called it an artist’s date in her book, The Artist’s Way. She describes it as “a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you” and as “assigned play.”
I call it a creativity date because too many people equate the word artist with something out-of-ordinary-reach. It’s not something “artistic” with a capital A. It simply replenishes your inner well of creativity. Simpler and perhaps more nourishing than that, it replenishes something deep inside you. Some call it your soul. Others call it your inner spirit. Whatever you call it, it’s the place, activity, or feeling that makes you feel replenished and renewed. It gives you a sense of well-being.
Why Schedule a Creativity Date?
Creativity is a source of better physical, mental, and emotional health. Some forms of creativity help us physically, but all forms help us achieve better mental and emotional health.
Mental and Emotional Health
On the National Library of Medicine website, a study reports, “Creative activity has been shown to reduce depression and isolation…” The extra good news is that these results do not depend on the end product. The quality of art that you produce isn’t important. The creative act is all you need.
Science has proven that drawing, paint, molding clay, writing, and movement-based creative expression help people heal from trauma.
Studies have also shown that taking part in a creative activity on one day increases our sense of well-being the next day. Even something as simple as walking through an art supply store or any “playful” activity you enjoy on your own can work.
As we age, the white matter in our brain thins. This results in slower thinking and remembering. This is thinning is worse in sedentary people and better in people who exercise regularly. A six-month study showed that learning to dance produces increases in the thickness and quantity of brain tissue. That leads to faster thinking and less cognitive decline. Note, it doesn’t matter if you are an accomplished dancer. So if you don’t like to exercise, try the more creative form—Dance.
Creative activities that use repetitive movement, like knitting, journalling, or sketching, relieves stress. Attending a concert, visiting a museum, or watching some other creative activity also reduces stress. Reducing stress not only helps us feel better, it helps keep your blood pressure and heart healthier.
Julia Cameron says ideally you should have a date once a week. Realistically? Many of us are too busy to add one more activity each week. So aim for at least once a month. Twelve or more per year. That’s not too many to schedule.
Create a list of twenty-four dream creative activities. Schedule twelve of them. The second twelve are back-up ideas. (For when life happens.)
Creativity Date Ideas
- Visit a local art museum.
- Make a collage from pictures you cut out from a magazine.
- Go to an artist’s talk or lecture at the local museum or gallery.
- Go to a glassblowing or jewelry-making or dance class.
- Take a sketchbook or journal to a local park and, inspired by the nature around you, write or sketch.
- Watch a movie about an artist.
- Create a sculpture with found items.
- Walk through a craft supplies store.
- Walk through your town, and study or take pictures of the architecture.
- Go to a concert or watch/listen to a street performer.
- Paint rocks and leave them for others to find.
- Make a flower crown for yourself.
- Learn to cook a new recipe.
- Do something you loved doing as a child.
- Find a new coffee shop or restaurant to try.
- Take a dance class.
- Build something with your child’s Lego blocks (no using instructions!)
- Paint a wall in your home or garden.
- Select and plant a variety of plants in a container.
- Go to the library and find read about a new-to-you art form.
- Shop your local flea market for one or two low-cost items you can repurpose.
- Go to the local park and take pictures of nature from unusual angles.
- Get a book or newspaper for a prop and go to a public place (a hotel lobby, a shopping mall, local park, etc.) where you will people-watch. Make up stories about them.
- Spend an hour staring at plant in nature or a display at a museum or gallery and list all the features and details you see, feel, hear, and touch.
- Go to a graveyard and imagine the stories of the people who lie there.
Your Superpower for Better Health
In the marathon of school and jobs and family that is our modern-day lives, we often find ourselves stressed-out and depleted of energy. Regardless of your day job, your hobbies, or your stress levels, you have a superpower. Your superpower is creativity. You can de-stress and recharge with a regular creativity date.
There are no rules about creativity dates. You don’t have to think of yourself as a creative. You don’t have to be experienced or educated in a certain way. So have fun. Schedule a creativity date at least once a month.
Do you go on creativity dates?
What ideas do you have for your next creativity date?
National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16439826/, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804629/, and https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28360853/