Doing Something Creative Can Boost Your Mood

Posted by Editor Kristi Heidel

The following contains excerpts from Jill Suttie, Doing Something Creative Can Boost Your Well-Being, Great Good Berkely (Mar 21, 2017).

Researchers have found that people report feeling happy and energized when they are doing something creative, and that being in a positive mood goes hand in hand with creative thinking.

Tamlin Conner, a researcher at the University of Otago in New Zealand, along with two American researchers, analyzed surveys from over 650 young adults who had filled out daily online diaries for 13 days. The questions asked such things as how much time they’d spent in creative endeavors each day, about their well-being, their levels of positive emotion, negative emotion, and what the researchers called “flourishing” (an overall sense of meaning, purpose, engagement, and social connection in their lives).

The results showed that people who were more engaged in creative activities than usual on one day reported increased positive emotion and flourishing the next day, while negative emotions didn’t change. However, the reverse did not seem to occur.

Conner said of the results, “Research often yields complex, murky, or weak findings. But these patterns were strong and straightforward: Doing creative things today predicts improvements in well-being tomorrow. Full stop.”

Conner and her colleagues, however, wonder why these results occurred. Could it be that creative activity that begins one day –such as a crafting project—continues on the next day, and that’s why well-being goes up on day two? Even after controlling for this possibility in the analyses, the researchers found that people who were more creative on just one day still experienced more flourishing and positive emotions like energy, enthusiasm, and excitement the next day. This led Conner to conclude that engaging in small daily acts of creativity may influence overall well-being rather than simply making us feel good in the moment.

“We can add creativity to the list of ‘actionable things’ people can do to take charge of their well-being.”

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