Why creativity is good for wellbeing

Increased productivity

Good for the soul

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” Kurt Vonnegut

When it comes to health and wellbeing, there is lots we can do to help us live a better-quality life. Healthy eating; exercise; routine; developing good sleep patterns – our daily choices have a direct impact on how well we feel. And while we know how to be physically healthier, how good are we at prioritising our mental health?

Practising mental wellbeing is as much a discipline as practising physical wellbeing – it’s just often more difficult to know where to start.

Arts Council England recognises a “connection between creativity and the health and quality of people’s lives” and advocates “that creative and cultural activity must be viewed by society as a fundamental part of living well.”¹

While creativity is known to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress, being creative does not come easily to everyone.

How many of us wish that we were more creative than we are? That we’re a more skilled artist; our handwriting is neater or we’re a more talented musician? Perhaps we feel we have little to no creative abilities and would love the confidence to express ourselves artistically. Perhaps a fear of failure is preventing us from even taking the first step to being creative.


Creativity = positivity

Research tells us that doing something creative makes us feel immediately more positive. Yes, the act of being creative makes us feel better about ourselves, rather than the result of our creativity making us happy.

If you’ve ever stumbled across New York-based street musician, Reginald Guillaume – better known as Guitaro5000 – on YouTube, TikTok and other social media platforms, you’ll be familiar with his impromptu vlogs, where he asks people in random places to sing with him for free. Guillaume describes his music style as a way to “draw people out of themselves and become a part of the show.”² His YouTube series “Sing with me for free” encourages people to take a moment out of their busy days just to sing.

Guillaume is single-minded in his approach: “I ask these people to sing with one purpose: to create a way for them to experience a sense of happiness and freedom they did not feel before.”³ At the end of every impromptu street performance he asks his guests, “Now that you’ve sung, how do you feel?” The answer is invariably, “I feel great.” And the look on singers’ faces mirrors their response. They walk away, changed people – upbeat; motivated and ready to deal with the rest of their day.

Creative challenges

Drawing and writing have a similar euphoric effect, but when we’re feeling low or lacking self-esteem, it can be difficult to motivate ourselves to be creative. Here are some simple ideas to help get you started:

  • Creative writing

You don’t need to be a poet to write creatively. Take a moment each day to observe your surroundings and write one sentence about what you see. Whether on an early morning dog walk; a break at work; people-watching in a café or library or waiting to catch a bus, what do you see? Hear? Smell? Notice anything unusual or something that makes you smile. Write it down.

  • Storytelling

Pair up with a friend and take turns to write one sentence or a paragraph of a story before passing the narrative over to the other one. What you write will inspire your friend and vice versa. Set a time scale to complete the challenge in – whether a week, month, or year – and then spend some quality time together reading the finished story. There’s bound to be a few laughs and smiles along the way.

  • Seasonal art

Take your inspiration from the seasons. (You can read more about this in our upcoming blog about spring). Each season brings us something new to encourage us, and the emergence of new life in spring – flowers, lambs, and birdsong – does wonders to warm the heart and the soul. Draw or write about how spring makes you feel. And if you’re sharing on social media, tag us in your creations using Zebra pens.

  • Easter craft activities

Easter crafts aren’t just for kids. Adults can have just as much fun creating greeting cards, decorating Easter bonnets, eggs, or baskets. Celebrate new life with a cut-flower arrangement or experiment with a spring door wreath – who says decorative wreaths must be reserved for Christmas?

  • Collages

Why not get creative with a collage or scrap book ‘all about me’? Don’t limit yourself to photographs but include images and objects that have a personal meaning – for example, travel and theatre tickets, drawings, newspaper and magazine cuttings and text from favourite books or song lyrics: anything that helps tell the story of who you are.


“Just do it”

It doesn’t matter what creative activity you do. It’s the doing that counts. We challenge you to try one new creative thing this week, and we guarantee that you’ll feel better because of it. As writer and theologian Thomas Merton once wrote:

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

And as global sports brand Nike has been saying for nearly 40 years:

“Just do it.”

¹ Creative Health & Wellbeing, ACE, July 2022
²The Daily Biography,  https://thedailybiography.com/guitaro5000-age-bio/
³Guitaro5000 on YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/Guitaro5000