Why Getting Your Hands Dirty Can Boost Your Creativity
Did you know? The average person spends 800 hours a year consuming mobile internet content. That’s 33 days a year!
Stating the obvious here, we spend a lot of time looking at screens. From the first, sleepy squint at your notifications while you’re still in bed–you know, the one where you hold your phone above your head and try not to drop it on your face–to an evening on the sofa in front of Netflix, our day is filled with casual Twitter scrolling, frequent WhatsApp messages and a flurry of swipes… in every direction. And that’s not including the time we spend in front of a computer at work.
We’re not saying screen time is a bad thing. The digital world is awesome! With the right management, we can bypass the negative effects–the eye strain, the bad backs, the metabolic issues–and take a little time out of our day to get our hands stuck into something physical.
It doesn’t have to be anything complex. We’re talking doodling, drawing, painting, gardening and cooking. Maybe take up a pottery class? Feel the ink on your skin, the dirt beneath your nails.
Here’s why getting your hands dirty every once in a while can have huge benefits to our creative wellbeing…
Even the lightest physical activity can help you handle everyday stress better.
Those small spikes in adrenaline and increases in heart rate you might experience from low level exertion (such as gardening or pottery) can help your body prepare for the higher spikes you might experience in a normal working day.
With less physical activities, such as doodling, drawing or painting, we can take more control of stressful situations. A study from Harvard Medical School, for example, argues that the art of doodling isn’t as random as we think. It can help you make sense of a situation, as you allow your unconscious mind to find its way. Drawing, painting and doodling can act like missing jigsaw pieces, ordering tangled thoughts, helping you see clearer and find a solution.
Dr Sheridan Linnell agrees. “Often creativity helps you to express parts of yourself that are being hidden…and it can also be a stepping stone for making sense of yourself”.
Sometimes, it’s important to focus on just one thing, but that’s always easier said than done in a world of notifications and procrastinations.
Cooking is a good place to start practising. As HuffPost discuss, “cooking and distraction don’t go well together”. You need to stay in the zone while preparing food, otherwise you could ruin an entire meal. Take the time to really enjoy completing something without interruption, and remember this positive feeling when working on something difficult.
Engineer Hessam Moussavi goes one step further, arguing that getting creative with your hands can also improve your ability to problem solve. Any art that encourages you to create something always starts with a blank pad. This empty canvas forces you to consider your options. You see more than one solution to an idea, considering different perspectives and thinking outside the box.
Creating is fun! And there’s loads of bonuses: the sense of accomplishment you feel from making something yourself, the self-esteem boost as your skills progress over time, the knowledge that you’re taking an active step to increase your wellbeing.
Matthew Riccio, speaking to HuffPost, said it best: “Participating in an activity can help to encourage a sense of trust, community, meaning, purpose, belonging, closeness and intimacy, all of which have been linked to things like increased happiness, decreased depression and greater positive overall wellbeing.” (Just think of the altruistic value in cooking for someone else, for example!).
This increased self-esteem from being creative can open doors to your heart, encouraging you to focus on emotions and feelings that you may otherwise ignore. Hessam Moussavi believes that art allows us to “break free from personal limitations” and surpass our weaknesses, like a lack of confidence and optimism.
So next time you’re feeling anxious about something, get your hands dirty..!
Looking for more ways to boost your creativity and take control of your wellbeing? We’ve got loads more ideas!