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(2 minute read)

You may think of painting or sculpture, but actually using your imagination or planning a new route to work etc. Baking! 

A few of our team were discussing the importance of having a creative outlet and some of us were struggling to agree. It wasn’t that we couldn’t see the benefit – we could – but we just couldn’t think of any times we successfully displayed any creativity. Further into our conversation, we realised that actually, we did all have some creative outlets.

Ranging from painting to sewing, from sculpture to woodwork, from baking to writing, there were many pastimes which were clearly creative. Others of us struggled to think of any situations where we used any form of imagination. As the creatively-challenged types struggled, one of our problem-solvers searched for ‘creativity definition’ and came up with ‘the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness’.

Creativity is the way the brain processes and uses input. Think about inventors and engineers: they’re constantly creating solutions and thinking differently about how to resolve problems. Thinking about our creativity differently meant we could put forward suggestions about how we used it daily. Suddenly we found ourselves talking about using our wardrobe,  make-up or hair styling as our outlet, challenging ourselves to cycle or walk a different route home each week, problem-solving and curating an Instagram feed suddenly became creative outlets.

Feeling inspired, we discussed the various benefits of these channels. We talked about the sense of pride or accomplishment you feel, sometimes not even from completion, but just from trying, or for finding the time for yourself. Having a creative outlet can help to distract you from stressful things, such as worries from work. While you’re creating, you’re focusing on the task at hand rather than rehashing irritants from your day. That negative comment someone made about something you did? It’s hard to think about that while you’re playing the ukulele or painting pottery.

Doing something you enjoy has health benefits: it can lower your blood pressure, reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and even decrease body mass index. It can also help to reduce anxiety, stress and depression. If you have experienced a difficult time, or  can’t/don’t want to put things into words, a creative outlet can help you to express your feelings and experiences. Being creative and remaining on task is like an act of meditation which soothes you mentally.

As well as giving yourself a boost, a San Francisco State study showed that employees with a creative hobby were more likely to be helpful, collaborative and creative with their job performance. As you become more used to using your imagination, you may find yourself thinking innovatively and coming up with new ways to become more efficient at work.

If you don’t currently have a creative outlet, or your current attempts are leaving you more flustered than feeling good, give yourself some time to go for a walk and notice what’s around you. What do you find yourself particularly drawn to? Walking through town, are you transfixed by intricately iced cakes? Do you find yourself walking towards the haberdashery and wanting to stroke all of the different materials? Perhaps you’ve been ignoring your inner baker or clothing designer.

Once you’ve found your creative outlet, ensure that you schedule creative time – don’t just wait for the right moment to strike. Even if you’re not feeling particularly inspired, put the time in regularly. Like everything else, the more you do it, the better you get and the easier you’ll find it to get into the swing of it.

What’s your creative outlet? Tell us in the comments below!