More information shows that taking part in creative activities can help your brain develop new pathways in your brain, thus releasing the hormone – dopamine – that makes you feel good. It reduces the effects of stress by decreasing anxiety and depression, which contributes to more positive mental health. And good news for us seniors who may be concerned about memory loss as we age, it can also improve cognition.
An article in the 2022 May/June (Issue 78) edition of Victoria’s YAM (it’s available free, and annual subscriptions for home delivery are just $26!) magazine entitled “Mind Your Mental Health: Get Those Creative Juices Flowing to Boost Your Brain,” reports on a recent study done by the BC Alliance of Arts + Culture, which looked at what people thought was important about creativity during the pandemic.
The article included a broad range of activities from listening to or creating music, to reading, watching television, spending time with the family, or learning how to dance. It also included some of my current favourites of painting and knitting.
Before the pandemic many people took part in creative activities to “have fun,” or to “experience new things,” but during the pandemic, more respondents reported that engaging in creativity was important for “improving mental health.” An additional benefit mentioned by one of YAM’s staffers was how her new hobby introduced her to a new social media community which provided customers for her new online store!
Creativity is about trying something new. It could be doing something already familiar in a different way or a different place. For example, one painter joined an outdoor painting group, adding socialization and new venues to the act of painting. Creativity is more about the process of learning rather than how good you are at it. Start with realistic expectations and be curious, be forgiving, and be flexible with yourself.
The article gave some examples of places in Victoria where you can try out dancing, singing or playing an instrument, knitting, painting, and even pottery.
Read the full YAM article here:
Two of my own activities have created different opportunities too. If you have been reading my blogs, you know that I have talked about training in karate. Learning moves requires my mind to remember sequences of how and when to move different parts of my body – like learning a dance move. My brain learns as well as my body. When the sequence becomes automatic, as when the body just reacts to a situation, this is called “muscle memory.” Knowing this helps me to feel safer. As I continue to learn and work towards higher belts, it helps me feel positive about my cognitive abilities.
Since the fall of 2021, I found I enjoy sharing my knowledge with students through classes I taught on Zoom at Victoria’s Professional Self Defence. Sadly, Zoom classes were discontinued in 2023 due to lack of space.
Knitting also requires a physical and cognitive component to learning. My hands work the stitches, as my brain interprets written patterns. The more I repeat a sequence, the less I need to keep looking at the pattern. I also think the continued movement of my fingers and hands have kept them from becoming too stiff with arthritis. The completed piece, whether it is a blanket, garment, or toy, is something I gladly give to friends and family as a gift from the heart.
The featured image above is courtesy of Tim Mossholder (SZgVPbQ7RE) on Unsplash.com.