Question for the audience: At which point was it dictated that our hobbies had to become our side hustles? Take a quick scroll through social media and you’re likely to see more than a few messages themed around the now-classic quote: “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”.
While there’s certainly some truth to that statement – one can only hope to be in a profession that brings some semblance of happiness or joy – there’s a certain point where work is, well, just work – even those in creative fields experience burnout and need something to balance their 9-to-5 (and the 5-to-9). The answer for many people is something creative – be it painting, collage, photography, even sports or movement – but actually doing that creative thing is a whole different story.
Think back to when you were young. Creativity likely came easy to you, crayons a regular occurrence, along with bits of paper, finger painting, plenty of movement and more. For many of us, that creativity is slowly replaced with the to-do’s of our lives – drawing gives way to homework, and practices of some kind, test prep gives way to job applications and working lunches. Many of us allow our creativity to die off and be replaced with things and tasks deemed “grownup”, but it turns out, by allowing our more freewheeling, carefree sides to fade, we could be missing out on some major benefits.
According to NCBI, creativity could actually support mental health, brain function and even our physical wellbeing – and this has been found to be especially true for patients suffering from dementia. That’s because creativity allows you to access your inner self, tapping into what makes you, you, all while heightening your senses in the process. Have you ever been so engrossed in a project that you look up and suddenly hours have passed in the blink of an eye? That’s because a creative project or task can actually help you get into a meditative state, helping to reduce anxiety, depression and support stress relief. And if that’s not enough for you, creativity has even been found to support a stronger immune system. Really! In one study it was found that patients who wrote about their daily experiences showed higher counts of CD4+ lymphocytes – key in maintaining a strong immune system – and even exhibited better pain management.
If that’s not enough to inspire you to pick up a paintbrush, we’re not sure what will. But it’s worth noting that creativity for the sake of creativity is a benefit in its own right. Humans are creative by nature – we built the pyramids, recorded our stories in ancient caves, painted the Sistine Chapel, and invented the internet (among many, many other things, obviously) – all of that takes creativity, and if we allowed our creative selves to fizzle, the world would be a much drabber place. If you’re looking for ways to bust out of a creative funk, check out our tips below for harnessing your creativity and living your most creative life (yes, even those of you who claim they can’t draw a circle):
Do something that doesn’t earn you money
Repeat after us: everything you do doesn’t have to be a side hustle. These days, it’s common practice to monetize everything – or think we have to. Great at calligraphy? Why not host a class? Love being behind the lens? Photograph weddings! It can be great to turn a hobby into a job, but at a certain point a job is a job and we all need something to balance out all that work. Our recommendation? Find something you can get lost in, and get lost in it! Harness the meditative power of creative pursuits and work on something that’s just for you. Bonus points if you don’t post about it on social media. Why? Sometimes creative pursuits are best practiced without feedback. Do it just for you.
Movement can be creative too! But we’re not talking about hopping on the same old elliptical machine at the gym. While that is beneficial, exposing your mind to different vantage points and visual stimulus while you challenge yourself to run, climb, dance or ride your bike (or any other form of movement) could have similar benefits as other activities we think of as more traditionally creative, like painting or drawing. Leave the headphones at home to really tune in to the world around you and tune out of your own head.
Be bad at something
Have you always wanted to try something, but were afraid to even try because you thought you might be – gasp – bad at it? You’re not alone, but everyone – everyone! – has to start somewhere. So pick up that paintbrush, stock up on those markers or clay supplies and just start. Maybe it’ll be great, probably, you’ll make a mess and the results won’t look like much BUT you took the first step. Another bonus of keeping your creative endeavors off social media: nobody knows but you.
Turn off your devices
How many times have you gone to check the weather on your phone and, 20 minutes later, you’re deep into an Instagram rabbit hole? Us too. Our devices can be tools, but we all know what a time suck they can be as well. Instead of keeping your phone close by while you’re writing, reading, painting – or doing anything else that requires your attention – try turning it off, or at least leaving it in a separate room. No phone means no distraction, and you’ll likely be surprised at how relaxed you feel as you play around with whatever creative practice you’ve chosen to take on.
Now it’s your turn! Let us know your tips for getting creative by tagging us on social @AvocadoMattress and #AvocadoGreenMagazine!