Boost your mental well-being through creative activities

November 2022

Creative activities can be beneficial to our mental well-being. They boost mood, reduce stress and anxiety – and they can help us explore difficult thoughts and emotions. Here are some tips to get started and let your creativity flow.

The benefits of creative activities, such as painting, drawing, knitting and pottery, for people’s mental health are well known. From art therapy to group pottery and drawing sessions, the use of artistic activities in mental health support is widespread. Here at West Sussex Mind we have pottery, painting, crafting, photography and poetry groups.

However, to get creative, you don’t need to join a club or group. Although being part of an art group is great for socialising, creative activities can also be beneficial as a solitary, mindful experience, where you can take some time for yourself, relax and explore your inner thoughts and emotions.

Creative activities are good for our mental health in a variety of ways. Academic research has found that making art can reduce stress, lower our anxiety levels and improve our mood. The act of creating art can also help us to explore our thoughts and emotions and distracts us from our problems while we focus on a creative endeavour for a while. And it gives us a sense of achievement, which helps to boost our self-esteem and confidence.

Don’t think you’re creative or artistic enough to get started?

Don’t be put off. Creative activities and art are for everyone, regardless of experience. Whether you’re a beginner, or someone with some more experience, art is a great way to explore, manage and help deal with your mental well-being.

You don’t have to have a massive imagination or have particular skills. Everyone has to start somewhere and over time you will find yourself improving and developing your abilities.

Coming up with ideas about what creative activity to do can be difficult. But being creative and making art isn’t just about drawing or painting – you could try collaging, dance, song writing, pottery or knitting. The list is almost endless.

And it doesn’t need to be expensive either. Something simple like drawing or writing can be done at relatively little cost. Or you might consider joining a local art club or group, which can be a great way of getting involved in creative activities, but without taking on a large cost for materials.

Getting started

Here are some ideas for creative activities to get you started. It’s important to note however that you shouldn’t limit yourself to just one creative activity. Try out multiple different activities and see which one you enjoy the most:

  • Drawing and painting – perhaps one the simplest ways to get creative and make art. You can get going by creating anything from simple doodles and detailed pencil sketches to a full-fledged paintings. Knowing what and how to draw/paint can be daunting at first. But there are a plethora of ideas online to get your started. Think YouTube tutorials as a good starting point with lots of support
  • Collaging. Collaging is a great activity to get stuck into if you are daunted and a bit apprehensive about drawing or painting. Collaging particularly lends itself to the creation of abstract pieces of art. Old newspapers or magazines that you may have laying around are great materials for collaging, or for a more personal touch try using some spare photographs
  • Pottery. Pottery is great as it’s hands-on and tactile, making it a very mindful experience. Pottery can seem inaccessible to the average person, due to the cost of equipment or materials, but joining a local club can be great way to get started making pottery
  • Writing. This is an excellent creative activity, particularly due to the wide range of ways in which you can explore and express yourself through writing. Express yourself through fiction writing, poetry or even a journal/diary
  • Sewing/knitting. Sewing and knitting are not old hat! In fact, in recent times, they have experienced a renaissance. Think of Tom Daley knitting at the Olympics or post-box toppers. Both are great activities to do alone in an evening in front of the television
  • Photography. Photography is also a great way to get out and about. Take some pictures of local landmarks and landscapes or of your favourite people. No need for an expensive camera, either. You could get started with your phone
  • Music. Learning to play a musical instrument is a fun creative activity. There are many different instruments you can learn to play, depending on interest and funds. Playing an instrument can also be a great way to socialise if you join a local group, band or orchestra
  • Dancing. This is another great way to get creative. You can learn new dances, put your own spin on classic dances and even create your own dance moves. Dancing is also a great way to socialise and get active, particularly if you join a local group
  • Acting. Finally, though it might not be everyone’s first thought as a creative activity, acting is a great way to express yourself. And it comes in all shapes and sizes – from classical Shakespeare to musicals. Joining a local drama club or group is a great way to socialise with others and get involved with your local community.

Creative activities are a great way to explore mental health and they help alleviate symptoms. Why not try something creative today?