All human beings are creative by nature. We need to be creative to solve problems and to see the world in new ways. We are creative every day just by living, but that is not enough to satisfy our creative nature. Especially for college students, time for true creativity is hard to come by. College students are stressed and drained; it seems inconceivable to add another activity to our plates. But what if I told you that making time to be creative has immediate and long term cognitive benefits.
Being creative gives you time to flow. Flow refers to when you are fully absorbed into one task that you lose all track of time. This flow is proven to boost your mood, decrease your heart rate, and decrease anxiety. Flow is activated by repetitive motions, like strokes of a paint brush or movement of knitting needles. These motions cause your brain to release dopamine, which is a brain hormone that increases happiness.
Creative activities can also serve as a meditative practice because it has similar effects on calming the brain. Researchers also found that processing negative thoughts or trauma through artistic expression can bring relief and closure.
In case you are not yet convinced, increased intentional creativity can also make you smarter. Studies have shown that people who engage in creative activities have better connectivity between the right and left hemispheres of their brains. This improves cognitive and motor functions.
Even if it is just an hour a week, pick up that paint brush, guitar, or knitting needle and let those creative juices flow. This time does not go unrewarded in your brain.