Boost Your Mood & Energy With This Quick Creativity Exercise

Science shows how small, simple acts of creativity help us flourish.

Posted Mar 27, 2018

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Creativity is one of my go-to wellness tools, as you can see from my Courage and Creativity Book List. It breaks me out of ruminating if I’m anxious. Gets me inspired when I’m craving sunshine, and there is none. When things are going well, it keeps that fire going.

Science Shows That Small, Simple Acts of Creativity Help Us Flourish

There is a LOT of science to back creativity as an effective tool to improve well-being. In this recent study, researchers found that individuals engaging in small daily acts of creativity experienced more “flourishing and positive emotions like energy, enthusiasm, and excitement the next day."

For people struggling with mental illness, flourishing may seem out of reach. But the scientific definition of flourishing is at the heart of recovery. Flourishing is defined as “an overall sense of meaning, purpose, engagement, and social connection.” Recovery is about a good quality of life, despite the presence of symptoms. It’s about having a reason to get out of bed.

"Everyday creativity" isn’t about talent, quality, or quantity. It’s about bringing something into being out of nothing. It’s about making different choices, instead of excuses. Like adding a new twist to an old recipe. Small victories of creativity. Learn more about "everyday creativity" in my Psychology Today post.

Use Free Writing to Help You Flourish (Difficulty Level: Easy / Time: 5-10 Minutes)

Try the following simple creativity exercise to boost your mental health. If you’re a health professional, share it as a wellness tool with your clients. As a corporate leader, try variations of it at staff meetings to creatively find solutions. Shout out to Natalie Goldberg, writing coach, author, and Buddhist, whom I learned this from in her book, Writing Down the Bones.

Basically, these are the ground rules: Keep your pen/fingers moving. Don’t correct mistakes. Let yourself go. For a fuller outline of guidelines, check out my post: "The Crazy Naked Truth Cheat Sheet for Writing with All Your Heart."

1. Check in with how you feel before you start. Jot that down. Or rate the intensity of your anxiety, if that's what you're experiencing.

2. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes.

3. Begin with the prompt “I know with my whole heart that…” or “I remember…” and let the flood gates open. For finding solutions, craft a tailored prompt that relates to the challenge at hand. Keep your pen moving, and see where it takes you.

4. Stop when the timer goes off.

5. Check in with how you feel now. Record anything you notice that's different.

You may find free writing can be as good as a power nap, a piece of fruit, or a cup of coffee to wake you up and recharge you.

Suggestion: Do this for 5 or 10 minutes every day for a week. Try any number of prompts. Start with a word, like blue, and go! Track how you feel before and after. Jot down if you notice improvements in energy, a sense of purpose, less anxiety, or more positive thoughts. If you do, try it for another week. Maybe it can be a part of your wellness toolbox too.

This exercise and everyday creativity shakes up your thinking, gets your energy moving, and helps you meet yourself in a way you never have. It paves the way for more wellness patterns in your life.

Tell me! Tell me!

When you've tried your hand at it, or pen in hand as the case may be, share what your experience was like in the comments below.

© Victoria Maxwell