Did you know that your creativity is directly linked to your cognitive health?
That’s right: the innate artistic skill that everyone is born with is both an indicator of and contributor to healthy brain function.
Science has found that being creative helps to increase cognitive abilities and improve mental health in a number of ways. Now you have a genuine reason to pursue that artistic passion that you’ve always wanted to!
In 2016, the journal Psychiatric Danubuina  published a paper detailing the numerous links between creativity and health cognitive function.
According to the paper:
“Creative people have less hemispheric dominance.” This means that their brains are more easily able to tap into both hemispheres of the brain in order to engage in their art.
The brain’s right hemisphere is more dominant when it comes to finding solutions, metaphoric thinking, an attitude of playfulness, visualization, conceptualization, and imagination. However, the left hemisphere also plays a role in art because it provides logical balance to the more imaginative side of the brain. While the right side is typically seen as the “artistic” side of the brain, engaging both hemispheres helps to create better-rounded, deeper creativity.
“The brain is capable of making new connections, activating new pathways and unmasking secondary roads.” Neuroplasticity is a very important aspect of brain health. As we age, our brains tend to grow less adaptable, the brain matter actually stiffening as plaque builds up. This limits our brain function and prevents our brains from finding alternative neural pathways to effectively transmit information and electrical signals.
Keeping your brain pliable and “plastic” will maintain healthy brain function into your advanced years. Music is amazing for improving neuroplasticity. As the paper detailed, fMRIs conducted on musicians proved that their brains were better able to reorganize the motor and auditory cortex in the brain.
Creative arts cause “changes in neurotransmitter and hormone serum levels”. While the paper mentioned music specifically, there is also evidence that all artistic endeavors can elevate your mood and increase the production of important brain chemicals. The “Mozart Effect” shows that listening to music can have a number of benefits, including:
Faster recovery after brain injury
Enhanced motor skills
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As the study made clear, “All kinds of arts (music, painting, dancing...) stimulate the brain. They should be part of treatment processes (for brain lesions and dementia).”
Isn’t that fascinating? Simple creative endeavors like art, playing an instrument, writing, and dancing can help to keep your brain young, pliable, and healthy. It will also elevate important hormone and neurotransmitter levels and improve brain function overall.
Definitely a great reason to tap into your creative side—it’s going to keep your brain working well for years to come!
Creativity is like a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it will grow. The key to being a more creative person is, simply, to engage in more creative activities on a regular basis.
If you want to improve your creativity for the sake of increasing brain function, here are some things you can try:
Find an art you enjoy. Whether it’s painting, sketching, sculpting, woodworking, writing, coloring, dancing, or playing an instrument, there will be some form of art you will enjoy—and which will help to improve your brain health. Try your hand at a few different forms of art until you find one you love, then try to spend a little time each week practicing and refining that art.
Change your surroundings. We humans tend to be creatures of habit, and we grow accustomed to routines as well as spaces. If you want to be more creative, get outside of your “comfort zone” and get someplace new. Even if you’re doing the same work, the new environment will still force your brain to adapt. It’s a highly effective way to flex your brain in your regular work and life routine.
Capture ideas. Our brains need to be “trained” to think creatively. One of the best ways to do that is to give room in your mind for ideas to grow, then capture those ideas by writing them down and digging deeper to develop them. The more you dive into the ideas, the more you will train your brain to examine critically and evaluate creatively.
Walk and imagine. Go on a walk in a park, down your city streets, or even just around your office. While you walk, shut off your phone and any other devices, and instead let your mind wander. See where your imagination takes you, and actively go down the imaginary paths. Engaging in this kind of imagination is absolutely vital for the development of your creative side!
Meditate. Meditation is amazing for calming your brain and clearing your mind of stressful thoughts, but it can also help to improve your cognitive health and expand your creativity. If you need a creative solution to a problem or you just want to see where your mind takes you, sit someplace quiet and dark, close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Instead of focusing on clearing your mind of all thoughts, let the imaginative thoughts inhabit your mind space and give them room to breathe and develop. You’ll find you end up in some truly amazing places!
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