Contributing Author: Alice Krueger
Many of us realize that we feel less stressed or calmer after we have cooked or crafted something. But does creativity really help?
Research1 suggests that doing small creative projects can help people feel more relaxed and happier. The researchers studied 658 people who kept detailed diaries for two weeks. Those who did at least one small creative project each day felt both happier and that they had more personal growth (the psychological term is “flourishing”).
One theory related to this research is that the “feel good” might last into the next day, encouraging the individual to do another creative activity. This means the improved feelings might increase over time.
Another theory is that the concentration required for a creative task like cooking (following a recipe, measuring ingredients, keeping track of cooking time, tasting for the right balance of ingredients, etc.) can be beneficial. Focusing on the task may have benefits similar to meditation2.
So while macramé, embroidery, china painting and baking may not be cures for depression, they probably will lift the spirits of anyone who engages in them.
1 Conner, T. S., DeYoung, C. G. & Silvia, P. J. (2016). Everyday creative activity as a path to flourishing., Journal of Positive Psychology.
2 Qureshi, H. (2013). Can baking improve mental health?, The Guardian.