Drawing, drawing, playing music, and writing are all pleasurable creative pastimes that can make us feel good. However, creativity is more than just lifting our mood, as many studies have shown that engaging in creative activities can also support and improve our mental health.
In this article, we explain how creative activity can boost your mental health and explore apps that can help you be creative.
How Creativity Boosts Health: The Science
According to Medical News Today, creativity is good for our physical and mental health. Activities such as art, writing, dancing, and playing music can help with self-expression, dealing with trauma, managing negative emotions, relieving anxiety, and even supporting our immune system.
Referring to practices such as art and music therapy (non-verbal therapeutic approaches) can also be effective in helping with trauma, anxiety, and mood disorders, just to name a few.
If you’re looking to pick up a new creative hobby or learn how your current pastime can benefit your health, these activities and creative apps might be just what you’re after. Thanks to our wonderful world of technology, you can enjoy the following creative activities anytime, anywhere on your phone, tablet or desktop.
Coloring books for adults are all the rage for a reason. Coloring is a calming activity that helps your mind and body relax, inducing a meditation-like state as it reduces restless thoughts.
You’ll find many great coloring book apps on Android, but one of the best apps to support your mental health is color therapy. Color Therapy, free on iOS, allows users to freely paint by number or color in a picture while listening to a relaxing jukebox playlist. It’s also a social app, which means you can follow and connect with other artists, and take part in coloring challenges.
download: Color Therapy for iOS (Free in-app purchases available)
A 2010 study published in PubMed Central found clear signs that engaging in the arts has a significant positive impact on our health. Art gives us a way to express ourselves or things that are difficult to put into words.
Drawing can also help relieve stress, spark our creativity and boost our self-esteem, making it an excellent creative pastime that benefits our mental health. Whether you want to browse websites that teach you how to draw, or just grab a pad and pencil and start sketching, the activity of drawing can support and improve your mental health.
Sketchbook is an expressive drawing app for all abilities. It is widely available on desktops, mobile phones and tablets. The free version of the Sketchbook app (available on Android and iOS) offers a large collection of pencil, pen, and stroke styles, and is easy to use with just your finger—no stylus required.
download: Android Sketchbook | iOS (free in-app purchases available)
3. Creative Writing
Creative writing isn’t just for published authors; it’s for anyone who’s looking for an expression to take care of their mental health. A study by the Association for Psychological Science explains that when people write about their emotional experiences, it can significantly improve their physical and mental health and can be used to help process trauma.
Creative writing not only helps you express your thoughts and feelings, but also boosts your self-esteem and mood. By creating a fictional world or character, you can explore topics or feelings that might be challenging, or you might just find a fun way to express yourself.
However, starting or maintaining a writing habit can be tricky, which often happens due to a lack of inspiration. Also, writing shouldn’t be an isolated discipline – it goes hand in hand with reading. The more you read, the more inspiration you get and the more you understand what makes a good story.
Wattpad is a free storytelling platform that combines writing and reading in one place. It’s a great place to test out new ideas, new plots and characters, and network with other like-minded writers.
download: Wattpad for Android | iOS (free in-app purchases available)
4. Play an instrument
Playing a musical instrument helps strengthen connections and coordination between the left side (motor function) and right side (creativity) of the brain, according to a study from St. John Fisher University. This means that playing a musical instrument can support brain development in children, but it can also improve cognitive abilities at any age.
Beyond that, music therapy is a clinical and evidence-based practice that uses music interventions to help individuals reach their specific therapeutic goals. Techniques used by certified professionals can include benefits such as stress management, improved communication, better memory, and pain relief.
Musical instruments can be expensive, but luckily, you can learn musical skills online for free, with or without an instrument. For example, learning a beatbox is a fun way to learn how to imitate drums with sounds.
If you’re looking to buy a new instrument, try Yousician. You can learn guitar, bass, piano, ukulele or sing with step-by-step video guides designed by music teachers. It’s as close as a real teacher would teach, and the app can record your performance to provide feedback on your performance.
download: Yousician for Android | iOS (Free in-app purchases available)
Like many other creative activities, dancing is a great way to express yourself and lift your mood. It boosts your self-esteem, releases endorphins, reduces stress, boosts your confidence and improves cognitive function.
Dancing in a group or with a partner can also help you bond and feel a sense of belonging. But if you’re feeling shy, it’s easy to enjoy dancing in your own home. You can try out fun online dance lessons, play dance games on your favorite console, or try dance apps.
If you want to dance to your heart’s content without any stress, Just Dance Now is for you. This is a popular rhythm game that offers a robust song library with arrangements of varying difficulty to suit all levels. Free on Android and iOS, it’s a great way to dance like no one’s watching.
download: Just Dance for Android | iOS (free in-app purchases available)
Taking care of your mental health through creativity
Being creative isn’t necessarily about the things you create; it’s also about how you feel when you take part in those activities. If you want to take care of your mental health through creative activities but don’t know where to start, try exploring the ideas above. Give yourself the time and space to find and enjoy creativity without judgment or the pressure to produce something.