The Healing Power of Creativity – plus 50 exercises to stimulate your creativity

Dancing in the wind on a wonderful, windy day in Moab
Dancing in the wind on a wonderful, windy day in Moab


Can you imagine having better health, fewer doctor visits and using less prescribed and even over-the-counter medication?

Can you imagine having a more positive outlook on life and feeling more connected to others?

Can you imagine becoming more involved in activities and thinking more clearly as you age?

You can, according to a national study. You don’t even need to eat more kale or run a marathon. The key is stimulating your creativity and exposure to the arts.

The study, Arts & Aging Study Landmark study on the effects of arts participation on an aging population, found that people involved regularly in arts programs had significantly improved physical and social well being.

Art  is all around us
Art is all around us
Other studies have demonstrated that being involved in art or just viewing art improves cognitive functioning and adaptability.

The creativity arts “cause the brain to continue to reshape, adapt, and restructure, thus expanding the potential to increase brain reserve capacity.” Aging: What’s Art Got To Do With It?

Creating a garden is an art that evolves and grows over time.
Creating a garden is an art that evolves and grows over time.


We don’t need to be a Picasso or an Adele to be creative. We certainly don’t need a studio or fancy tools either. There are many ways we can express creativity.

+ Animation,
+ Architecture
+ Body art
+ Brief art
+ Cinema
+ Comic writing
+ Collage making
+ Crocheting and other fabric arts
+ Dance
+ Digital art
+ Doodling
+ Drawing
+ Engraving
+ Flower arranging
+ Fractal art
+ Gardening
+ Gastronomy ( cooking)

Children know the fun of pretending and dressing up.
Children know the fun of pretending and dressing up.

+ Gold-smithery, silver-smithery, and jewellery
+ Graffiti
+ Music
+ Opera
+ Painting
+ Photography
+ Poetry
+ Pretending and dressing up

Your art form  may be creating  rock arches by the creek.
Your art form may be creating rock arches by the creek.

+ Poster and Print making
+ Pottery
+ Rock or sand art
+ Sculpture
+ Scrap booking
+ Singing
+ Theater
+ Woodwork
+ Writing
and my favorites:
+ Seeing designs in the clouds
+ Blowing bubbles
+ Splashing in the water and jumping in a pile of autumn leaves to see movement and color

the beauty of autumn In fact looking at photographs of nature provides a double benefit – the enjoyment of the photographic art form and the healing power of nature images.

This article has more information about the benefits of visual nature: Gazing at Virtual Nature Is Good for Your Psychological Well-Being


That is a question most of us ask, especially when our daily lives are filled with parenting or work activities.

I doodled circles and  sketched people.
I doodled circles and sketched people.
A friend of mine spent hundreds of dollars on art supplies – that sat in the closet.

“I am too tired to paint at the end of a work day” she said.

Together we searched out ways to incorporate creativity in our work time on a daily basis.

We came up with a series of simple ones including singing songs while we drove to and from work and having a miniature sand tray on the desk for sand art drawings.

I doodled in meetings while she crocheted, activities that turned out to help us listen more attentively in long (boring?) meetings.

One time I even did finger “painting” in the fog on the car window, laughing at the silly faces I made before I started the car.

Davie taught me about wrapping the house in string!
Davie taught me about wrapping the house in string!
We don’t need expensive tools or canvases. Any surface and any place can be an invitation to be creative. My grandson Davie wrapped the inside of my house in string one weekend. The ball of string cost $2.00.


Recently I found myself again feeling at a creative low. That happens sometimes, especially if it is rainy out or near the anniversary of some past sorrow.

I puttered and dithered and sampled different projects I had. Nothing seemed to spark my creative passions. Have you ever had that blah feeling?

Julie suggested I do quick sketches.
Julie suggested I do quick sketches.
My sister Julie, one of my role models and a delightful artist, suggested I do quick sketches. She said it might help if I resisted the urge to produce art that was perfect or professional.

“Draw for the fun of it,” she said.

I did and it was fun and messy and simple. My creative stagnation started to shift.


Quick sketches helped but I knew myself. I knew that when I was at a low spot I needed to JUST DO IT.

I needed to take time every day and do something creative. The challenge was I had been alive for 66 years. That is 24,090 days!!! My well of ideas was a bit dry.

I needed help so I went on line and searched out “prompts” and daily exercises for creativity. I looked at ideas from all over the world and from kindergarten teachers and doctors for the elderly.

I wanted creative exercises that would stretch me and make me giggle.

I wanted prompts that would allow me to record what was beautiful in my life at that moment. I wanted prompts that would uncover and free areas of restriction or hesitancy.

I picked out 50 of them.

Over the couple of months I am going to share them with you as well as some of the projects that I have created from the exercises. I hope you will share your creations too on facebook or by emailing them to me.

We can encourage each other to be creative. We can share smiles.

So here goes…..
Think about the music that has influenced your life. Create a list of the songs that make you smile and cry and sigh. If you have access to the music, make a playlist on your cell phone or computer or however you play your music.

Draw a picture of an album cover for one of those songs.

I drew an album cover of a native flute album.
I drew an album cover of a native flute album.

My song list ranged from songs by the Doors, the Beatles and John Denver to the Three Tenors and Mary Youngblood.
I did a quick sketch of a Mary Youngblood album cover and noted where we had traveled that day listening to her music.

To Be continued. Tomorrow – Creative Exercise 2-5


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