It’s been said that a creative life is a healthy life, but how many people actually achieve that? Pursuing our passions can be difficult, but recent research shows that it’s a worthwhile endeavor because it’s good for our health.
Evidence that creative minds are healthy minds is popping up left and right, saying that the act of creating gives us a sense of happiness, can help lessen anxiety, and even make us more resilient and capable of problem solving.
But one of the greatest obstacles in actually following through with the things we’re passionate about is our jobs.
Studies have shown that work stress is killing us, and not just creatively, but also when it comes to our health. This is because workplace stress doesn’t just stay at work; it follows us home and affects our sleep, causes weight gain and elevated glucose levels, and can even promote upper respiratory infections and cardiovascular disease.
So what are we to do? One theory says that we should start doing what we love instead. A recent CNN article quoted Confucius who once said if you have a job you love, you will never work a day in your life. Tony Wagner, an Innovation Education Fellow at Harvard’s Technology and Entrepreneurship Center believes in this whole-heartedly. He says imagining and creating gives us a sense of purpose and drive, and if we lack those things, a feeling of emptiness can become our default. As a result, there can be temptation to fill that void with false friends, material things and even medication – none of which do any longterm good.
One of Wagner’s healthiest suggestions in avoiding this emptiness and igniting our creativity is simply to have fun. Create, imagine, and innovate, he says; these are the things that naturally take place when we’re at play. He recommends finding ways to take time off work, step away from social commitments and otherwise and recharge your energy levels by doing things like taking walks, getting regular exercise, spending time in nature, listening to music, and volunteering.
Another practice he sees as beneficial is self-reflection. We can do can this by establishing a regular mindfulness practice through meditation, keeping a journal, walking, yoga or other activities that challenge the mind.
Whatever the activity may be, the important thing is just to find it what it is, and then find a way to practice it regularly. One of our recommendations is running. Going out for a run gives you an opportunity to escape into your own world, tune out everything else, refocus, and be refreshed.
Feeling inspired? Now get out there and be creative, for the sake of your health.
May 25th, 2012