Dr. Gritchen Crayon Art
Four Minute Read

Introducing a new creative outlet into your daily routine is more important to your health than you might think. Not only can creativity help you find deeper meaning in your life, it can also have vast positive impacts on your emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing.

“I think it is so important to be well rounded and have different ways to express yourself and stimulate different parts of your brain,” says Dr. Catherine Gritchen, a pediatrician with MemorialCare Medical Group, based in Long Beach. An avid crafter and artist, Dr. Gritchen confesses that she didn’t always make time to flex her creative muscles. “In the (chaos) of medical school and then pediatric residency, I really didn’t make time for the more artistic side of myself. Then came the busyness of having young children and a full-time job …”

As Dr. Gritchen’s children have gotten older she has begun to dip her toe back into the pool of creativity, inspired by a Facebook Group of mom-physicians who love to craft. “These women are amazing!” she says. Though she jokingly refers to herself as the “b-team” when it comes to crafting, she says the members are very supportive. A few weekends ago she joined some of them at Mayu Silk Art in Huntington Beach, where she and her fellow crafters designed and created their own silk accessories, such as scarves, sarongs, pillows and more.

“Lately I’ve been experimenting with abstract art with melted crayons,” she says. Pleased with the results, she’s hung a few of her creations in the exam rooms at her office. “It’s been very relaxing, and fun to do with my kids. I even shared this hobby with fellow MCMG pediatrician Julie Fallon and her children!”

Everyone needs a creative outlet, both for their physical and mental well-being. Crafting, dancing, drawing, painting and playing music are just some of the ways in which you can help your body and mind heal. Check out the ways in which creative expression enhance both your mental and physical health.

Mental Health

  • Sharpens Your Mind

Creative ventures have all kinds of positive impacts on your cognitive function because they encourage out-of-the-box and unconventional thinking that helps to stimulate both the left and right side of your brain.

Painting and drawing, for example, can stimulate your hand-eye coordination, which triggers the right side of the brain and helps to improve your motor skills. In the same way, dancing and playing a musical instrument can help improve your memory and enhance cognitive function on the left side. By expanding your repertoire of creative activities, you can help you heighten the connectivity between both sides of your brain.

  • Improves Your Mood

One of the most immediate effects of undertaking a creative project is mood improvement. Almost instantly, artistic expression helps you feel good! Even if you are not a world-renowned artist, releasing your creative side can be a fulfilling and uplifting way to transform your day-to-day routine. A healthy dose of self-expression can also allow you to identify positively with yourself and your surroundings.

Artistic activities can also improve your mood on a long-term basis. By practicing a new dance move or putting pen to paper daily, you can develop your creative skills over time and boost your self-esteem. Finally, when you have finished your project, you are left with a sense of accomplishment and the pride of a job well done!

  • Relieves Anxiety and Stress

Have you ever been so immersed in a project that you lost track of time?

By allowing yourself to completely sink into a creative venture, you are doing your mental health a favor. Artistic expression can help to give you a sense of control and purpose by allowing you to focus on the task placed in front of you. Projects like these can also help you forget your qualms and feel more at ease. Instead of worrying about your in-laws coming into town next month, your only concern is what kind of paint you decide to use.

Creative ventures help to fight anxiety because they activate the parts of your brain that process emotions. Music and art, for example, help to calm brain activity and allow the individual to feel a sense of emotional harmony. After you have finished, the sense of purpose and fulfillment can help decrease stress and restlessness in all aspects of your life.

  • Combats Depression

Creativity can also combat depression and loneliness if you take the time to include others in your artistic ventures. Dance classes, painting groups and other social activities can be helpful for those suffering from emotional distress.

If you are going through difficult life transitions, art projects such as sketching can also help decrease stress along the way. Writing down your thoughts can allow your mind to recover and cope with stressful situations. Instead of keeping your feelings bottled up about work, family or other concerns, try writing down your worries and watch as the fear is washed away. Painting and drawing can be great storytellers as well, as you use imagery to process emotions that you would rather not say out loud.

Physical Health

  • Helps You Get Active

In addition to improving your mental and emotional health, types of creativity expression can also physically change your body for the better. Some creative ventures that are more active include: dancing, yoga, sculpting, pottery and gardening. Each can have ideal impacts on your physical health because they help get your body moving. By inserting a creative activity into your daily routine, you can boost your physical health by motivating you to get your heart rate up.

  • Boosts Your Immune System

Creativity is the new Vitamin “C”! By channeling your artistic side, you can help your body fight against diseases and boost your immune system.

Music and singing therapy have been known to help decrease inflammation, which is the cause of many common illnesses. In this way, music can also help individuals with chronic pain, as the reduced inflammation helps to alleviate stress on the joints. The calming nature of musical or artistic ventures can also help those with heart conditions, as it helps to keep blood pressure low.

  • Improves Motor Skills

Painting, drawing, putting puzzles together, taking photos, woodworking ... you name it and it will help your motor skills, imporve dexterity and

Get Creative!

Setting aside some time for artistic expression is an essential aspect of overall health and wellbeing. So, whether you have a natural talent, or are a first-time artist - pick up a pen, blast some music or start writing down your deepest thoughts. Build up your creative capacity and start your path towards better health!