How getting creative can cut stress, bring joy

HAVE you ever made something - a cake, a treasure box, a swing - and felt an utter sense of bliss?

Being creative is often the missing part of our lives.

As children, we get to finger paint, mould clay, build models out of cardboard, or even create Lego cities.

As adults we may have a nine-to-five job that we think takes up all our creative energy.

And, even if we don't, we may not know where to start being creative.

Yet being in touch with this side of ourselves is crucial to our emotional and physical health, believes Byron Bay psychotherapist Shirley Hughes.

She helps many of her clients express their feelings through art therapy.

But, in daily life, she says anything that involves a sense of play and creation - gardening, drawing, woodwork or baking - can help us feel happier and healthier.

If you'd like a bit of a hand with getting in touch with your creative side, check out a new book called The Creative Seed by Lilian Wissink.

She agrees with Hughes that creativity is a way of beating stress and getting in touch with our inner selves.

"In both spirituality and creativity there is something that is beyond the everyday experience of self, where one is transcending the ordinary and expected sense of self," she says.

"We are tuned in to our senses - sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste and intuition … a transformation occurs.

"We do not so much change as rather become more of who we already are.

"We give form and expression to our inner potential."

Of course before we can even start to do this, Wissink acknowledges that we have several obstacles to overcome.

These can include critics - other people who put our creative work down, as well as our own inner critic, procrastination, perfectionism, time constraints, fear of the unknown and more.

In her book she offers exercises for overcoming all of these, and examples of others who have done so.

Whether you are just starting or have had some experience in your creative domain, think about some playful activities to get the creative juices flowing, she says.

  • Write about the most exciting day in your life
  • Pick an object in your home and draw it
  • Collect pictures in books that inspire you and create a scrapbook
  • Play music you enjoy and dance to it
  • Sing a song each day
  • Be a character in a play or film and think and act how he/she would talk about a particular subject at a dinner party
  • Find your old school recorder and play it
  • Mould clay or plasticine into whatever you like

Whatever you choose, make time every day to get creative - and to ditch health-damaging stress.

Helen Hawkes is a life and wellness coach. Go to