Creative Practice & Well-being

There is significant evidence that creative practice can have a positive effect on our health and well-being. Creativity and creative expression are open to everyone, and what we are talking about here is personal, everyday creativity than enriches and adds meaning to daily life:

“Even though personal creativity may not lead to fame and fortune, it can do something that from the individuals’ point of view is even more important: make day to day experiences more vivid, more enjoyable, more rewarding. When we live creatively, boredom is banished and every moment holds the promise of a fresh discovery.”  (Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, Creativity).

“My research team has found that artistic practices like drawing mandalas, writing haiku poetry, and creating ikebana are healing and related to improving mental health. ” (David Rosen, The Healing Spirit of Haiku).

In his theory of well-being, psychologist Martin Seligman explains that, “Well-being has five measurable elements (PERMA) that count toward it:

  • Positive emotion (Of which happiness and life satisfaction are aspects)
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning and purpose
  • Accomplishment

No one element defines well-being, but each contributes to it.”[i]

Put another way, three important components of well-being are:

Social Well-being: a sense of belonging to a community and making a contribution to society.

Emotional Well-being, which means feeling good. Being happy, experiencing positive emotions like love, joy or compassion, and feeling generally satisfied with life.

Spiritual Well-being, which can include feeling connected to a higher power, a sense of meaning or purpose or feelings of peace or transcendence.”[ii]

Creative practice provides opportunities to experience all of these components of well-being: from the relationships we develop through our creative practice and the sense of community in belonging to a creative group; to the happiness and joy we can feel when expressing ourselves through art; to the meaning we find in self-expression and the connection to a higher power which we may experience when we create.

What are the most effective ways to increase well-being?

My research into well-being has taken an evidence-based approach. This means the resources and practice activities I share with you have been developed using current best practice. For example, the framework known as Five Ways to Well-being provides simple key messages about practical ways to increase well-being. The framework was developed by a UK research team and involves “a set of evidence-based actions to improve personal well-being.”  The framework identified the Five Ways to Well-being as:

  • Take Notice
  • Be Active
  • Connect
  • Give
  • Keep Learning. [iii]

Creative Ways to Well-being

I have adapted the Five Ways to Well-being framework to focus more specifically on creative actions. Perhaps you’d like to boost your creativity and well-being by purchasing a set of Creative Ways to Well-being Postcards. Each pack comes with suggested activities and a free gift to inspire you. Contact me to find out how to order your Creative Ways to Well-being Postcards.

Creative Arts Therapies

Creative Arts practice is used extensively in a variety of health settings, from therapeutic writing groups to music and art therapy, clay and sand play, storytelling and much more. Creative Arts Therapies are described as “utilising arts modalities within a relationship with a trained therapist, attending to emotional, cognitive, physical and spiritual well-being.” [iv] ANZACATA is the peak professional body representing creative arts therapists in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia/Pacific region. See the ANZACATA website for further information.


[i] Martin Seligman. What is Well-Being? – excerpt from Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being. Penn University of Pennsylvania.
[ii] Royal Melbourne Hospital. 5 Ways to Well-being
[iii] The New Economics Foundation (NEF). Five Ways to Well-being. The Evidence. 2008.
[iv] ANZACATA website