Teen Breathe

Everyday inspiration for creativity

Getting creative doesn’t have to mean making a work of art or writing poetry – smaller sparks of imagination can be just as special
WORDS: Caroline Butterwick

When you think of creativity, you might picture an artist at work on a big project. Perhaps you imagine someone spending hours painting a canvas, crafting a beautiful pot out of clay or composing a powerful piece of poetry.
While these can all be worthwhile and enjoyable pursuits, there are many smaller-scale creative activities that easily go unrecognised but are no less valuable. Here’s how to weave more of them into your day.

What is creativity?

Creativity is defined by Encyclopaedia Britannica as the ability to ‘bring into existence something new’, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a completely original idea. Lots of creative activities involve putting your own spin on something. For example, tweaking a baking recipe so that you decorate a cake with a different kind of icing, which changes the flavour, is being creative.

You might not always realise it, but activities like this are just as worthy of acknowledgment as bigger, more obvious artistic feats.

What are the benefits of being creative?

  • Feeling satisfaction. There’s the pleasure of having made something, as well as enjoying yourself in the process.
  • Expressing yourself. It can be a way to express yourself, such as sharing your ideas or exploring a topic you’re interested in. Perhaps you’ve found it meaningful to write a poem about your feelings or to sketch a picture of a person you care about.
  • Achieving flow state. You may also find that you enter a flow state, where you get lost in an activity, your mind running free as you become absorbed in what you’re doing. Studies have shown that being in a flow state can reduce anxiety and boost your mood.
  • Improving wellbeing. Doing an activity that allows you to enter this state encourages the body to release the feel-good hormones known as endorphins, while reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This all makes engaging with something creative a boost for mental wellbeing and a great way to unwind. And there’s no pressure to produce a masterpiece!

Eight ideas to help you get creative in everyday ways

1. Make music

    This could be as simple as singing along to a favourite song. Notice how the music makes you feel and what it’s like to use your voice. Sing like no one’s listening – allow yourself to let go and fully enjoy the lyrics and melodies.

    2. Take a picture

      You could set yourself a theme, such as taking photos of objects, people and scenes that make you happy or that you’re grateful for, or try to take photos in different styles. Print out your favourites to decorate your room.

      3. Experiment in the kitchen

      If you feel able, you could devise your own concoction, but using other people’s recipes is just as good – you can always add some complementary ingredients to make it your own. Once you feel confident enough, you could show off your cookery skills by inviting family or friends to try some of your creations.

      4. Customise your clothing

      It’s probably best to start with items of clothing that you don’t wear so much any more, so have a rummage in your drawers and dig out that old T-shirt and turn it into something new. Maybe keep the scissors away from a treasured top! Use fabric pens to draw designs, embroider a pattern with coloured threads, or go all out and give it new life by tie-dying it (see issue 35 for a guide).

      5. Do some doodling

      This is a fun way of creating art that takes away the pressure of feeling like you have to make something with a purpose. Simply grab a pen or pencil and a sheet of paper and let your mind wander as you doodle in whatever way you want. Or how about cutting out a piece of card in the shape of your initial and decorating it with doodles?

      6. Curate a collection

      Do you have postcards, photos or posters gathering dust? Arrange them on your wall with some craft tape or sticky putty. They can help brighten up your room and also be a lovely way of showcasing things that matter to you.

      7. Become the canvas

      Think about trying some nail art or applying henna designs (see issue 38). Do this with a friend so you can take turns to decorate each other’s arms or fingers. Work together on creating different patterns and techniques as you enjoy sharing an artistic moment.

      8. Create a collage

      This involves taking existing materials and then creating something new from them. There are no rules on what can be included. You could base your collage around a theme, such as a day trip you enjoyed, by pasting items like postcards, pictures and ticket stubs onto a piece of paper. Or you could cut up catalogues, cards or old notebooks and have fun creating something new.