Even the briefest time spent on a creative pastime such as painting, writing or playing the guitar, can have a positive impact on our wellbeing and emotions.

With the new year a blank canvas, January is the perfect time to unleash your own creativity. Perhaps you could renew an old hobby or think about some of the activities that you enjoyed as a child. Or maybe you’d like to challenge yourself and try something new. There are lots of things you can do to take you out of your comfort zone and discover what you’re capable of.

Taking up a creative hobby can be a wonderful way to recharge your batteries and reignite your imagination. It’s an opportunity to try out new ideas, new ways of thinking and problem-solving. Creative activities can also help us acknowledge and celebrate our own uniqueness and improve our self-confidence.

Five benefits of being creative

1. A sense of accomplishment

When we create something that we value, even if it’s not published or displayed to the public, it gives us a sense of accomplishment and pride. The more you do, the better you get, and the greater your creative confidence becomes. This confidence can carry over into other areas of your life, increasing your overall sense of ability. 

Painting a canvas

Best activities to give you a sense of accomplishment: Painting & drawing

2. Reduced stress and improved mood

Taking the time to use your hands, mind and energy doing something creative can reduce your stress levels and improve your quality of life. It can take your mind off whatever is worrying you as it's difficult to keep ruminating on problems when you're absorbed in a creative activity. 

Gardening is a great way to improve your mood. Whether you have a small patio or a vast area, the act of making your space into a haven helps relieve stress while the garden you create can bring you even more peace. Simply being in touch with nature and the great outdoors can help you feel more removed from the stressors of daily life. If you are new to gardening, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) website has some useful tips and advice.

Planting flowers in a garden

Best activities to reduce stress & improve your mood: Cooking or gardening

3. Become a better problem solver

Creativity gives us permission to experiment in new and exciting ways which can help us develop our cognitive skills. For example, playing music can help with analytical and fine motor skills. Learning a new language can help you develop skills such as a mental flexibility, multitasking, listening and problem-solving.

Close up of hands playing acoustic guitar

Best activities to help with problem solving: Learn a musical instrument or language

4. Expanded sense of time

When you immerse yourself in a creative project, you get into what's known as the "flow" - that feeling when you're so absorbed in what you're doing, that you forget what time it is. Time slows as your thoughts slow and it’s easier to stay focused on the task in hand and feel fully engaged in the moment.

Research shows that knitting and other forms of textile crafting such as sewing, weaving and crocheting have a lot in common with mindfulness and meditation which can have a positive impact on wellbeing. Sewing has been around for thousands of years, but it has undergone a resurgence recently with lots of sewing groups popping up across the UK. One such group is London-based Sew Over It that offers sewing classes, courses and sewing equipment to members.

Senior people knitting

Best activities for expanding your sense of time: Sewing or knitting

5. Self-awareness and expression

There are lots of ways we can express ourselves, but creativity provides a great outlet for exploring the self. It connects you with yourself, and the more you know yourself, the better equipped you are to take on life's challenges. The more you create and the more you learn, the more you grow.

Writing in notepad at sunset

Best activities for improving your self-awareness and expression: Writing or photography

How to foster your creativity

If you’re feeling stuck and need some inspiration, walking is a great way to inspire creativity. You’ll be following in the footsteps of Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf, two famous authors who walked regularly to help with their creativity. Being outside in natural settings taps into all five senses, energises the body and most importantly, stimulates the imagination. So, why not put on your wide fit shoes and get out into the great outdoors. If you’re looking for new routes or places to walk, the Ramblers website lets you search for walks by postcode.

What are the best creative activities to enjoy in the winter?

There are plenty of indoor activities that can help make winter a more enjoyable and engaging time. Here are some that you may want to try:

  • Sewing
  • Knitting
  • Crocheting
  • Decopatch
  • Baking
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Reading
  • Flower arranging
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Learning a new language
  • Calligraphy
  • Scrapbooking
  • Writing
  • Pottery

Do you have a creative pastime that you’re passionate about? We’d love to hear about it.