Hope & Healing: The UF Health Blog

The Connection Between Creativity and Healing

As a 2-year-old pediatric patient scribbles furiously in a coloring book, she's not thinking about the pain in her body, the constant beep of monitors or strangers waking her up in the middle of the night for a routine blood pressure check. She's thinking about the black and white outline on the page, the rainbow of colors in the crayon box and creating a masterpiece for Daddy. She's not thinking about healing, but that's exactly what's happening.

Creativity can be a mood booster, a pain reliever and a welcome distraction to an otherwise dull day.

"Most of us feel that there is no time for the indulgence art making," Tina Mullen, director of UF Health Shands Arts-In-Medicine Program. "In Arts-In-Medicine, we stress that it’s not about setting time aside to make great art, but rather being creative in the moment - wherever you are. Take five minutes to draw a coffee cup mandala right at your desk. Notice the sunlight as you walk to your next meeting and snap a picture with your phone. These simple activities engage the brain in ways that encourage a mental shift, reduce stress, and simply make you feel better. And if that’s all it takes, why not do it every day?"

The Connection Between Creativity and Healing

In a 2010 study of more than 30 patients with chronic illness and cancer, creativity, including visual art activities, had a positive effect. Patients reported feelings less stress and anxiety, a decrease in negative emotions, and improved medical outcomes. Patients also believed the art projects distracted them from ever-present thoughts about their illnesses, and helped them express the grief they felt as a result of the illnesses and treatment.

Individuals who are relatively healthy can also find respite in creativity, as well as a break from their always-connected world.

"It can be incredibly easy to just consume — from emails, television, social media, and other technological demands — instead of create. Creating allows us to turn off these distractions and contribute something to the noise. That helps restore balance to your life, which can improve your mood," Mullen said.

352Creatives Brings Creativity to Everyday Life

On February 26, UF Health, The University of Florida and The City of Gainesville will come together to encourage cultural organizations, businesses, artists and individuals to join in on a one day event of “pop-up” style art-making aimed at demonstrating that creativity can be fun for all, and can make our communities stronger and healthier. Why? Because, after 25 years of bringing art to patients in our hospital, there is one thing we’ve learned – each one of us is creative! And it’s the power of creativity that can lead to a better sense of health and wellbeing. It sounds like a miracle, but it’s actually very simple – creativity is always with you, it is yours and your alone, and you can use it at any time!
"We often become overwhelmed with the tasks of living and forget that one of the best ways to feel complete and happy is to simply engage in something we love – drawing, knitting, gardening, cooking, woodworking – anything that feels invigorating and enriching. That is you at your creative best," Mullen said.

Join us on February 26 for 352Creates, a community-wide celebration of art, creativity and healing. Find an event near you, or visit UF Health Shands Arts-In-Medicine for more information.

About the Author

Amanda Austin's picture

Amanda Austin

Social Media Coordinator

Amanda manages UF Health's Facebook and Twitter accounts, and curates information about healthy and wellness, health industry news, and updates on UF Health research....Read More