Reflections With Sue Tredget – The Power of Creativity
PLC has been buzzing with creativity over the last couple of weeks! As a relative newcomer to the school, I was impressed
by the depth of artistic talent being nurtured here amongst the peppermint trees, as showcased in Footlooseand on display throughout Arts Day. What struck me most about this festival of fun was the level of participation and enthusiasm – everyone was involved, and it was wonderful to witness. We won’t all go on to be the next Liane Moriarty, Jessica Mauboy or ‘Australia’s Got Talent’ winner, but we can all enjoy and benefit from expressing ourselves through The Arts.
We Are All Creators
When I was at school, even though I played two instruments, sang in the choir, had roles in various drama productions and enjoyed writing, I never used to think of myself as a creative person. For some reason, I thought that being creative meant you had to have a talent for drawing and painting. I wasn’t good at either of these things and, as a result, I used to dread Art classes. While I loved all the colours, and appreciated shape and texture, I couldn’t seem to draw anything very well and my teachers were certainly not as encouraging as the fabulous staff we have here at PLC.
Years later, I tapped into the creativity that I now know lies within us all and discovered the healing power of words. Writing provided an outlet for my emotions and anxious thoughts, as well as another way to find meaning and a renewed sense of purpose. It sounds dramatic, but in discovering the healing power of language and self-expression, I was transformed.
‘Create’ Your Best Self
Unleashing our imagination and expressing ourselves through the Arts, is a fundamental human drive. Over thirty thousand years ago, our ancestors left their mark on the walls of caves; the need to create is in our DNA. So, it comes as no surprise that there is now increasing evidence of the power of creativity to transform lives, improve mental health and enhance wellbeing.
Creativity has been proven to reduce anxiety, depression and stress. Numerous studies have found that writing allows us to manage negative emotions in a productive way. It can also help with managing chronic pain and enhances positive experiences with an increased sense of psychological wellbeing. Art and music therapy are well-established trauma management tools that can give expression to experiences too difficult to put into words.
A 2017 UK report found that participating in the Arts can promote wellness, aid recovery from illness and prolong life. One of the case studies, a project called Strokestra that was done in collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, found that 86% of stroke patients experienced relief from their symptoms following music-making sessions.
There’s also evidence that people with musical training have better brain connectivity and that older people who participate in theatre can improve their psychological wellbeing and cognitive functioning, in particular, recall and problem-solving skills. Listening to, or playing, music has also been found to boost the immune system, regulate mood and moderate stress responses.
Dancing Our Way to Happiness
In the recent BBC documentary, Dancing to Happiness, former prima ballerina, Darcey Bussell set out to discover whether moving to music could improve mental health. She tracked the progress of various groups, including troubled adolescents and Alzheimer’s patients, who had embarked on a dance programme. The results showed very convincingly that dance, more than any other exercise, has a positive impact on our minds.
Other studies support this finding. Apart from the obvious fitness benefits, Zumba has been shown to improve blood pressure, while hip-hop and aerobic dancing can improve mood, enhance feelings of overall wellbeing and increase energy levels.
The Refuge of Art
ABC journalist, Virginia Trioli, recently spoke of ‘the refuge of art’.Artgives us sanctuary in times of strife. It can lift us up, move us to tears, make us laugh and soothe our souls. It offers relief and escape. Through art we can express our vision of the world, say what we need to say, give voice to our joy and our pain. Inthe words of Thomas Merton, ‘art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time’.
We undertake creative pursuits simply because we enjoy them. Intuitively, we know that creativity is good for us, and now we have scientific and medical evidence to prove it. Making and consuming art, of any kind, lifts our spirits, keeps us sane and helps us make meaning from our lives. So, pop on your legwarmers, ‘kick off your Sunday shoes’, pick up a pen, a piece of clay or a paintbrush, hum a melody, strum a guitar and get creative. It’s really, really good for you.