Why Creativity is Vital to Health

This article was inspired by a question from my dear friend, Hannah, who lives half a world away in Australia. Check out her site for beautiful writing and photographs about food and healing. 

Dear Lily,
Tell me about creativity specifically. How does it relate to our health and relationship with food?
Love, Hannah

Dear Hannah,

I wish I could draw you a flow chart. I’ll try to break it down for you:

agency |ˈājənsē| noun: action or intervention, especially such as to produce a particular effect • The capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power.

Agency is at the core of health.

Agency is at the core of health. Without it, we are unable to change our actions to heal or strengthen ourselves. Without agency, you could not decide to start flossing, jogging, or going to bed earlier. You would always be a victim of your whim and impulse; no conscious progress could be made.

My friends and clients often say to me, “If I could just make myself ____________, I would be all set.” This sense of being powerless to make changes is a lack of agency, and the opposite of agency is victimhood. Without the ability to change my actions, I am a victim of my own self-sabotaging habits.

Real-life example: my boyfriend is moving in a few weeks, and he asked for my help. What would you do if you wanted to be able to lift heavier things? I’ve started working out, so that I can help him carry heavy furniture up flights of stairs. I lift my little tiny three-pound weights over and over, building up my muscles so I eventually can lift five pounds, then ten, then twenty, then a bookcase.

creativity |ˌkrē-āˈtivitē| noun: the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.

Creativity is practice for every other choice you'll have to make.

Creativity is the three-pound weight to agency's bookcase. Creativity is the way we exercise small amounts of agency, so that we can build up to bigger changes. You use your creativity muscle when you get dressed, put together your morning smoothie, and decide what to have for lunch or where to go on a jog.

From there, you can build up to more substantial creative choices, like committing to a self-care practice, or asking for more respect/money/appreciation at work or home. Eventually you are consciously creating your entire life: health, career, relationships, etc.

Creativity is vital to your health.

Creativity is an important tool in improving your health, because it allows you to experience being behind the wheel of your own life. It gives evidence that a series of small intentional actions can add up to life-changing results. It allows you to experience agency, even in the face of limiting circumstances. Creativity gives you the power to make choices that benefit you.

This principle is so noticeable in our relationship with food. What percentage of the food that you eat do you consciously choose to eat? Do you eat mindlessly, or because it was the easiest choice?

Creativity lets you prepare for difficult choices.

This is where creativity comes in. Instead of making the easy, simple, or comfortable choice, you can exercise a small amount of creativity and improve your health.

What would it look like to creatively approach breakfast? Maybe it’s as simple as adding spinach to your fruity smoothie. Or maybe you can take on experimenting, and find a breakfast that actually makes you feel your best. (Check out my Breakfast Experiment.)

Getting creative with your finances, relationships, wardrobe, or spirituality can hugely benefit your health and happiness. You can bring humor, vulnerability, and attention to areas that have been on autopilot. I encourage you to start small, and think of it as “practice” rather than something to succeed or fail at.

practice |ˈpraktəs| verb: carry out or perform (a particular activity, method, or custom) habitually or regularly • actively pursue or be engaged in (a particular profession or occupation).

Practicing creativity:

  • Reaffirms your innate agency and ownership of your life.

  • Allows you to make conscious and significant changes to your benefit.

  • Builds your tolerance for uncertainty and discomfort.

  • Opens up possibilities for increased joy that you may have previously overlooked.

These actions are all vital resources when healing or strengthening your body. As you begin this process,  even a tiny spark of a creative practice will grow and grow, opening the door to increased health, vitality, and happiness.

It's a chance to get to know me, share your story, and brainstorm some first steps you can take towards feeling at home in your skin.