How Creativity Can Help You Cope With Mental Illness

When I was first diagnosed with bipolar, I suffered from a variety of seriously negative thoughts and emotions. From feelings of embarrassment and shame, to feeling abandoned by people I cared about, to feeling confused about my diagnosis, my mind was constantly overwhelmed and bombarded.

During this time, I had one powerful coping mechanism that stood out as being more potent than anything else — and that was creative expression. I decorated my home, did creative DIY projects, and practiced my photography skills. When everything else failed me, these activities kept me in a positive headspace.

Creativity for me has become a safe haven, I place I can run to for relief when I’m in the middle of the struggle. Research has proven that creativity is a wonderful way to cope with depression, process trauma, combat anxiety, and reduce stress.

Here are four reasons why it’s helpful:

1. It distracts you from negative thoughts

Whatever negative thoughts are occupying your mind, it’s hard for them to stick around when you are engrossed in the creative flow. Creativity can become all-encompassing, which is great if you’re trying to avoid ruminating on something that’s harmful to your mind.

2. It keeps you productive

Mental health struggles can really zap your energy, but I’ve found that creativity gives me an energy boost. It’s a great way to stay productive and useful when you might otherwise feel like watching some mindless television or sleeping.

3. It boosts your mood

Creativity releases the mood-boosting chemical in your brain, dopamine, which acts as a natural antidepressant.

4. It’s a means of self-expression

Creativity provides a healthy way to express feelings that might otherwise stay pent-up inside of you. Whatever mental health struggle you are experiencing, you can produce writing, artwork, poetry, or other crafts that express what you are feeling and going through.


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