Pottery, painting or piano-playing – whatever gets your creative juices flowing will boost your mood, according to new research.
Almost 50,000 people took part in the BBC Arts Great British Creativity Test.
It suggested that being creative can help avoid stress, free up mind space and improve self-development, which helps build self-esteem.
The findings also said there are emotional benefits from taking part in even a single session of creativity.
But there are cumulative benefits from regular engagement in arts activities and trying new pursuits is particularly good for our emotions and wellbeing, it suggests.
The results were revealed on Wednesday as part of the Get Creative Festival – the UK-wide celebration of creativity that runs from 11-19 May.
The survey found that, of the sample:
- 76% of participants used creative activities as a “distraction tool” to block out stress and anxiety
- 69% used them as a “self-development tool” to build up self-esteem and inner strength
- 53% used them as a “contemplation tool” to get the headspace to reflect on problems and emotions
The survey also revealed that the most benefit comes from taking part in live creative activities that involve face-to-face social interaction, like singing in a choir or taking part in a group painting class.
Virtual creative experiences also have some benefits, but there is not as much gain.
The research project was led by Dr Daisy Fancourt, a senior research fellow at UCL.
Dr Fancourt said: “You don’t actually have to take part for a long time for it to have benefits – you actually get benefits from single sessions.
“Also, we find that for somebody who’s been doing the same activity for more than 10 years, it actually starts to have less of an effect. So there’s a definite benefit to novelty.
“And we also found that talent doesn’t affect this relationship. It’s not about being good at it – it’s genuinely the taking part that counts.”
As part of the Get Creative Festival 2019, people will be invited to take a Feel Good Test to find out how getting creative could benefit them.
BBC Arts editor Lamia Dabboussy said: “Lots of us lead increasingly busy lives and this research shows that even a small amount of time spent on creative pursuits can really make a difference.
“I hope the results will give audiences the inspiration and confidence to take up a new creative hobby in 2019.”
The top 10 most popular creative pastimes from the survey sample were:
- Singing – 12.4%
- Painting, drawing, printmaking or sculpture – 12.2%
- Gardening – 12%
- Reading novels, stories, poetry or plays – 11.9%
- Playing a musical instrument – 9.8%
- Cookery or baking – 9.8%
- Crafts – EG knitting and embroidery – 7.8%
- Creative writing – 6.8%
- Dancing – 5.5%
- Photography 4.7%