5 Ways Creativity Helps with Mindful Eating
When you think of creativity, odds are you don’t think about mindful eating. Most likely, you think about music, painting, writing, dance, or other artistic endeavors.
But even though they may not seem related, here are five ways that expressing your creativity can help you eat more mindfully.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes, you can put your feelings into words? In those cases, if someone asks you how you’re feeling, you can’t answer.
Or maybe sometimes you know generally how you’re feeling – maybe upset or happy – but you don’t quite know why.
Yet another situation might be that you know what you’re feeling and why, but you need an outlet for those emotions.
In all these cases and more, creativity helps. It can provide insight into what’s going on internally, and it allows you to express those emotions, which improves the ability to identify them. Creativity also gives you a way to get the feelings and their energy outside so they’re not churning around inside anymore.
And since many people eat for emotional reasons, being able to identify those emotions, and to give them an outlet in a way that doesn’t involve eating, reduces the likelihood of emotional eating.
Another benefit of creativity is stress reduction. Some of this is because you’re expressing emotions instead of keeping them bottled up, but it’s also because being creative gives you something else to focus on.
This is also a time when you’re likely to get into a flow state. A flow state is when you’re completely focused on what you’re doing in the moment.
And if you’re focused on the watercolor you’re painting… scarf you’re knitting… garden your planting… story you’re writing… meal you’re cooking… or any other such activity, you’re no longer worrying about whatever stressed you out.
If you’re lucky, you might even have a “helper” (like I sometimes do) with your creativity, and that can help reduce stress even more.
This makes creativity a great alternative to stress eating.
Doing something creative is also very satisfying, giving you a sense of accomplishment and making you feel better about yourself.
Even before you complete something, getting a sense of your progress can give you a boost. One study found that after free art-making for 45 minutes, people got a confidence boost.
Knowing that you’re capable of this kind of creativity can help you learn to trust your instincts. That carries over to other areas of your life, including mindful eating, where trusting yourself is incredibly important.
Now, some people are certainly perfectionists in their creative processes, but even they have to acknowledge a certain truth sooner or later.
Perfection in art and creativity doesn’t exist.
I ran into this when I was working on my memoir. Much as I wanted everything to be exactly right, I eventually realized that could never happen, for two reasons:
1. My own standards kept changing, and at some point, I had to stop revising if I ever wanted to be done.
2. It’s all subjective anyway, so what one person considers perfect wouldn’t be perfect for someone else.
This is an extremely useful thing to remember with mindful eating as well. While you can learn from different experiences, you’ll always have more to learn and refine – and that’s okay.
Improves problem-solving skills
Finally, creativity helps you solve problems in a couple of ways.
One is that being creative encourages you to use different parts of your brain. This can help you approach problems in new ways, finding solutions you might not have considered before.
Plus, if you’re trying to solve something, when you take a break for a creative activity, you clear your mind of the problem. Then, when you go back to what you were working on, you can look at it with fresh eyes and may well notice a solution that had eluded you before.
And problem-solving skills come in handy with mindful eating as well, when you try to find new ways of approaching situations that previously made you want to eat when you weren’t hungry.
Use creativity to help you eat mindfully
Even if you don’t think of yourself as artistic, you can find ways to bring creativity into your life. Taking photos, baking, keeping a garden, decorating – all these and more can be creative activities.
And if you ever feel like being creative or spending time on something artistic is a waste of time, or that you have too many other things to do first, remember that creativity has many benefits that will spill over into other areas of your life, including mindful eating.
You’ll be more in touch with your feelings, have lower stress, felt more confident in yourself, won’t be as focused on perfection, and will have better problem-solving skills. And when you consider that, maybe you’ll start to think that you don’t have time not to be creative!