(Had to learn guitar to put music to my lyrics.)
Utilizing your creative talents can be just as beneficial physically as they are spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically.
Pat Snyder, author of “The Dog Ate My Planner,” has taken her ability to inject humor and creativity into the stressful areas of her life, and organized it into a complete series of wacky workshops to teach others how to do the same.
There are numerous humorous books, CDs, and DVDs on the market to satisfy every personality and taste; such as Laughter from the Pearly Gates, Healing Through Humor, or any family-oriented comedy special. In fact, Healing Through Humor, by Charles and Frances Hunter, has been used by medical professionals during laughter therapy sessions. The forward was written by Dr. Francisco Contreras, who is quoted as saying, “Positive emotions invoked by humor have healing effects.” And Dr. Don Colbert claims, “Laughter is absolutely the best medicine as it charges the immune system and triggers the relaxation response.”
Here are some other positive effects from laughter:
- Your heart and lungs are stimulated.
- Your heart beats faster and your blood pressure rises.
- You breathe deeper and oxygenate more blood.
- Your body releases natural pain killers called endorphins, and you produce more immune cells.
- You burn seventy-eight times more calories than when the body is in a resting state.
- Your diaphragm, facial muscles, and internal organs all get jostled in what some professionals call “internal jogging.”
And after laughing your muscles and arteries relax, which is great for easing pain. Likewise, your blood pressure subsides and your pulse drops below normal: all of which researchers attribute to aiding digestion.
(One of my fine art pieces called “Life’s storyboard #1)
However, creativity doesn’t have to be combined with humor to be beneficial at releasing stress, or for any number of other creative healing therapies, such as Veteran and Educational institutions, like Montclair University, having programs for veterans and military students to relieve stress and exorcise pent-up emotions through creative art and writing.
Dr. Marie Cascarano, Coordinator of Health Promotion for the University, claims, “Everyone experiences stress throughout their daily lives, but the key to managing daily stressors is finding a way to take breaks throughout the day to take care of you emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Creating art and discussing the process can help you increase your self-awareness and relieve stress while using your creativity.”
(My first attempt at negative etching.)
Another creative outlet used extensively by novice and professional alike is the various forms of music therapy: an outlet I utilize for stress relief and healing.
Sung-Chi Chen, BSN, RN, says, “Music therapy has shown positive outcomes on physiological and psychological well-being among older people.” However, music therapy is clearly beneficial to everyone, not just the elderly. For instance, on Art Drum.com there is a list of twelve ways drumming benefits students: everything from physical benefits to helping them focus and become better students.
All forms of music can be therapeutic, but I am strongly attracted to percussion and drum therapy, including drum circles.
When you have individuals like Babatunde Olatunji quote, “Rhythm is the soul of life. The whole universe revolves in rhythm,” it is not simply a statement off the cuff. These are words backed by thousands of years of human culture utilizing percussion instruments to communicate, celebrate, instill a strong sense of social community, worship, heal, and even bid their last farewells. After all, who of us does not know of the strong role drums have played in many communities like the African tribes, Australian aborigines, and Native American tribes?
Modern-day professionals, medical and otherwise, have discovered some fascinating facts regarding percussion and/or drum therapy. For instance, Ben Schwarcz, a professional music therapist with Alternative Depression Therapy, claims “Drumming Therapy taps into layers of the mind and body that other modalities cannot. Studies have shown that repetitive drumming changes brain wave activity, inducing a state of calm and focused awareness.”
(My favorite instrument to play.)
One of the best studies done backing the benefits of drumming was published in Alternative Therapies in January, 2001, entitled, “Composite Effects of Group Drumming Music Therapy on Modulation of Neuroendocrine-Immune Parameters in Normal Subjects.” Some of the key discoveries for this research are as follows:
“Both neuroendocrine and immunologic alterations were found in drumming subjects following this composite intervention compared with controls. These changes appear to be immunoenhancing (increased DHEA-to-cortisol ratios, increased NK cell activity, and increased LAK cell activity).” In other words, not only can it immediately reduce stress, but it “has the potential to produce cumulative or sustaining neuroendocrine or immunological effects that could contribute to the well-being of an individual facing a long-term condition in which elevated NK cell activity is known to be beneficial.”
It would literally require volumes of text to do this subject justice. However, there is enough evidence shown here to come to the conclusion that all forms of creative therapies or outlets have some form of positive effects that can be acquired through personal or group participation. So be sure to make some time during your week to let your God-given creative juices flow.
Bittman, Dr.Barry B., et al. “Composite Effects of Group Drumming Music Therapy on Modulation of Neuroendocrine-Immune Parameters in Normal Subjects.” Alternative Therapies. Jan. 2001 Vol.7 No.1 P.38-47 Print.
Hunter, Charles and Frances. Healing Through Humor. Creation House Press. Lake Mary Florida 2003. Print.
Phillips, Bob and Jonny Hawkins. Laughter From the Pearly Gates. Harvest House Publishers. Eugene, OR. 2004. Print.
Rodak, Denise Y. “Stress Relief Through the Creative Arts.” Montclair State Univ. Web. 8 May 2011.
Schwarcz, Ben, MFT. “Drumming Therapy: Healing Through Rhythm and Sound.” Alternative Depression Therapy. Web. 8 May 2011
[* Originally published on another blog in 2011.]