Word has it:

Activities like painting, dancing and creativity could help in addressing society’s pleasure-seeking obsessions and boost mental health and behaviour when it comes to our overall health. As a society, we look for quick happiness hits like gambling, gadgets, drinks, food. Dopamine, a chemical messenger, neurotransmitter in the brain or also known as the pleasure hormone is released on experiencing pleasure and reward. It could be as simple as sharing something on social media. How do you get your dopamine hit?

The evidence:

Studies show how having excess of the “quick pleasure only” activities can have a negative effect on our health changing neural mechanisms underlying our choices. Drug and alcohol addictions rely on the same neural network formation. Other activities causing behavioural addictions include the smartphone, social media, gambling, the internet.

Research has revealed that taking part in worthwhile activities like the arts can stimulate our broad neural networks, potentially counteracting the detrimental effects sticking with the quick fix only.

What we could aim to do is activate the part of our brain which relates to stimuli from past pleasurable experience and value. This will not only give us the instant gratification needed but offer a sense of  long term reward, fulfilment, sense of self and meaningful payback.  (Dr Christiansen, The City University of London)

Following through:

You don’t necessarily need to be creative or arty to engage in this. Some ideas include:

  • Mindful colouring in
  • Joining a dance class
  • Cooking a new recipe
  • Painting
  • Writing
  • Composing
  1. Commit to an activity
  2. Plan it is at least once a week
  3. Embrace it fully without distraction

Thanks for reading.

Stay Well,

Leigh McKay