“What’s all this pain done to your creative life” is a question that I have often asked people with persistent pain. This question prompts some weird looks, but most people seem to understand, and for them their ability to be creative has often changed significantly or been lost – there is no time for being creative, and dealing with the pain has sucked up all their energy. I am sure that many are really thinking … “why do you want to know about creativity – I’m in serious trouble here, I have to focus on getting better!”
Creativity and health
Creativity and its pursuit is at the core of the arts world, but creativity has also led to the greatest achievements in science and technology. Creativity is also sought after and highly valued by employers in many diverse fields. However, creativity is not necessarily recognised as a key skill in health – but creativity and its inherent divergent thinking* allows flexibility, enhanced coping abilities and inventiveness in clinical practice. The divergence opens up other outputs such as awareness, easy introspection and excitement. We talk a lot at NOI about brain outputs such as the cognitive, motor, endocrine and immune system outputs, but perhaps creative performance could be considered the ultimate whole human output – a varying blend of cognitive, emotional, chemical, motor, neuroimmune, memory, and sensory contributions. Creativity must be a core skill to better cope with whatever life brings.
Creativity and knitting
I have been reading Betsan Corkhill’s Knit for Health and Wellness (and what a nice surprise to meet my old mate Lorimer Moseley there in the foreword – he didn’t tell me he was into knitting). I have to say I was bit hesitant approaching Betsan’s book, but I found it to be a great translation of modern creativity neuroscience into public life using a traditional and well known medium. I suspect Betsan was mocked early on but I am delighted to hear that she has been invited to give lectures on therapeutic knitting at the Science Museum in London. You can read more about Betsan, her group and her book at stitchlinks.com. Betsan has clearly thought long and deeply about knitting and has teased out many of the outputs and inputs of knitting relating to patterns of movement, the associated enriched environment and the possibility for social engagement. We have stitched a few together below:
DIMs and SIMs and therapeutic knitting
For me, therapeutic knitting sits so well with the notions of DIMs, SIMs and the Protectometer. The SIMs just tumble out of every page of Betsan’s book – there’s so much safety to be found in the things you do, places you go and people in your life when you’re knitting. There are also many examples of converting DIMs into SIMs and you can pick these up in her survey of over 3,500 knitters – here is just one quote “Knitting enables free flowing and restorative thought. If ever I am stressed or low I reach for my needles and am soon fully uplifted. Knitting enables me to channel my emotions into the garment I am creating and helps turn negative emotions into positive ones”
Knitting as Betsan presents it (a very useful activity to get you out of the chair and into life) is surely a metaphor for any other creative outlets – cooking, music, pottery, fishing, singing, dancing, painting, writing… divergent thinking will lead to even more.
Creativity as output – fresh starts from the arts
With our current headspace at NOI based on the neuroimmunological links to learning, coping and creativity, and reading books such as Betsan’s, it seems so clear that the place and potential of creativity in health has been greatly underestimated. Creativity has a biological basis and, as perhaps the ultimate whole-person output, can powerfully unleash beneficial bioplastic change.
And boys – start knitting – what a way to get noticed by the girls!
Thoughts on the place of creativity in rehabilitation welcomed in the comments below.
*Divergent thinking is a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions.
Get your creativity on with The Explain Pain Handbook: Protectometer …
… and some Graded Motor Imagery