Creativity & Well-being

CREATIVITY – the ability to create new concepts by using  our imagination,  to bring into existence or creating process of bringing about something new. 

Number of studies has shown that creativity is associated with personality traits: autonomy, openness to experience, and extraversion. The two latter are positive predictors of creativity, meaning that the higher openness to experience and extraversion, the higher the creativity [1]. Creativity is also associated with higher well-being [2].

The study by Csikszentmihaly showed that many creative people had followed circuitous (having a circular or winding course, indirect, longer than the most direct way) paths to their ‘careers’ [3].

Book by O’Mara “In praise of walking: The new science of how we walk and why it’s good for us” holds that walking influence creativity. [4].

Creativity & Nature

In addition, there exists influence of environments on creativity. Just viewing natural environments stimulates curiosity and fosters flexibility and imagination, natural spaces distract our minds from work and allow for attention restoration. [5]

Practicing Shinrin Yoku seems to be one of the choices if we wish to helped our creativity – although strictly speaking there is study integrating both. Having said that,  amongst Shinrin Yoku Guides, inviting participants to expressing themselves through creating nature art and poems is a well-established practice. 

If you wish to become a Shinrin Yoku Guide, have a look at this training that offer two pathways: 20-week Online and Blended Shinrin Yoku Training in Japan (15-week Online + 5-day in Japan). 

Creative Writing

Creative writing is any writing that goes outside the bounds of normal professional forms of literature.  In her work, “Foundations of Creativity”, Mary Lee Marksberry references Paul Witty and Lou LaBrant’s “Teaching the People’s Language to define creative writing”, she writes:

Creative Writing is a composition of any type of writing at any time primarily in the service of such needs as:

(1) the need for keeping records of significant experience,

(2) the need for sharing experience with an interested group, and

(3) the need for free individual expression which contributes to mental and physical health [6]

Creativity & Mental Health

There is evidence that creative/expressive writing forms an important part of the recovery experience for people with mental illness [7]. However, there is evidence indicating that expressive writing works better in some contexts than others. For instance, for individuals who are unable to express emotions expressive writing may be contraindicated [8]; however, some other studies found that this is not the case, i.e., that expressive writing is effective for those who have difficulty identifying or expressing emotions [9].

From my experience, there is on key factor to healing through expressive writing – we must feel ready. And feeling ready means that we feel physically and mentally safe to disclose –  either to ourselves or to others – in writing suffering we carry within.

My Expressive Writing

I have started to write not with an idea of wanting to become a poet or writer – I started because I was traumatised by many events in my life, including sexual violence. How many times I attempted to write something, anything – nothing worked, until I realised that I have to write for myself not for others. Both are scary though… the fear of judgment and self-judgment plays a huge role in slowing down or shutting down a process of breaking through. When you feel your body and mind cannot any longer stand what happened to you – this the moment. Sit down and write. Do not worry about the grammar or structure – just write, corrections will come later or maybe not. It does not matter. You have finally found a way to put IT out of your head and body. Moving physically your body will aid the process especially when the emotions are so strong that you feel you cannot sit still – just stand up and allow your body to do what it needs to do. 

I did not actually realise that I have a book in me. 


I carry a notebook and a pen with me wherever  I go. Your phone can also be handy. 

At times I wake up in the middle of the night and thoughts appear. I write them down.

Make it easy for yourself by not putting too much pressure on yourself. If you write 5 words – that is ok, if 2 – that is also fine.

I keep a word file open all the time, so when during watching a movie, listening to music, or exercising, I quickly type my thoughts.

Maybe there is a song that makes you remember good or bad things – write down what mind brings to you.

I must say that most of my writing is initiated  or written in the forest. This is where I open up. This is my safe space. Shinrin Yoku is my way of feeling inside and expressing outside.

Expressive Writing Online

Expressive Writing in Nature

Expressive Writing Toolkit

[1] Li, W., Li, X., Huang, L., Kong, X., Yang, W., Wei, D., Li, J., Cheng, H., Zhang, Q., Qiu, J., & Liu, J. (2015). Brain structure links trait creativity to openness to experience. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 10(2), 191–198. https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsu041

[2] Tan, C. Y., Chuah, C. Q., Lee, S. T., & Tan, C. S. (2021). Being Creative Makes You Happier: The Positive Effect of Creativity on Subjective Well-Being. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(14), 7244. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18147244

[3] Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity. New York: Harper Collins. You can read about it HERE.

[4] O’Mara, S. (2019). In praise of walking: The new science of how we walk and why it’s good for us. Penguin Books.

[5] Yeh, C. W., Hung, S. H., & Chang, C. Y. (2022). The influence of natural environments on creativity. Frontiers in psychiatry, 13, 895213. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2022.895213

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_writing

[7] Niles, A. N., Haltom, K. E., Mulvenna, C. M., Lieberman, M. D., & Stanton, A. L. (2014). Randomized controlled trial of expressive writing for psychological and physical health: the moderating role of emotional expressivity. Anxiety, stress, and coping, 27(1), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1080/10615806.2013.802308

[8] Lumley M. A. (2004). Alexithymia, emotional disclosure, and health: a program of research. Journal of personality, 72(6), 1271–1300. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.2004.00297.x

[9] Páez, D., Velasco, C., & González, J. L. (1999). Expressive writing and the role of alexythimia as a dispositional deficit in self-disclosure and psychological health. Journal of personality and social psychology, 77(3), 630–641. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-3514.77.3.630

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