Are you dedicating time each week toward being creative? If not, you might be missing out on an easy way to decrease your stress and increase your fulfillment.
Oh no, you might think. Not another thing to add to the to-do list! Don’t worry—doing something creative doesn’t have to take very long, and it’s more than worth it for lawyers.
But of course, you’ll want some proof. Here’s what you need to know.
Why is creativity important?
Time and again, studies show that there’s a link between creativity and stress. People who take the time to strengthen their “creative muscles” are less stressed out, healthier, and happier. And you don’t need us to remind you that lawyers are among the most stressed out professionals around.
Even those who wouldn’t describe themselves as creative have the capability to create and be positively affected by the act. For example, a study cited by Entrepreneur magazine found that participants who spent 45 minutes making whatever they wanted out of paper, markers, and other art supplies experienced a 75% decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, regardless of their artistic experience.
Plus, people who keep up their creativity also maintain the integrity of their neural networks as they age. Considering how much money you spent educating and developing that brain of yours, we’re willing to bet you’ll find the investment in creativity worth it.
What about for lawyers, specifically?
It really can’t be emphasized enough: It’s extremely important for your health and your career as a lawyer to keep your stress in check. Anything you can do that doesn’t take much time but pays big dividends, especially something like being creative, is worth it.
But the benefits of engaging in creative activities don’t begin and end with stress reduction, either. Lawyers can specifically be benefited on the job by strengthening their imaginations, which is something you absolutely do whenever you create. Think about it this way: Legal reasoning would be impossible without our imaginations, which is what allows us to compile facts to best answer questions. Anything that fine-tunes this area of your thinking will only improve your abilities as a lawyer.
How does creativity count as self-care?
Participating in a creative activity might not seem like self-care at first. We often think of more obvious things like exercise, healthful eating, and good sleep hygiene that are missing from many lawyers’ lives when we imagine what self-care looks like. However, doing something creative absolutely counts. Here are a few key reasons why:
It slows you down: As a group, lawyers tend to be fast paced and high energy. Engaging in creative behaviors slows you down and forces you to focus on smaller, more detailed tasks. It doesn’t matter whether you’re painting, writing, sculpting, or anything else.
It can connect you with others: So much of our lives are spent hunched over our laptops that it’s not uncommon for lawyers to feel socially starved. If you’re someone who recharges by spending time with others, doing some creative activities in a group setting can help, whether you’re in an improv class or a knitting circle.
It allows you to express yourself: As intellectually stimulating as the practice of law can be, it’s not exactly the best venue for self-expression. Creative activities, on the other hand, absolutely are. When we’re being creative, we’re tuning in to our likes and dislikes and creating an external representation of our innermost selves.
What are some easy ways to be creative?
Technically there are endless possibilities, but here are three ways to jump-start your creativity:
- Sign up for a class: If your schedule permits, take a class in a creative activity that you either know you already like or have always wanted to try. Painting, sculpting, creative writing, ceramics, dance, glassblowing, acting … you name it, you can take a class in it.
- Add creativity to something you already do: Do you keep a journal? Think about ways you might be able to add some elements of creativity to your entries, perhaps by writing poetry or sketching. Or if you enjoy cooking or baking, you can experiment with going off-recipe or getting into cake design. It’s easy to add some creative spark to something that’s already a part of your life.
- Spruce up your home: If you’ve been meaning to clean up or redecorate your space anyway, here’s a good excuse to get started. Try moving your furniture around, swap old photos out for new options, or invest in new artwork. What might seem like a small act can get your creative juices flowing.
You know what’s next, lawyers: Over the next month, start adding creativity to your life as a regular part of your schedule. Note how expressing yourself in this way makes you feel.