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Feed your creativity

Amy Okamoto

The new year is a time for self-reflection and making adjustments. For many, the ultimate goal is a better quality of life. Health resolutions often top the list of ways to achieve this.

A resolution to feed your creativity should also be on your list. While exercise and healthy eating will improve your physical health, your overall well-being can improve through involvement with the arts.

Art, music, theatre, literature — whether you’re actively creating or participating — involvement with the arts provides measurable benefits. Increased academic performance and memory-enhancement are two notable ways that the arts can affect you.

But creativity can affect all aspects of our lives, including our ability to problem-solve. Creativity helps us approach problems from different angles rather than from a linear perspective. This flexibility in thinking makes us more adaptable and able to handle uncertainty.

Many employers seek thinkers with the ability to think on their feet. The arts can help you achieve this. More importantly, creativity has been linked to longer lifespans. A study published in the Journal of Aging and Health found that creativity decreases the risk of mortality, in part because it uses a variety of neural networks within the brain, helping to keep our brains healthier even into old age.

Socially, art and music bridges gaps and allows us to connect with others, even those from very different backgrounds from our own. On a more personal level, art increases our self-awareness. We live in a fast-paced society and are inundated with programming. Taking the time to create art gives us an opportunity to be mindful. Art allows us to express our emotions and ideas. The creation process itself can be therapeutic and helps reduce stress.

But how do you make the arts a larger part of your life? Start with what you enjoy. If music or theatre makes you happy, consider attending more performances, both locally and out-of-town. Learn an instrument. Go dancing. Get involved with community theatre.

If creating visual art sounds appealing, consider taking a class to try something new and inspire yourself. Start an art journal. Explore photography. Try an adult coloring book. Throw out those notions of what is and what isn’t art — the point is to express yourself. Curb the self-criticism.

There are plenty of opportunities to experience art, music and theatre in the Norfolk area. The Norfolk Community Theatre puts on performances throughout most of the year. Musicians can be found playing at local venues. Community-wide events such as ‘Fork Fest bring in musicians from around Nebraska.

First Friday at the Norfolk Arts Center offers open-mic and open-art opportunities to the public. Visual art classes can be taken at Northeast Community College and the Norfolk Arts Center, which also offers a free monthly art experience during Second Saturday. The Norfolk Public Library holds group events from adult coloring to book clubs. Whatever your fancy, you are likely to find an event nearby. The arts are alive and well in northeast Nebraska. Resolve to get involved and feed your creativity.

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