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The creativity cure

Psychologies Editor Suzy Greaves introduces scientist Daisy Fancourt, author of Arts In Health, who documents how the arts affect wellbeing – and how you can go about forging your own cultural revolution

My teenage son always rolls his eyes when I say that creativity saved my life. But it’s true. From writing short stories to get me through the storms of my childhood to learning how to create a new script to live my life by, creativity is one of my highest values and most treasured of skills and has helped me to heal both physically and mentally from life’s slings and arrows.

But, sometimes, the idea of the healing power of creativity can sound too woo-woo for those who do not believe anything other than what has been backed up by a double-blind placebo trial. That’s why I love Daisy Fancourt’s new book, Arts In Health: Designing And Researching Interventions (Oxford University Press, £34.99), which explores the many and various studies showing that the arts do and can heal. ‘Given that there is so much evidence around the impact of culture and community engagement on psychological, social and behavioural aspects of health, as well as a wealth of data showing the cost-e.ectiveness of creativity in health programmes, it is really important that people get a sense of how this works. The use of the arts in health can sound a bit flu.y, but the reality is that the programmes being developed are much more sophisticated than many appreciate,’ says Fancourt. ‘A lot of people out there use the arts because they find them fun and enjoyable, but I don’t think they realise that, if they’re feeling low or anxious, going to a gallery or a concert, or joining a book club, are all ways in which they can support their own health. If they knew this, they might be able to make more use of the resources that are already available around the UK.’

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About Psychologies

If you're feeling depleted, out of sorts and ready for a holiday, then this issue is for you. Our 18-page dossier on how to renew your strength shares scientifically proven ways to fill up your tank and keep it full. If you’re hitting the beach but want to revolutionise the way you see yourself, turn to page 46 and learn about the new mindset to adopt to finally find peace with your body. This month, we invite you to train your brain to think differently but we also invite you to sing, dance and play. Why? Because it’s not only good for your soul, it’s good for your health. Learn how the arts can help you live a long, happy life. Here’s to a long, happy summer!