It's a no-brainer that creative activities offer therapeutic elements and promote good mental health. San Francisco State University psychologist Kevin Eschleman even says so: "There has been research that proves that this activity is good for health and well being, and has been used in different types of treatment."
But Eschleman co-authored a recent study that presents something new.
"When you do a creative activity it provides you a greater sense of self-esteem and a belief that you're going to be successful: There is a level of intrinsic motivation," Eschleman says. "These resources start to spill over into your work that allow you to become a better worker."
Eschleman and colleagues published an article in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, which reveals the discovery that those who spend their free time engaging in some type of creative activity perform 15 to 30 percent higher in the workplace than those who do not. He and his team sampled more than 340 employees from various companies throughout the U.S. as well as about 90 U.S. Air Force captains.
Creative activities could range from baking, gardening, playing music -- or video games -- any activity that makes you think with calculated or problem solving type logic. Eschleman says it is all about how you treat the activity or hobby.
The study confirms that engaging in creative activities and a better work performance are correlated. However, it's a bit like "the chicken and the egg" type of scenario: Which came first? Which causes the other?
"It could just mean that people who are better performers in the work place, may just have more energy and your performance can actually cause you to engage in that creative activity," Eschleman says. "What I believe though is the back and forth activity."
In the end, pick up a hobby! Get creative! Challenge yourself!
While the advice comes from Eschleman himself, he also says it with a cautionary note: "You really have to do it for yourself. One of the essential components to it is intrinsic motivation. Without that, I don't think you'll find that it was that effective."
And remember, this is just one step; one piece to the puzzle, but it's a piece that's fitting.