Now that it’s the time of year where we have a solid nine hours of daylight if we’re lucky, plenty of us are feeling a little sluggish and blue (thanks, winter). Some people deal with the blahs with coping techniques like binging on TV, taking a bath, or drinking wine—all totally valid—but there are other options out there that are proven to help perk you up. According to new research, certain everyday creative activities can have a significantly uplifting impact on your mood.
The study, published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, examined 658 adults, and had them keep a diary for 13 days. Each day, they reported how much time they spent on various activities, and how they felt—and participants felt noticeably better after more creative activity. The most common ones that picked up peoples moods: Creative writing (like poetry and short fiction); knitting and crochet; making new recipes; painting, drawing, and sketching; graphic and digital design; songwriting and musical performance.
The researchers also reported that people felt happier, more excited, and enthusiastic for a few days following the creative activity, which in turn made them likelier to want to be more creative again. “This finding suggests a particular kind of upward spiral for wellbeing and creativity,” says lead researcher Dr. Tamlin Conner, of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. “Engaging in creative behavior leads to increases in well-being the next day, and this increased well-being is likely to facilitate creative activity on the same day.”
To summarize, if you’re feeling meh post-election or daylight savings, you might want to carve out a little more time for those activities that you might already like, but not prioritize when you’re busy. If you’re already into crochet or cooking, know that they can be a salve for a bummed-out or irritable mood—it’s science.