Albert Einstein loved to play the violin when he wasn’t working on scientific equations. Even though it was a hobby, it fed his “day job.”
“The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition,” Einstein told the musical educator Shinichi Suzuki. ” My parents had me study the violin from the time I was six. My new discovery is the result of musical perception.”
A new study out of San Francisco State University shows that pursuing creative activities outside of work can help you be more perceptive on the job and help you recover from stress. In addition, these pursuits help improve your work performance.
“It can be rare in research to find that what we do in our personal time is related to our behaviors in the workplace, and not just how we feel,” said Kevin Eschleman, an assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University.
Study participants defined creative activities however they wanted.
“They usually describe it as lush, as a deep experience that provides a lot of things for them,” Eschleman said. “But they also talk about this idea of self-expression and an opportunity to really discover something about themselves, and that isn’t always captured with the current recovery experience models.”
In two surveys (one with 341 employees and one with 92 active duty U.S. Air Force captains), creative activity played a positive role in recovery experiences and performance-related outcomes. Because of these findings, Eschleman suggests that employers encourage employees to pursue creative outlets.
“One of the main concerns is that you don’t want to have someone feel like their organization is controlling them, especially when it comes to creative activities, because intrinsic motivation is part of that unique experience that comes with creative activity,” he said.
Some ways an employer can help employees pursue creative activities outside of work include, the study’s authors suggest, art classes, creative writing opportunities, and access to musical instruments.
“A lot of organizations carve time out where they talk about physical heath and exercise and eating habits, but they can also include in that a discussion of mental health and the importance of recovery and creative activity,” Eschleman said.
How do you encourage creative activities outside of work for your employees? Please share you tips with us.