“Creativity and anxiety are at odds with each other. When you are anxious you are vigilant… When you are in that vigilant state you can’t be exploratory, playful, curious, imaginative, creative, innovative, etc.” Esther Perel, Couples Therapist, from Nov. 11, 2019 episode of “Without Fail” podcast.
November has been quite a month. I came home from the road trip all inspired, and then had to tackle the bookkeeping and follow up, which depleted a bit of my inspiration. And then life started happening… A friend died. She was not a close friend, but I talked to her for a bit almost every Sunday at church and enjoyed our conversations. What really started eating at me was that she was only nine days younger than me. And it was unexpected. Just something I needed to work through… Then a family member died. Then another family member was diagnosed with cancer. And we are having our family Christmas Thanksgiving weekend. Each of these individually is a stressor, a creativity nemesis and an energy sucker. But this was a whole lot in a short period of time. And my creativity has pretty much fled. I am not saying that I can no longer create. I am just saying that that spark that is obvious in the finished product is not there. Starting a project takes self-talk and pushing myself, when usually I would be excited and energetic.
What Can I Do?
There are some things that can be done to destress and help me get back to my center and to my creativity. Here is a list of ten options I go to when I need to regain that spark due to stress or sadness. (Anger is a whole different set of items! Anger requires getting rid of energy, not restoring energy.) Hopefully you will find something in this list that will help you the next time you are in a creative slump.
- Make things that do not require much creativity. (Pot scrubbers, gift pouches, for me right now!)
- Work on a project that is already all planned out so that you don’t have to make decisions. Make something that you totally follow a pattern for, so that it doesn’t require decision making. When creativity IS flowing, I like to design and cut out projects for those times that the creativity has fled.
- String piece or make “made” fabric. I am conscious of this right now because I have been eyeing a quilt in one of Bonnie Hunter’s books. It requires hundreds of little string pieced blocks, in which the strings are all scraps of the same basic color of fabric, just with different hue and value. I know what color I want these to be and I have lots of that color in my stash. It will not require much thought or decisions.
- Give yourself down time to relax. Enjoy a beautiful sunrise. Take a walk through nature. Winter and snow? Go to a greenhouse, and just breathe in the smell of fresh dirt. Observe the smells, the colors, the sounds. While there, list things that you are thankful for. Say them out loud to your surroundings if you are alone or with a trusted friend.
- Observe wildlife. This can be done at a wildlife preserve, zoo, aquarium, seagulls at the beach, or even a pet store if you have the self-control to not purchase one. A new pet will add to the stress, not take away. 😊
- Soak in a tub with epsom salts. Consciously work through your body to relax your limbs. If you aren’t sure how to do that, tighten up a limb, and then make yourself relax it. This sounds counter intuitive, but it works! You will learn the difference between tight and relaxed, which is hard for some people.
- Bake a loaf of yeast bread. Buy some frozen bread if you are low energy or not the baking from scratch sort of creative. Smell it as it rises. Smell it baking. Savor it while it is hot. (Do not do too much of this one, as weight gain will add stress. LOL)
- Buy a soft stuffed animal and cuddle it. (Or borrow your child’s!) Sound too juvenile? Buy yourself an inexpensive really soft throw and wrap up in it and read a good book or take a nap.
- Go and observe someone else’s creativity. Go to an art museum, a concert, or an art show. These can be found for reasonable or free. There are student art exhibits on college campuses, high school or college choir or orchestra concerts are low cost or free. Many large office buildings will have interesting art in the common areas. Use your internet browser to search out free art displays in your area.
- Eat your frog daily! (If you don’t know what that means, click here!) There is nothing like completing a task that you dread doing to destress, especially if it has been on your mind for a long time. Do this first thing in the morning, and the whole day feels lighter. Figure out your frog for tomorrow before you go to bed tonight and WRITE IT DOWN!