Your Creative Mindset Two Years into the Pandemic

Your creative mindset two years into the pandemic may differ greatly from before the pandemic. Are you still creating? Are you more focused or less focused? Some of you may have encountered pandemic-based stressors like loss of income, concern about the health of family members or your own health, and the shortage of necessary supplies. For some of us, the stress has been more distant and less personal. There are those who are suffering from long-haulers symptoms, continued loss of income and associated losses. And there are far too many have lost loved ones either to COVID or for other reasons. No matter how distant or personal, the stress of two years of pandemic life is real. Let’s make an assessment so we can make realistic goals for the new year. How is your creative mindset after two years of pandemic?

Image represents your creative mindset two years into the pandemic shows a woman's thinking silhouette with a line drawing of her brain and three lightbulbs each with line-drawn brains and the words "what's your mid-pandemic creative mindset?"

The Creative Mindset

I believe everyone has some creativity. Those who doubt their creativity, or whose focus isn’t on their creativity, may deny they, too, have a creative mindset. There are some people who have very little creativity or choose a non-creative path. There is nothing wrong with that way of living, with that choice.

If you know you are creative, you have at least a gut-level understanding of what creative mindset means.

Having a creative mindset means you are open to opportunities and possibilities. You allow yourself to think “outside the box,” make fresh connections, and discover innovations or creations. A creative mindset can be limited if you doubt your abilities or cannot focus on creativity because of you are focused on other things, often life responsibilities. If you embrace your creative mindset, it can encompass many skills and become an attitude, a way of thinking, and a lifestyle.

The Assessment

Erman Misirlisoy Ph.D. posted There’s a Way to Actually Measure Your Creativity on Medium. The tests he’s suggests measure general creativity. They do not measure how you’ve managed through the past two years. I would like to suggest a more practical measurement. Answer the following questions. There are no right or wrong answers and you don’t have to share your answers with anyone. Be honest so you can assess yourself. 

Have you made connections (Zoom, email, Skype, etc.) with your peers through the pandemic?

How many projects have you finished during the past two years?

Did you learn anything new about your chosen creative outlet?

How many new projects have you started in the past two years?

Did you finish any projects you started in the past two years?

How many days a week did you practice or work on your creative endeavors in the past two years compared to before the pandemic?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions.

If Your Answers Disappoint

Image represents your creative mindset two years into the pandemic shows a quarter of a woman's face with overlays that say stress, delay, pressure, time mangement.

Give yourself one day to be disappointed. Then reframe your disappointment. What do I mean by reframing your disappointment? 

Cognitive reframing is a psychological technique of identifying thoughts or feelings, then changing the way you view them. 

How do you cognitively reframe something? First, record your thoughts or feelings. For example, you might say, I am so disappointed in my productivity that I state: I was too lazy and too depressed to do anything creative in the past two years. 

That’s a negative and self-destructive, creativity killing kind of thought. So let’s turn it around, reframe your thoughts. For example, you might say, my creative mind took a break so that I would have enough energy to survive these past two years. Or, my creative mind protected itself by taking longer periods to recharge, since I needed time and energy to deal with how the pandemic changed my life.

If Your Answers Satisfy You

If you are saying to yourself, I did pretty well for all that was going on. Congratulations. You have been creative and during the pandemic. Good job. I hope you are being supportive of both experiences.

If you’re saying, I did okay. Do you secretly feel as if you could have done better? You may also benefit from the reframing technique. Try reframing it something like, I was strong enough to deal with all the pandemic stressors and even though that was difficult, I was still creative.

If Your Answers Please You

Congratulations. You’ve sailed through the pandemic with your creative mindset intact. Answer a couple more questions. 

Did you use your creativity as a coping method to get through? 

Did you use your creativity to hide or ignore the stress of the past two years?

Again, there are no right or wrong answers. These questions are so you can be self-aware. You might suffer some creativity burnout or fatigue as the pandemic marches on. Or you might need to take time to face and deal with the stressors in your pandemic life. Be aware that you might need professional help. If you are telling yourself needing professional help is a sign of weakness or a person defect, reframe your thoughts. Getting professional help is a sign of self-love and a desire to survive your stressors and be your authentic, creative self.

Your Creative Mindset Going Forward

Image represents your creative mindset two years into the pandemic shows a hand with thumb up. A smiley face is drawn on the thumb and word bubbles say confidence, courage, motivation, success, creativity, and intelligence.

Unfortunately, we are still dealing with a pandemic. There will continue to be stress and shortages and adjustments we must make. Review techniques that may help you and your creative mindset going forward. Do you have a mental health toolkit? Have a plan. Reach out to a creative friend and agree to support each other every day, once a week, or on an as needed basis.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It provides 24/7, free and confidential, support and help from trained counselors.

If you or a loved one are in immediate danger of self-harm, call 911.

Your creative mindset two years into the pandemic is naturally different from it was two years ago. That’s okay. You’ve survived. No matter how much or little you’ve created in the past two years, your creativity is surviving, too. Be kind to yourself. Recognize that you are, that we all are, in survival mode.

What have you found helpful for maintaining your creative mindset during the past two years?

Image Credits

Title Image by motihada from Pixabay 

Top Image by chenspec from Pixabay 

Second Image Image by David Bruyland from Pixabay 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

35 Tips to a Healthier Writer You in 2022

It’s the holidays and your non-writing mind may be on giving gifts to others. That’s wonderful, but consider giving a writer-centric gift to yourself. Writers are often workaholics to their physical detriment. This holiday season, give yourself the gift of better health. There are 35 tips to make you a healthier writer in 2022 on the Writers in the Storm Blog. This is a sample of that post.

Image: for the blog post called 35 tips to a healthier writer you in 2022 this image Has:  sitting on the right corner of a wooden table top is a package wrapped in black paper and a teal blue ribbon. On the right are the words, Health is a gift that gives all year.

Please note that this is not medical advice. If you have symptoms of repetitive stress injuries or any chronic medical issues, consult your personal health care provider before changing your work environment or habits.

For Your Eyes

Focusing on the computer screen makes the user blink thirty to fifty percent less frequently than normal. This causes dry, red, gritty-feeling eyes, and eyestrain.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has a lot to say about how to avoid eye strain. The essentials are:

  • Keep the computer 25 inches (an arm’s length) away from your face.
  • The top of the monitor should be at eye level.
  • Reduce glare by repositioning lights or using an anti-glare filter.
  • Give your eyes a 20-20-20 break. Every twenty minutes, look twenty feet away for twenty seconds.
  • Use a desktop humidifier or artificial tears.
  • Natural lighting is best. A combination of natural and artificial light will also work.
  • Adjust the brightness of your room (or screen) so your screen is less bright than the room lights.

For Your Hands and Arms

  • Find a keyboard that allows your wrists to be in a neutral position (not flexed). 
  • Your mouse should be in easy reach of your dominant hand. Or you can use a foot controlled mouse.
  • Try to keep your arms parallel to the floor.
  • Avoid resting your arms on the edge of the keyboard, desk, or table.
  • Elbows should be at 100 to 110 degrees. This means your keyboard should be slightly higher in the back of it, so use those little feet on your keyboards.

Please read the remaining 23 tips to a Healthier Writer You in 2022 on the WITS blog.

Image Credits

Top Image by Harry Strauss from Pixabay 

Holiday Stress Stirs Your Perfect Storm

Many creators find December, the holiday season, particularly stressful. You want your holiday to be perfect. The list of things to do during the holiday season can be overwhelming and exhausting. You are on deadlines at least to get your holiday shopping or meals or decorations done. Most likely you are also on deadlines for your creative business or you’ve got holiday gifts to create. And it’s not done yet. Holiday stress stirs a perfect storm to derail your creativity.

Photograph of holiday stress caused by a storm--in this photo appears a person in winter outerwear walking through a snow storm. In near white-out conditions you can see a once shoveled sidewalk covered in snow and large pine trees lining the long snowy walk.

So Many Holidays

December many, many holidays. Woman’s Day lists more than one hundred. My December Celebrations posts discussed thirty-seven holidays.

Some holidays hold deep meaning. If that’s adding to your stress, step back. Breathe. You don’t have to make light of your holiday.

Being a creative means being flexible. If holiday stress stirs your perfect storm, take a moment. Remember that you are creative, even if you have to put aside your work for a while during this crazy month. Allow yourself to focus on the most important things and let some things go. Most importantly, destress, have a little fun so you don’t burn yourself out. Reset your mindset. Holiday relaxation can feed creativity and make you feel better too. Too stressed-out to know how to have some fun? Maybe one of these suggestions will give you an idea.

Have Fun With Krampus

Krampus is a scary creature from folklore who punishes kids who misbehave at Christmastime. But don’t be a Krampus because you’re stressed. Decrease your stress with a fun Krampus gift. This one is available on Amazon.

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image of black t shirt with Krampus image and the words "You might not believe in Krampus but Krampus believes in you!"

Relax on St. Nicholas Day 

This day is a feast day honoring the saint. Take a few minutes to relax and reset. Print out one or two of these online coloring pages and use fat crayons or markers and color. Scribble if you need to get rid of some excess emotions. Don’t worry about keeping color inside or outside the lines. Focus on making it colorful and having fun.

If you are an artist,Trick yourself into a more child-like state of mind. Use your non-dominate hand. Close your eyes and pick a crayon. Use that color on the object least likely to be that color in reality. Have fun.

St Nicholas Center.

Get Coloring Pages.

A Meditative Bohdi Day

Buddhists celebrate this day of awakening or enlightenment. Even if you aren’t a Buddhist, take ten minutes and forget about your list of to-dos. Light a candle and meditate. Or take a stroll among the trees. 

Mitten Tree Day 

Image of a colorful, hand knit mitten ready to be hung on a mitten tree. Giving to others and counting our blessings can reduce holiday stress.

This holiday didn’t make it on the December Celebrations posts. But it reminds us to count our blessings. Buy a pair of colorful mittens or two or three and hang them on a tree for anyone who needs them. If you don’t have mittens to spare, volunteer a few hours to your local soup kitchen or food and clothes pantry.

Feast of Immaculate Conception

This one can be easy. Take the day off—at least refrain from unnecessary work and feast on your favorite foods.

National Cotton Candy Day

Image of a woman at a candy cotton machine, spinning pink cotton candy onto a paper stick. Even imagining taking a bite can reduce holiday stress.

Guess what? Go get some cotton candy and dig in. Get messy. Lick your fingers. Enjoy yourself.

Your Perfect Storm

Don’t let holiday stress create your perfect storm. Don’t let it cause burn out. Take time out to enjoy a little fun, relaxation, exercise. Creativity is a gift. And your time is a gift. Be generous with your gifts, but remember to nurture them as well.

How do you relieve holiday stress?

Image Credits:

Snowy Day Photo by Gary Ellis on Unsplash

Mitten by dooneling, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cotton Candy by Joseolgon, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Feed Your Creativity

Nanowrimo is an acronym for National Novel Writing Month. Held every November, it’s a month of relentless creativity. The goal is to write 50,000 words in thirty days. Many writers embrace this group event. But it leaves out many other creatives. There needs to be a National Feed Your Creativity Month open for creatives of all types. Regardless of whether you’re involved in a month long endeavor or a catch-as-catch-can project, you need to feed your creativity to keep the ideas flowing.

Image of a glass jar of fairy lights against a dark blue background with the text "Ideas spark when your creativity is well fed."

How Can You Feed Creativity

Unexpressed creativity isn’t fun. Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s a sense that something is wrong, that you, the creator, aren’t right. Simply expressing your creativity can be one way to feed your creativity. But you can feed creativity in other ways too.

Foods to Boost Creativity

When your brain works better, so does your creativity. Follow a healthy diet. Boost your brain function with specific foods.

Image of 3  baked salmon stakes in teriyaki sauce on a long white platter ready to feed your creativity

Omega-3 fatty acids aren’t just good for your heart. Add brain power with fish such as tuna or salmon in your diet twice a week. Soybeans, nuts, flaxseed, and other seeds also are high in omega-3.

Dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao may support better learning.

Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, and mulberries are antioxidant-rich foods that also boost brain health.

Want more processing power? Eat nuts and seeds rich in vitamin E, such as sunflower seeds, almonds, and hazelnuts.

According to medicalnewstoday.com, a study in 2018 suggested that caffeine (coffee, my drink of choice!) may boost your brain’s processing capacity.

Peanuts provide vitamins and minerals that not only keep the brain healthy, but they also provide enough unsaturated fats and proteins to keep your energy level up.

Other Ways to Feed Your Creativity

A healthy lifestyle will optimize your creativity. Get enough sleep. Stay hydrated. Reduce your alcohol intake. Exercise regularly. Add a few extras and you’ll give your brain cells super powers.

Image of a coloring page with overlapping mandalas some coloring pencils, and a hand filling in triangles with orange pencil.

Take your camera with you on your walk. Take pictures like a photographer. Play a musical instrument. Draw. Color in a coloring book. Paint-by-numbers or doodle. You don’t have to be good at any of these. Using another creative muscle will get those ideas flowing.

Take five. If you’re struggling, take a break. Let go of the project for a short time. Rest or meditate.

Still uninspired? Try one of these 13 Ways to Be Creative When You Feel Unimaginative.

Now You Know

Feed your creativity and keep those ideas flowing. Good luck to all those taking part in nanowrimo and much success to all the other creatives out there. Now you know—go create.

Image Credits

Use Your Kind Voice When You Need One

Are you at the point where all you see around you is thanklessness, faultfinding, and anger? A lot of us are. Perhaps it’s time to take a deep breath and check in on ourselves. So many stressors in the world, in the news, in our daily lives, many of us have forgotten to be compassionate to ourselves. Do you use your kind voice when you need one?

Image of a stylized brown tree with curly branches. On each branch is a fruit labeled joy, generosity, patience, love, gentleness, kindness, self-control, faithfulness, peace. Across the base of the tree is the phrase This fruit is always in season. Do you use your kind voice when you need one?

Stop Black & White Thinking

Many of us look at our day, our less-than-perfect accomplishments, our didn’t get it done list, and our emotions in black and white terms. We pronounce ourselves and our accomplishments as good or bad, positive or negative, and as a success or a failure. If we experience sadness, disappointment, or other so-called negative emotions, we berate ourselves for not being more positive. Or worse, for being a bad person. We judge ourselves and find ourselves imperfect.

Don’t judge, get curious. Don’t ignore or deny your feelings. Look at the moment, at what those uncomfortable emotions you’re experiencing. Realize they are normal. Consider what those emotions are trying to tell you.

Only dead people never get stressed, never get broken hearts, never experience the disappointment that comes with failure.

Susan David

Ms David says when you stop judging yourself and your emotions, you’re fifty percent of the way to being self-compassionate. Watch this Ted Talk by psychologist Susan David.

Be Kind to Yourself

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you into something else is the greatest accomplishment.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

When you look at your flaws, find gratitude for what you do have rather than what you don’t like. Don’t think—ugh, I am tone deaf. Be grateful that you can hear the music. When you think, I am so stupid—be grateful you’re able to see, grateful that you can learn to do better.

Stop doing harmful things because that’s a way to be kind to yourself. If you over indulged, don’t judge yourself. Be clear that it wasn’t helpful or kind and you’d like to be kinder to yourself in the future.

Take care of yourself as an act of kindness.

Buy yourself flowers. Take yourself out on a date.

Indulge in a bubble bath or an hour of reading. Color in a coloring book.

Forgive yourself over and over and over. You are imperfect. You will mess up again and again. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and remind yourself that messing up is part of the human condition. Apologize to others if needed, but apologize to yourself. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. A kinder you will try again until you succeed.

LifeHack recommends that you create a brag bucket. Drop a note into the bucket each time you are kind to yourself. Add a note when you accomplish something. LifeHack also says to look at your notes at the end of the year. Yes, that would be wonderful. But look at your notes at the end of the week. See how much better you feel when you focus on using your kind voice. 

Try a Little Kindness

Loving yourself is healing the world!

Jaymie Gerard

If you need more help with finding your kind voice, try using some of the same steps discussed in 5 Steps to Your More Joyful Life. With all the stress and problems in the world and daily life, you deserve a little kindness.

Try a Little Kindness” is an older song by Glen Campbell. It’s about being kind to others. Be sure to listen for how being kind to others can also be ways to be kind to yourself.

You’re doing the best you can. If you didn’t accomplish as much as you wanted, if you weren’t as kind as you wished you’d been, you will do better from now on. You will do better when you use your kind voice when you need one.