You’re under stress and your creativity has hit the dumper. You tell yourself you must sacrifice your creativity and focus on the stress. Real-world worries haunt you. Maybe it’s the pandemic that’s your stressor. Perhaps it’s a loved one who is ill. Or it’s not knowing where you’ll get the money to pay the bills. And when the news shows you the world is on fire, stress consumes you. It is unbelievable stress for those who are trying to survive. Naturally, it stresses those in neighboring communities and countries. And it stresses many of us who live on the other side of the world. Who is so cold-hearted to turn their back on the flames that are consuming innocents? Stress is real. Stress steals creativity. So creatives, like you, feel the stress acutely. Sometimes you feel as if you can’t or won’t create again. Yet, even in the smallest corner of the world, the world needs your creativity. Always remember, you can bust your stress with creativity.
Yes, your creativity may not cure illness, stop cruelty, or quench the fires of destruction, but it can restore yourself. And if you share it, your creativity will help someone else. Maybe someone else takes aid to those in need or leads a neighborhood, a country, the world to peace.
How Stress Steals Creativity
Do you know how many decisions you make in your everyday life?
It’s estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day.”science.unctv.org
Shocking, isn’t it? You make some decisions on auto pilot. Others take more deliberation. Some you second guess over and over. All of those decisions take energy and, as the day progresses, cause decision fatigue. According to the American Medical Association decision, fatigue is a state of mental overload that can impede a person’s ability to continue making decisions.
Add on the pandemic and all the problems accompanying that. Forest fires, floods, and wars level up your stress to paralyzing.
Stress builds up cortisone, the primary stress hormone, in your system. It triggers the fight and flight response, and dampens or turns off any function that would interfere with all out fight or flight. Creative thought is one of the first to go. After all, there’s no time for creativity when you need to decide to fight or run.
Neutralize Your Stress
Never fear. Stress steals creativity, but you can fight back with—creativity. Creativity boosts serotonin, which reduces stress.
A study, published in 2016, showed that creativity reduces cortisol levels forty-five minutes before and after art making, no matter what kind of art the participant expressed. Seems like a paradox, but it’s not. It’s the yin and yang of our bodies. There are ways you can use that to reduce your stress, even when stress has blocked your ability to practice your preferred art.
10 Ways to Bust Your Stress with Creativity
1. Get creative in a different way.
Use a side hobby or second passion. Knit, crochet, garden, woodwork, play a musical instrument, paint or color by numbers. No matter which art you use, you will reduce your stress.
2. Do something that makes you happy.
You can dance, play, dress up, get your hair done, or watch baby animal or stupid pranks videos, or make art. Choose something that makes you smile or laugh.
3. Get physical.
A mere ten to fifteen minutes will do it. It doesn’t have to be a workout. Get creative. Take a walk around the house, around the block, or make art with your vacuum. Get your blood circulating.
4. Pay attention to your nutrition.
Occasional junk food is all right, but don’t neglect proper nutrition. Your brain needs protein. Choose a high protein breakfast to boost your creativity. Get high protein snacks like nuts, Greek yogurt, or hard-boiled eggs. Get more healthy protein snack ideas. Avoid those high-protein breakfast bars that are full of sugar and carbs.
5. Practice self-soothing activities.
Increase your serotonin levels with meditation, or reading, or listening to calming music, or take a hot shower. Choose something that fills you with as much calm and contentedness as possible. Avoid using junk food or even caffeine to soothe yourself. They will only make you feel worse.
6. Reframe it.
You are creative. You can reframe awful situations into opportunities for expression. That doesn’t mean rub your hands in glee or do a Nero at the suffering of others. It means use the situation to express your emotions, your support for victims, or your rejection of the situation. Need inspiration? The internet is full of knitting patterns, short stories, drawings, photographs, and songs offering solidarity and support for the Ukrainian people. Hackers have even gotten in on the act hacking Russia’s satellites.
Be vulnerable. Do your art your way.
7. Use your fatigue.
According to research by Mareike Wieth, we are more creative when we are tired. Try brainstorming session when right before bed. Spend ten to fifteen minutes brainstorming.
8. Take a mental vacation.
Review pictures of a favorite vacation or use Pinterest or travel sites on the web to “build” a dream vacation.
9. Limit your exposure to stressful situations or news.
You have a time of day when you are most creative. Protect that time. Save watching the news or other stressful activities and situations for your least creative time of day. If life or stress prevents that, it’s okay. Deal with the issues, but get back to your creative schedule as soon as possible.
10. Get a good night’s sleep.
It’s not always possible, but do your best to sleep six to eight hours each day. Follow a sleep hygiene routine. Invest in a white noise generator or ultra comfy pjs. Stop using electronics thirty to ninety minutes before bedtime. Decrease your caffeine intake. Apply your creative mind to the problem and get a better night’s sleep.
Reduce the number of decisions you have to make in a day. Follow a routine. Schedule at least two or three stress reducers into your day. Five minutes is better than none. Ten to fifteen minutes is better than that, but you can build up to fifteen minutes (or more). Play a mind game if you need. Tell yourself, ”I only have to do five minutes, then I can choose to do something else or I can do ten minutes.”
BUST YOUR STRESS WITH CREATIVITY
You are a human. You are a creative. Some level of stress will exist every day of your life. Don’t be a Nero. But use your creative gift. Bust your stress with creativity and your art will probably bust someone else’s stress. Maybe it will inspire someone to use their creativity to bust stress in a community, a state, and the world. Now go out there and create.
Which of these stress busting tips will you use this week?