Bust your Stress with Creativity

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. 

image of a person holding their head but their face and the area surrounding them is gray and the word stress in various sizes because no matter the size of your stress 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.”


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.

image of a pile of triangles outlined in red with the word yes or no on them representing decisions but

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.

Photo is a silhouette of a woman on a bench with a bag beside her and a bicycle parked at the end of the bench. The woman looks toward the rose colored sunset in the background.

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.” 


Photo of a pug with a red velvet blanket over its head. One way to bust your stress with creativity is to give yourself permission to smile.

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?

Image Credits

FIrst image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Second image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay 

Third image by Melk Hagelslag from Pixabay

Final image by Stacey Kennedy from Pixabay 

Are You Suffering from Stress Fatigue?

As the pandemic and political strife continue, many of you may feel that the situation is hopeless. Maybe instead of hopeless, you’re suffering from stress fatigue. Ongoing stress can do that.

the word stress scatted across the scree and covering this woman's face symbolic of stress fatigue

Life is tough, my darling, but so are you.

—Stephanie Bennett-Henry

What is Stress Fatigue?

Fatigue is a “weariness or exhaustion from labor, exertion, or stress.”

This weariness is constant and lingering. It’s so great it affects your daily life. You may feel as if you didn’t sleep. Getting up out of bed may be difficult. Normal activities and / or job performance are too much. Moreover, you feel exhausted all the time.

You don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go, and see what happens.

—Mandy Hale

Don’t Assume

Recognize your symptoms of stress and self-self treat if your symptoms are minor. But if your symptoms have increased to where they interfere with your ability to get things done, it’s time to seek help.

No blog post has enough information for you to diagnose yourself. You may have a reasonable idea, but you probably have overlooked one or two things.

Web MD points out that different illness cause fatigue including heart disease.So please, call a medical professional to discuss your symptoms. Rule out the physical illnesses while they are treatable. 

The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.

—Gloria Steinem

Quotes to Remember

painted with multiple colors, girl holding her face, pinkies on each side of her nose symbolic of stress fatigue hitting anyone regardless of skin color

Exhaustion is real. But sometimes, all you need is a reminder of how strong you are.

A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.

—Diane Mariechild

Despite the forecast, live like it’s spring.

—Lilly Pulitzer

The best protection any woman can have… is courage

—Elizabeth Cady Stanton

We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.

—Maya Angelou

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.

—Suzy Kassem

Nothing is impossible. The word itself says, ‘I’m possible!’

—Audrey Hepburn

Taking joy in living is a woman’s best cosmetic.

—Rosalind Russell

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.

—Maya Angelou

I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day, and I believe in miracles.

—Audrey Hepburn

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.

–Eleanor Roosevelt

Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.

—Ziad K. Abdelnour

Honor Yourself

women joining hands symbolic of helping each other will help relieve stress fatigue

The world is a dumpster fire. You may have Stress Fatigue, but you are strong and smart and brave. You know you. You’ll get help when you need it. What do you do that helps you remember you are enough? 

Do You Need to Get Away From It All?

Current events have you tied up in knots? Feel like you need to get away from it all? 

image is of the tangled and knotted top of a telephone pole with wires going every direction. If you feel knotted up you need to get away from it all.

You deserve a Calgon™ moment

If you’re as old as I am, you may remember the old “Calgon™, take me away” commercials on television. Calgon™ is an American brand of water softener, and bath and beauty products. The commercials started in the 80s and features—well watch and see…

Recognize Your Stress Levels

The point is, you’ve been under a bunch of stress. Unusual amounts of stress. And the stress is ongoing. Fortunately I have a few posts that may help you. But first what kind of stress are you experiencing? You may be experiencing physical, emotional, cognitive, or behavioral signs of stress. Learn to recognize your stress levels.

Make a Safe Place

No matter what level of stress you’re feeling, you need to be able to continue to function. If you feel like you’re in a safe place you can keep up with most of the things you need to do. This next post discusses how to make a safe place in your mind.

Perhaps that’s a little too woo-woo for you. You may find my post, 6 ways to Find Your Calm, more to your liking.

When You Can’t Get Away From It All

You can destress or relax with music, or by sniffing certain smells, or with distractions.

Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.

Etty Hillesum

Although this next post was about holiday stress, laughter really is the best medicine. Find the things that make you laugh.

Increase Your Resilience

One of Merriam-Webster’s definitions of resilience is “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” If you increase your resilience you will handle stress better and recover from it quicker. The best time to increase your resilience is, of course, before you get knotted up with stress. But if it’s an ongoing stress like a pandemic or racial injustices, you might want to work on ways to increase your resistance to stress.

Get Away From It All

Image of my yorkie kissing my grandson
They relieve my stress….most of the time. lol

We all need to get away from it all once in a while. It’s not a sign that you’re a bad person or that you have poor coping skills. It just means that you’ve reached a threshold. You need a break. So be good to yourself today and every take. Take a Calgon™  moment or two. Be safe out there. Wear a mask, social distance, and wash your hands.

How do you get away from it all when it feels like too much?

6 Ways to Find Your Calm in the Middle of the Storm

It’s a topsy-turvy world we’re living in right now. Even an introvert like me, used to sitting alone at the computer all day, can get caught up in the craziness. It’s essential, now more than ever, that you find your calm in the middle of the storm. Ack! How do you do that when everyone around you is losing their minds?


image of a golden retriever smiling to help you find your calm in the middle of the storm

First, smile. Fake it if you must. Look in the mirror and smile. Make faces. Be goofy. 

Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.

—Thich Nhat Hanh

There’s science behind this. And I’ve written a series of blog posts about stress and how you can manage it.

The act of smiling activates those neurotransmitters that make you feel good. It relaxes your body, slows your heart, and lowers your blood pressure. Not only that, it makes you more attractive. And it’s contagious.


You’ve got to change your life for your health and the health of everyone around you. So take this time and re-evaluate your priorities. Figure out what means the most to you. What brings you the most happiness and joy? Is it your family? Music? Reading? Writing? Creating something? 

If you’re the parent of school-aged children who now have a lot of time on your hands, help them find the things that bring them joy. Make sure each of you spends at least 15 minutes sparking your joy every day.


The reality of being home all the time means some chores of daily living have increased exponentially. Have a family meeting where you spell out what needs to be done every day. Teach your children (or spouse) how to do the laundry, how to fix their lunch, or mop the floor. Don’t expect them to do it perfectly. Whether you have children at home, or a spouse, let them help plan the day. Set ground rules such as ‘the schedule must include 4 hours of learning, 1 hour of movement, 1 hour of entertainment, 1 hour of chores and 1 hour free time.


image of basketball hoop in a driveway

Have a family exercise time. If exercise is a drag, make it fun with things like a Chinese Fire Drill. When Mom or Dad (or older children) call out “Fire Drill.” Everyone has to run laps around the house or around the yard. In bad weather you can run laps around the dining room table.

Or you can play balance games. How long can you stand on one leg? Can you walk across the room balancing a book on your head? There are plenty of sites online that can suggest more indoor and outdoor activities. Check out Today’s Parent.

Quiet Time

While it’s important to keep active physically and mentally, your quiet time is also important. Spend at least 15 minutes in mindfulness. Step away from all electronic devices. No, this isn’t nap time. Mindfulness is simply the act of noticing the moment.

Notice how it feels to breathe, to sit, to smell, to taste. If you have children, you may have to teach them how to do this. Parents.com tells you why and how to do this. 

If that sounds to woo-woo for you, take 15 minutes to connect with yourself or your spiritual beliefs. Reflect on how you feel at the moment. If it’s not how you want to feel, practice releasing that feeling and recovering the you you want to be.

Stay Connected

Man and child together finding their calm in the middle of the storm

Not to the internet. To each other. Spend time talking to each other. Reach out to others. Use text or Face Time or chat or simply telephone a friend or family member. Chat, complain, make each other laugh. Have a Google Hangout party.

Maybe you can’t be physically close, but you can stay connected.

If you, or a loved one, or a friend is overwhelmed, get help. Call the national suicide prevention line at 1-800-273-8255. They can provide resources even if you don’t feel suicidal.

Your Calm in the Middle of the Storm

It’s not always easy to be calm in the middle of the storm. And it’s not a one and done activity. Especially when loved ones inadvertently (or purposefully) bring fear and chaos to you. You can’t make others be calm. But you can find your calm in the middle of the storm. How do you find your calm in these turbulent times?

Ways Music is Good For You and Your Stress

If you follow my Facebook page or profile, you know I love to listen to and share music in almost all its forms. Turns out that music is good for you. In my continuing examination of stress, I share some science behind the ways it is good for you. And I share links to stress-relief acoustics both musical and natural sounds.

Scientific studies of stress and cortisol show that relaxing tunes may reduce stress and reduce the time you need to recover from stress. Some studies show that natural sounds (rippling water) may be even more effective than relaxing songs.

Image of a wave of musical notes and the quote, “Where words fail, music speaks.” by Hans Christian Andersen--We've always known music is good for you

Historically, musical theorists concerned themselves with the grammar and syntax of music. We simply knew a relationship between melodies and mood and well-being existed. Ways to measure and study this effect are now available to researchers. And we are only just beginning to understand that music affects every system of our body. 

In my brief review of the studies I found there is no one study that has found the answer. However, the studies show that there are many ways music is good for you.


Studies suggest that music around 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to synchronize with the beat causing alpha brainwaves. Alpha brainwaves are present when you are relaxed and conscious.

Rhythmic songs may change brain function and treat a range of neurological conditions, including attention deficit disorder and depression, according to Researchers at Stanford University.


Medical News Today reported on a study that demonstrated the effects of music in combination with blood pressure medications. 

“The heart rates of the music-listening participants dropped significantly 60 minutes after taking blood pressure medication, whereas when they did not listen to music, the heart rates did not slow down at all.

Immune System

One study showed that listening to a relaxing melody before surgery causes an increase in the body’s immunity and reduces cortisol levels. (Read about the McGill University Study here).

In 2013, a study of premature infants reported that live tunes played in the neonatal intensive care was extremely effective. “Infants experienced lower heart rates, better oxygen saturation, higher caloric intake, and increased sucking behavior.”

Psychology & Behavior

A study published in Nursing Times that music therapy reduced agitation in dementia patients. Later studies indicated that this effect increased when the patients listened to songs from their youth.

Other studies have concluded that for disabled children, music’s form and structure “encourages coordination and communication.”

Listening to relaxing melodies may relieve depression and increase self-esteem in elderly people. 

Another study shows it can reduce burnout and improve mood among nursing students.


Experiments carried out by scientists at the University of California at Irvine found that students’ test scores improved after listening to a recording of Mozart, compared with either a relaxation tape or silence. They refer to this as “The Mozart Effect.”

Stress Response & Recovery

Some studies have found that listening to relaxing music before surgery reduces the patient’s stress. 

One particular melody listed below reduced study participants’ stress by 65%.

Songs That Works Best

Music enjoyment is subjective. You may have to try several styles before you find the one that works the best for you. Here is a list to get you started:

Many thanks to Melanie Curtin at Inc.com and the Counseling Services branch of the University of Nevada (Reno) for their music selections)

The Ways Music Is Good For You

You probably didn’t need to read this to know that music is good for you. But how music affects us when we are stressed is amazing. We’ll learn more about the ways music is good for you as more researchers complete more studies.

For more information about what stress does to our bodies see my earlier blog posts, 10 Warning Signs You’re Doing Too Much and Recognize Your Stress Levels.

Do you listen to music when you’re stressed? Please share a link to one of your favorites (only one link per comment so your comment isn’t marked as spam.)