I’ve had my fair share of struggles with mental health, physical injury, and unhealthy habits. From incidents requiring surgery to mental scars requiring consultation, I have battled many a demon to be who I am today, and therefore have plenty of advice as to how you might help yourself out too!
This post is about the power of getting creative. Firstly, I would like to stress that I myself am not particularly creative. That is why I have started this blog, to find a creative outlet. Even so, my sister has sworn by the importance of letting her imagination run wild for a while now and the drawing attached was her birthday present to me! That is why I want to tell you what getting creative has done for me since I started listening to her.
Not to get too off message though, I think it is important to say that you don’t have to be good at whatever creative outlet you choose. In fact, it may even be preferable for you to not be so good at it. The struggle to get better at something you aren’t so good at is an important process to achieve a true sense of accomplishment, a feeling which can be invaluable in creating or reaffirming your sense of self-worth!
I will admit that I have somewhat cannibalised this idea from one of my favourite content creators. I frequently listen to Joe Rogan’s podcasts and, in one in which he casually converses with Dan Blizerian, Joe makes an important point about the value of struggle:
“One of the most fascinating lessons I’ve absorbed about life is that struggle is good… Do things that are difficult. It’s very important to struggle. You don’t get to know yourself without struggle. You don’t know who you are until you get tested.” Joe Rogan
Improving one’s personal abilities, and overcoming the struggle required to do so, is absolutely invaluable as an experience. As Joe Rogan points out, you really get to know yourself when you are tested under pressure and, in my opinion, there are few situations which put pressure on you more than when you place it on yourself with the intention of improving your skills. For your mental health, or at least for mine in the past, overcoming this pressure is a powerful healing tool.
Anyway, lets return back to the specific value of getting creative. There is something distinctly therapeutic about freeing your mind in this way. Right now, all the stresses associated with lockdown, from being put on furlough to having your freedom of movement restricted, can mount up really easily.
I can’t tell you that getting creative will alleviate all of your many concerns; however, for me at least, it provides some respite. Respite in the sense that, for however long I spend writing my blog each day, my mind is not focused on all of the problems that are swarming around me, and the rest of the UK, at present.
Here are some ideas for how you can let your creative juices flow:
- Get drawing!
I started this article off with a drawing by my little sister and so it feels right that I begin this list by recommending drawing to you.
Drawing is an exceptionally freeing option for your imagination. You can take on designing and executing anything that you can conjure up in your head. Many of the greatest painters who have ever lived, from Michelangelo to Van Gogh, were master drawers even before they had developed their skills with a brush. If its good enough for them, surely its good enough for you!
With that, all I’ll say is pick up a pencil and get drawing!
- Start doing some writing!
Writing comes in a whole variety of forms. Perhaps you would like to write a short story, a blog, or even a novel! There certainly are a lot of different options for your consideration.
I chose to write a blog, in part, because it gives me the opportunity to consistently complete tasks I set myself. Creating content daily, or weekly, provides me with regular achievements and an associated sense of accomplishment to go along with each.
Admittedly, I am also writing a novel, I presume of around 90 000 words by the time I finish it; however, I am finding it to be something of a slog. Each chapter requires weeks of work and, although I enjoy overcoming the consistent struggle I associate with developing my book, I find that blogging provides me with regular successes to be proud of. That is why I personally prefer it.
Whatever you plan to write, I recommend doing it as soon as possible!
- Take up a sport!
Taking up a team sport right now isn’t going to be possible. Lockdown is making it tough to do just about anything that involves contact with other people, but how about a solo sport?
I am a boxer and martial artist. I find that training alone and using online tutorials is an easy way to build up my array of skills. Shadow boxing, for most martial arts, is a very easy way to build on your skills. All you need is a decent sized mirror so that you can observe the form of strikes you throw.
Alternatively, take up something a little simpler. How about good old-fashioned running? Instead of one walk a day, get yourself off on a run and keep fit!
- How about a craft?
Sewing, knitting, papercraft, woodcraft, metal working… The list goes on forever!
Most crafts will require you to invest a little money to get started, but they are fantastic ways of immersing yourself in worthwhile activities. Creating items you can be proud of, whether it be a scarf, a necklace, or even a chair, will give you a fantastic new skill whether you intend to market your items, give them as gifts, or collect them for yourself!
Do your research and pick up the craft that’s right for you!
- Pick up a camera!
You don’t need some fancy long lens camera to take perfect pictures nowadays. A combination of your smartphone and accompanying photo editing software will do the trick! That makes it really easy to become an amateur photographer so why not take advantage of the situation?
On your one walk a day in lockdown, take the opportunity to grab your camera or phone and snap some shots that will cheer up the people you care about, and perhaps even a wider audience if you have Instagram!
This is the perfect way to get arty and capitalize upon your limited dose of freedom right now, so get snapping.
So that’s a quick rundown of a few different creative outlets you might like to explore. I can’t tell you how important creativity has been for keeping my anxiety at bay in recent times and I hope it does something similar for you!