- Mental Health
Reduce Stress by Rebooting Creativity
There is a pure, essential part of yourself that knows exactly what you need to live with less stress, feel better, and lead a restful, calm, peaceful life.
It doesn't take years of soul searching to find your true self. Your essential self, your true wild nature, is a breath away, and tapping into your creativity is one way to get closer to this core self.
Your Creative Essential Self
Martha Beck, in her book Finding Your Own North Star, describes the essential self as the self you are born with; all of your personality traits, likes, dislikes, genetics and all that makes you uniquely you. When you connect with that essential self, you are instantly plugged into the power and guidance of your own life force. Giving in to creative urges is one way to make the connection to your essential self.
Why is that important? Tapping into your own unique expression of creativity connects you instantly to your ESSENTIAL SELF: the real you, as opposed to your SOCIAL SELF: who everyone else thinks you should be!
In a state of creativity, your brain releases positive feeling neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals, that work to produce great feeling states. As you increase those neurotransmitters and positive feelings you experience more relaxation, better sleep, reduced stress and increased peace.
In truth, we are ALL born creative. I used to think I somehow missed out on the creativity gene. It was puzzling watching all of my talented family paint, draw and sing, with creative souls on both sides of the family. For many years I went to work, raised my children, and had relationships, while living my life without any creative outlet. During that time I also experienced unrelenting stress, insomnia, and worry. Sound familiar?
Now my creative self is expressed in writing, sketching, and playing the guitar. These will probably never pay my bills or save the world, but doing them gives me moments of pure joy and reduced stress, enhancing my ability to function in all other areas of my life!
Find Your Stress Busting Self
Try this exercise to find your unique creativity. Find a few undisturbed minutes, relax and gently let go of your to do list. When thoughts come up, imagine putting a little cartoon bubble around them, picturing them becoming so light they float up and away.
Now gently daydream back in time to your childhood. These memories hold clues to your essential self. For now, set aside any bad memories, telling them you’ll come back at another time.
Notice specifically the memories when you are playing, or spending your time in an activity you loved. While doing this activity you probably lost track of time, you did it well or felt you did it well, or may have gotten praise or recognition for it as a child.
Write down 5 of the best memories, then write down one quality and the feeling you had while doing them. For example, if you were happy and peaceful playing in the woods, the quality is outdoors and the feeling is peacefulness. Were you excited playing with your friends? The quality is social, the feeling is excitement. Did it calm you to paint or read? The activity is solitary, the feeling is calmness. If those qualities and feelings you had aren’t abundantly present in your life right now, your essential self, who you really are deep down, will not feel happy and fulfilled. Symptoms of this are stress, anxiety, worry, overwhelm and more.
Pick one activity from your list of memories, and plan to recreate that activity in your life. It does not have to be complicated or expensive. If you liked to draw, go to the drugstore today and pick out a cheap drawing pad and pencils. If you painted, get a set of kiddy water colors. If you collected rocks, (I still do) plan to take a walk near by and watch the ground for interesting pebbles to collect.
Good feelings start in the brain with a wave of feel good neurotransmitters. If you notice any kind of good feeling with your creative activity, congratulations! You are producing chemicals that reduce stress, help you cope, keep you focused, help you rest, sleep, and more.
Being creative isn’t limited to art or music, you can shape your life creatively every day, choosing ways that lead you to personal fulfillment. Now keep doing a little creating every day!