Let’s face it; life is stressful. Your job has a series of demands and deadlines. You have family obligations. You might have school work to do. And for those of us who are artists, sometimes our art can even be a source of stress. I know my writing can be that way for me. So sometimes it’s good just to step back and create something just to create. Not to sell a million books on Amazon. Not to end up in an art gallery. Not even to get a ton of likes on Instagram.
If you are a writer and you’re getting stressed, maybe try coloring. If you’re an artist and you’re getting stressed, try journaling. Or even stick with your main medium of art, but change the way in which you’re creating. Sometimes being creative isn’t about creating a brilliant work of art. Sometimes it’s just about soothing our souls. Here are seven things that any type of artist or creative person can do just for the sake of being creative.
1. Journaling – Journaling is incredibly therapeutic for anyone. I don’t care if you write every day or if you haven’t written anything since high school. Try getting a journal that is pleasant to look at, and just let yourself write stream of consciousness. Write about your thoughts, your fears, your worries, your feelings. Sometimes writing it all out can be an excellent way to combat the stresses we deal with on a daily basis. Yesterday, in Wednesday Writing Video, I talked about Julia Cameron’s morning pages exercise, which can be a helpful way to journal.
2. Sketching/drawing – You don’t have to know what you’re doing to open up a notebook and start doodling. You can draw something real like your house, your cat, or yourself or you can doodle something abstract. Sometimes just letting your hand wander with a pencil can be extremely freeing.
3. Painting – Get a canvas, get a bunch of colors you like, and just start painting. Don’t worry about what it looks like. Just paint what makes you feel better. It can be soothing just to watch paint be spread out on a canvas. Once I painted an entire canvas purple just because I like purple. And it wasn’t a great work of art or anything, but it made me feel better.
4. Photography – The cameras on smartphones have gotten amazing. We’re all walking around with the ability to take high-quality photos right from our pockets. Go for a walk, and take pictures of the trees, the birds, your neighbor’s mailbox, a slug on the sidewalk. You’ll be amazed at how much beauty you’ll see when you start looking.
5. Singing – You don’t have to have a great voice to get the benefits of singing. Sing in your shower or in your car. Blast your favorite album and sing along. Belt out “Let it Go” from Frozen or “No Scrubs” by TLC. Whichever song is going to make you feel good, that’s the one you should sing. If you’re feeling brave, you can even go to karaoke and sing in front of people. (If you start singing “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, I guarantee you will have a room full of drunken strangers singing along with you, and that’s sure to make you feel better about life.)
6. Coloring – Those adult coloring books are trendy for a reason. I love the mandala ones. You can also find a coloring book of your favorite book, movie, or TV show. I definitely have a Harry Potter coloring book. When I’m having a stressful day, coloring a picture of Dobby is a sure way for me to feel better.
7. Making a Collage – Cut out photos from a magazine or print out pictures of anything you want, grab some glue and a poster board, and make a collage. You can even make a vision board to surround yourself with positive images of things you’d like more of in your life. Or make a collage of your favorite TV show or movie.
Everyone deals with stress, especially in our modern society. It’s important to note, though, that if you’re dealing with depression or anxiety that goes beyond normal levels of stress, normal feelings of sadness, or normal worries, all of these things can be excellent tools to help you, but you should also seek the medical advice of a mental health professional. You may need to combine these sorts of tactics with medication and/or therapy.