Fostering Creativity in Times of Anxiety

When the pandemic first started, I know a lot of us, for the first time, we’re forced to confront the status of our worries, anxieties, and mental health in a way that was no like other before since we were confined to our homes. While the pandemic is still ongoing in many parts of the world, many political, environmental, racial, and socioeconomic issues are coming to light as well, creating a heightened sense of doom and gloom.The first time I went to therapy, I told my therapist about how I felt creatively strangled for months, and the reason why that we figured out was so simple: my anxiety was literally blocking any creative energy I had left.

For all of our anxious people out there, or even anyone looking for basic ways to be creative, here are some tested techniques that I’ve found does the trick.

Reading. Lots of reading.

As a writer who received as specialized education in it once upon a time, we were constantly told the same thing: you cannot be a writer if you don’t read. And, for the longest time, I rejected this idea, thinking it wasn’t true. But then I stopped writing and started reading. I read everything from science fiction to hardcore academic nonfiction, and never within the genres I wrote within. it took a while, but, eventually, I started having so many new ideas and inspiration from the world around me and from what I was reading. Suddenly, now as a twenty year old who only wrote poetry, I’ve written ten short stories in less than a month and have started a novel because I branched out and randomly found myself inspired.

Take breaks.

In society nowadays, we’re taught to constantly be hustling until the day we die. And, I hate to break it you, sometimes that just isn’t how creativity is supposed to work for many people, myself included. Learn to be comfortable with yourself not creating, because that’s a quick path to uninspired work and burnout. Take walks around the neighborhood. Cook some good, complex food that might take hours to make. Grab a book and sit at the park. Your creativity won’t go anywhere, I can promise you that.

Experiment as much as possible.

Some people love to experiment, others are a bit more shy when it comes to stepping outside of the box and trying something new. But when you step outside of this box, it might seem a bit scary, especially with the anxiety already there, but you might find something soothing and relaxing that you might use as a healthy coping mechanism. For me, this was cooking. My anxiety comes out full force when things don’t go the way I expected it to, since a big part of my personality is planning into the future. Cooking is a micro-environment in which the act of repetition, of dicing and cutting through vegetables, and then being forced to wait as something stews, which has led me to appreciate the small things that go into a larger project. I never thought I’d be into cooking, but here I am! Try something new, see how it helps soothe the soul and helps you creatively.

Go out into nature.

I’m sure we know the benefits of being out in nature already, but don’t bring a book or keep your phone away whenever it’s not needed. The only thing you should keep in your hands is a pen and journal. Find a quiet spot, close your eyes, and listen to the sounds around you. After that, just start dumping everything from your mind onto the page. I recommend a pen because with pencils you can erase your words, but a pen allows a bit more intentionality since you cannot truly erase the words you’re writing.

Above all else, remember to take care of yourself. As a creative person, it might feel like you’ve been stripped away of something key when not feeling that artistic energy thrumming in your veins. Don’t panic—one day it will be back. Until then, do what you can that nourishes your mind and soul.

One thought on “Fostering Creativity in Times of Anxiety

  1. I try to go for a walk in my local park everyday – I get my best ideas while in and amongst the trees! Great advice Ashely – thank you 🙏

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