Sometimes writing just flows, and other times…
It doesn’t. Interestingly this piece has taken many different turns changing quite a bit from the beginning, and that is how the creative process works from time to time. Challenging ourselves creatively is a topic I am passionate about and want to share with others. However, to pretend that the joy of creating came to me easily without pain in recent years would be misleading.
Born with creative gifts, I took for granted what I had been given, and in adulthood I did not nurture my abilities. Through the years my focus shifted to more “practical” activities. Every now and then life has a way of proving to be oppressive, and our choices become more critical. Adding exercise, improving my eating habits, and shifting my social circle were very important steps for me to take in the last few years, but the enormous benefits gained by finding a way to channel my creativity have been amazing.
Allowing myself the time to write was essential. Much more than just setting aside time for me to do something I enjoy, I found the necessary dose of what I needed for healing. Earlier this year I was offered an opportunity to participate in art therapy. The sessions taught by a doctor and certified art therapist affirmed what I had discovered and helped me understand the process. I learned about the Hungarian Psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who developed the concept of flow. Engaging in a creative activity whether it is writing, drawing, cooking, or sewing (and the list goes on and on) promotes “flow” where we lose a sense of time, relax, and focus. Flow is rejuvenating, healthy, and curative.
Prior to learning about “flow”, I began writing this blog and stated that I believe everyone needs to create…to find some creative outlet, to create relationships, to create connections. I have discovered how important this is for a happy, healthy life. When I hear someone say they are not creative I always reply, “Yes you are!” We may not have the same talents, but you are a creative soul. We lose ourselves when we deny our ingenuity.
During this stressful season of my life, I have been taken aback with people pushing pills and actually making me feel bad for not choosing to take medication to “get through it”. Caring professionals or friends who want to help are valuable, but people placing pressure on you for their convenience can be damaging. It is difficult to not succumb to the intense pressure, especially from those who are trying to make you feel guilty or justify their own choices, but it is paramount to learn to trust ourselves. Each one of us has illness and stress in our lives, and most of us will experience something that will shake us to our core. It is important to remember we have options that are successful solutions in getting us through the tough times. Everyone is different, and for me, strength did not come in a little blue or pink pill. Focusing my life in a different direction – embracing exercise, writing, and developing new relationships – gave me the fortitude needed in this difficult stage of my life.
It is easy to see that we are living in a pharmaceutical period in history. There are illnesses and health problems that definitely require medications for healing, but not every struggle calls for a pill to make it better. There is even a term now, the drug model, used to describe the state of giving no credit to our bodies for healing on their own. Fever is a great example. Fever is a sign that your body is working to heal itself. When your fever spikes or becomes too high, then you have to do something, but reaching for that medicine bottle too soon is not good. There are times when we need to allow our bodies to do the work they were created to do.
The idea that we should use drugs to help us always feel good and avoid pain has become detrimental to living healthy lives. Our overall health includes our state of mind, and Mental Health America lists ten proven tools that can help people feel stronger. Their suggested tools listed below are awesome creative channels. You can go to their website and learn more about each at http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/ten-tools.
1. Connect with others
2. Stay positive
3. Get physically active
4. Help others
5. Get enough sleep
6. Create joy and satisfaction
7. Eat well
8. Take care of your spirit
9. Deal better with hard times
10. Get professional help if you need it
I would add an eleventh tool, “Listen to your gut.” Getting to know your body includes understanding that gut feeling. This important tool will help you surround yourself with healthy people who will support you in wise decisions. Your well-being is shaped by who you have in your life and what you do with your time.
Go create something today. Try something new…make new friends, develop a more efficient system at work, or do a little gardening. Not everyone is a painter, but we all can walk in our neighborhood starting up conversations and getting to know others. Plan a neighborhood project. Have fun. Let it flow!