I said this for years. Even though I took art classes I believed I sucked. Yet I yearned for a creative outlet, to cultivate my creativity as Brene Brown says. But it only caused me pain. Painting, photography, pottery, I sucked at all of it. Or so I believed.
Turns out I didn’t suck, I was simply suffering from the disease of comparison. You know the disease where anything you make isn’t as good as everyone else.
It wasn’t until I stopped comparing myself to everyone else that making art became a joy, release and stress reducer. When I stopped comparing myself, I was able to tap into a creative well I didn’t even know I had.
I eventually landed on pottery; a medium that pulled at my creative core for years. By 2013 (8 years after stepping into a pottery studio), when someone asked me what I did I answered, “I’m a potter.” And I was. Sure there were people more technically proficient but it no longer mattered. I went for it and thrived. You can see my work here.
When making pottery I was the happiest and most relaxed I’d ever been. That’s why I advocate pursuing a creative outlet for stress relief. In this article, I will explore how a creative outlet is good for you, the various ways you can cultivate your creativity, and how to find the time.
The Time Conversation
If you’re like me finding the time to be creative can be a challenge. Since starting the Ignite Well Being Institute in 2011, I have forgone art for my vision of “changing the American workplace.” I was busy.
I was having the proverbial time conversation I discuss here.
Shortly after I realized time was a conversation, I had an aha about how much art kept me grounded, happy and stress-free. It took me a while, but I finally committed to carving out time. Recently, I dove back into my artsy, craftsy side and have found my stress level plummet. You can see the fruits of my creative labor here and here. A day covered in paint or mud is more relaxing than any spa day I’ve ever spent.
Deeper Connection Grounds You
In her book “The Gifts Of Imperfections”, Brene Brown discusses the role creativity plays in creating a whole-hearted life. We so often talk about work-life balance. Yet so much of the feeling of imbalance comes from the fact that even in our living we are working. We rely heavily on our left-brain to get us through work and life. Abandoning our right brain, then leaves us feeling imbalanced and empty.
The key to cultivating creativity so that you feel whole, perfect, and complete is to NOT compare your creative pursuit to others. The whole point of creative projects is there is no right or better. Creativity is subjective. So let go, have fun and relax. No one even has to see your creativity.
Brene Brown provides three suggestions for feeding your creative side.
1. Get Deliberate. We are all busy so it’s easy to believe you don’t have time for art. Yet the reality is you do have the time. In fact, the simple act of creating gives you time. It clears your mind so you work more effectively.
The answer to your time constraints is get deliberate. Schedule time each week where you will do something creative. Be vigilant about keeping your appointment with yourself.
2. Get Inspired. Whether writers or artist block, sitting down at a blank paper or canvas with no ideas can be stressful. I encourage you to keep your inspiration tank full. Being a visual person, I find Pinterest a great way to spark my creativity and easier than getting to a museum. When I’m waiting in line at the grocery store, you’ll usually see me on my phone scrolling through Pineterest boards searching for inspiration. It’s also helpful to have a dedicated space for your pursuit where you can post images, ideas or other things to ignite your creative juices.
3. Get Going. Just do it. Sit down and write. Paint. Plant. Shoot. Whatever it is that takes you out of your brain and lowers your cortisol, do it. Create a creative habit. Nothing substitutes for taking action. This is your life we are talking about.
Ideas To Get You Started
Cook a gourmet meal
Create an art journal
Plant a garden
Paint anything – canvas, wood, a wall, a box, let your imagination run wild
Try cooking a cuisine you’ve never cooked before.
Make a collage
Take an art class
Create an altar
Create a mosaic
Make a vision board
Paint a stencil on a wall
Buy and arrange flowers
Make a wall of inspiration
For more ideas and inspiration, check out Igniting Creativity.
How do you use creativity to reduce stress? Let us know in the comments below.