Creativity as Healing
The big thing that’s in right now is self care. We’re shifting from self love into self care, and a more practical approach to looking after ourselves. This self care movement is in response to the increased amounts of stress and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression in our modern times. Many women are feeling the burnout, managing their households, their work, and taking on much of the responsibility of child rearing. We have all heard about the emergence of adult coloring books as a way to relax. And of course, now movement, relaxation and meditation are talked about quite frequently.
I would like to offer another outlet, taking things one step further. I offer creativity as a path to greater healing and self care. I have had a fascination with forms of art including reading and writing since I was quite young. As I grew and went through life, I often found myself searching for solace in the words of my favorite authors. And for the past ten years, I’ve dabbled in many different art forms – each one more challenging than the next. Some are quite common, such as painting, writing and drawing. Other ones I’ve learnt from the ground up are fruit carving (with sharp knives!), crochet, and paper cutting, an ancient art that has been expressed in many cultures in their own way.
I stretched my imagination and the depths of my understanding of art and what I was capable of creating with my own two hands. I became a beginner, over and over. My thirst for knowledge and a good challenge has been what sustained me. That, and endless patience to work on the most time consuming and tedious tasks and art forms. Some pieces I have worked on have taken me not only hours, but days, weeks and months. In those moments of creativity, I found myself in the state of flow. I found calmness and peace. The stress, the anxiety and the emotions found an outlet in which to be expressed. For me, working on something tangible, where I saw the end result, always gave me great joy. It ties me to the past and to the future. It gives meaning to all the time that I spend engaged in my crafts. Having the opportunity to share my work with others brings me immense pleasure as well.
There is a science of using art therapy to help patients and those suffering from various ailments. This is my real life art therapy – I am the participant and the benefactor of this creativity. For me, art is a form of self expression and I use it to make sense of the world around me. I see art as the means to process what I take in from the world around me. I see it as an inhale/exhale formula. I take in sights, sounds, media, words, interactions – a host of stimuli from the outside world. And then my way of digesting all of that leads me to a form of expression so that I may give back to the world. It is my form of output. So I write, journal, crochet, I draw or paint or spend my time in creating. It is akin to meditation and learning mindfulness for me, it keeps me in the present moment and allows to have sharp focus while enjoying the process of creation.
It has been a large part of my self improvement journey. It has helped me to access parts of me that I didn’t know existed. I had no idea how much patience I had until I worked on a project from start to finish over many weeks and months. I have learnt persistence, gained confidence in my abilities in going from a complete beginner to being at an intermediate level of expertise. It has taught me focus and that I can always try things in a new way if I don’t like what I have done the first time around.
There is something really special about working with my hands. It keeps my mind engaged so that all other thoughts can cease and quiet down. I believe that art gives us something outside of ourselves to take meaning in. We can feel emotions and be moved by an art piece. And the best part about art and creativity is that unlike dishes and laundry, they stay done. No one is coming to undo the work I have done, or add more work to my plate!
I find the whole process, from design or conception, through to completion to be very healing. I love working with colors and different mediums. Of course, there are many ways in which to be creative. My personal experience has been with artistic pursuits. Some of my favorites are painting, drawing, papercutting, crocheting, cross-stitching, and fruit carving, among others. But even things like problem solving, or having a brainstorming session or building a block tower can put you in touch with your creative self and keep your mind occupied for some time. Stealing 10 or even 15 minutes out of your day can give you a little mental break and a chance to re-energize.
In the creative process, we discover parts of ourselves. We realize that our thoughts and emotions are valid. We make space for that which is in us to find a means of expression and to become something we can see, hear, feel or touch. We harness our energy and create something that didn’t exist before. Finding yourself in the zone or in the flow or in another frame of mind can create space between your daily life and that moment in time. It is when we can find small moments of escape that we can balance our inner and outer selves. Besides, being creative can be tons of fun, with various fabrics, mediums, patterns and tools. Your studio or your art corner can really liven up your space or home.
I would encourage all readers to consider how you can be creative in your own world, whether that is starting something new or diving deep into an old passion from your childhood. You can build your skills, develop patience and consistency, and the discipline to see a project through from start to finish. And along the way, you can find peace and healing through your creations.
Chandrika is a self help junkie on a never ending quest for self improvement. When she's not reading or writing, you can find her immersed in artistic pursuits. Visit her @rika_life on Instagram to see her latest food and art adventures.