Feel Better By Letting Your Artistic Side Shine

Ekingwrites

If you've been neglecting your creative self, now might be a good time to give it a little attention.

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joyImage by Author via Canva

Come with me on a trip back in time.

It's Christmas morning, the relatives have gone.

Mom and Dad are clearing up the dishes and wrapping paper, and you're finally alone.

It's just you and a mountain of brand new toys, but there's only one thing you really want.

You pulled it from your stocking early this morning, and you haven't been able to stop thinking about it.

The wait's been excruciating, but the time has come at last.

You sit down to a blank page and stare at the unopened box in front of you.

You push back the lid, and your senses come alive!

The sound of cardboard and there they are; row upon immaculate row, of flat-topped spires—a mini multicolored cathedral.

Calling out to you, fresh and full of potential, they fill your nostrils with the smell of waxy goodness.

This is living!

You spend the first few minutes taking it all in, carefully surveying the colors, making sure to pick the perfect one...

You gently run your hands over them, the wax between your fingers releasing wave after wave of dopamine.

There are so many to choose from - this is the big pack. You know, the one with the sharpener in the back.

It's almost too much, but you wait. It has to be just the right one.

And then it's time.

Time to go deep inside your head, lose yourself in the process, and touch the deepest part of your soul.

Wax on paper, colorful curls, by-products of your passion and vision.

To create with abandon. Without expectations. Making art for art's sake - lost forever in one moment.

Pure bliss.

This is the creative process.

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But is creativity merely childish indulgence?

What about when we get older?

It falls to the wayside as we grow up and things get real.

But a creative outlet can be just the ticket for getting out of a funk when life gets hard.

It's therapeutic, freeing, and just plain fun.

There are many ways to express your creativity. They all have merit and are proven promoters of well-being.

So if you've been neglecting your creative side, it might be time to pay a little attention to your inner child.

If you need to get your happiness back on track, rebooting your creative side might be just what you need.

But don't worry if you don't know where to start.

The great thing about being a grown-up is you're the boss of yourself, so you can just try a bunch of stuff until something feels right.

Here are a few ideas to get you going:

Writing/Creative Writing/Journalling

Writing is my personal favorite home therapy. I'm always writing, and no matter what, it always helps me get clear about life.

When it's just you and the paper (or computer), you can say whatever you want. It's not for anyone but you.

You can get it all off your chest.

Then, you can rip up the paper or delete the document if you want.

You can burn it in a ceremonial fire.

You can have a good cry, tell off that person who hurt you, say whatever you want about anything, and nobody has to ever know.

Sometimes memory plus a good cry can be like releasing steam from a pressure cooker.

If you like to make notes or keep track of things, journaling could be helpful for you.

Journaling can help with:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Tracking your triggers
  • Tracking negative behaviors

But if journaling seems like too much of a commitment, you could try Automatic or Freewriting.

It's easy to get started because it literally takes no preparation.

You just sit down and write with no plan and no expectation.

You'll probably be surprised with what you come up with.

Some people believe you can channel your soul or tap into your psychic abilities with this technique.

I'm not sure if that's true, but it can free your mind and connect you with your subconscious.

Just write words on the page without judgment or expectation and allow whatever presents itself to come out.

By letting it come out completely unfettered, the words might form random thoughts as if by magic or work themselves into a picture.

I used to make visual artwork with thousands of tiny words I'd write on a page. I'd form them into massive symbolic images.

It was meticulous, but it helped me process my thoughts and feelings, and I found it highly satisfying.

Letting go of intention can be an excellent way to connect with what's really going on inside.

Music: Listening or Playing

Music has so many physiological and psychological benefits. We feel them instinctively when we listen to our favorite songs.

Sad songs help us process sadness, happy songs make us happier, songs about strength help us feel hopeful. Music is something most people can connect with emotionally.

Sitting with your feelings always seems easier when there's a soundtrack.

Music can help you remember the past and open the door to healing.

Singing or playing an instrument can deepen the connection even more.

Singing which is both calming and energizing, can actually change your brain.

This is why people love Karaoke.

And you don't even have to be a good singer to reap the rewards.

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Dancing

Dancing is a primal part of the human experience, something that brings us together.

It's been a universal part of the human experience for millennia and is part of our collective DNA.

Our bodies and brains have evolved to dance in synchronized unison.

It's been proven to change the way we think and interact with one another.

If the music moves you, try doing some interpretive dancing, letting your body flow with the feelings it gets from the music.

If you feel inhibited, find a place where you can be alone and just move.

Dancing can be a sacred, personal activity you do only for yourself.

Finger Painting

Finger painting is so satisfying to toddlers because it stimulates a bunch of different brain centers.

But it's not just for children.

Finger painting has been found to have benefits for adults as well.

Visually pleasing colors combine with the tactile, satisfying feel of the paint to create the perfect storm of senses working together to unleash your subconscious.

This is called being in a flow state.

And you don't even have to be an actual painter to create beautiful art this way.

So if you have a canvas and some paint, this is a multi-sensory way to connect with yourself.

Working With Clay

Claywork has been found to have unexpected therapeutic qualities.

These include releasing aggression, being a form of meditation, and creating a sense of community connection when done with a group.

This ancient art form has even been found to be effective for dealing with depression.

Giving yourself to the process and following your hands can be a great way to unplug your internal chatter and get some mental calm.

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So if you decide you want to get creative, there are some ideas to help you get started.

If you do, you'll be in good company.

Many professional artists have used their artwork as a means to heal themselves emotionally.

These people aren't household names, but I encourage you to look into their stories for a deeper dive into the creative path towards healing.

They'll give you hope and inspiration:

  • Melissa Milton
  • Kasey Jones
  • Ya-Wen Yang
  • Linda O'Neill
  • Vincent Castaldi
  • Kim Thoman
  • Tara Moorman

If you're suffering from anger issues or existential dread (and who isn't these days, am I right?), here are some more high-profile artists known to have fuelled their art with angst:

  • Auguste Rodin
  • Frida Kahlo
  • Sophie Calle
  • Felix Gonzalez-Torres
  • Francis Bacon
  • Lee Krasner
  • Beethoven

So if you're feeling angsty, an artful outlet might be just what you need.

Being creative can help you dig down and start healing or at least give you an outlet to blow off some steam.

Taking time out to soothe yourself with creativity can unplug you from your troubles and reconnect you to your calming inner creative source.

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All the colorsImage by Author via Canva

Bonus testimonial:

Daily writing has been my way to heal from the trauma bonding I developed as a child.

Solving other people's problems has always been a personal obsession of mine.

But fixating on other people's business isn't healthy for anyone, so one day, I decided that instead of forcing my opinions on people, I'd write them down.

Over the last year-and-a-half, every time I start ruminating about something, I write it down. Even if it's just a few words to stop the swirling mass culminating in my head.

And that one simple commitment has changed me.

By acknowledging my compulsive thoughts and giving them a healthy outlet, I've calmed right down.

Here is a shortlist of what daily writing has done for me:

  • I've stopped stewing and ruminating.
  • I've stopped bugging the people around me with unsolicited advice
  • I've stopped feeling like I have to save the world
  • I fall asleep easier
  • I don't wake up in the middle of the night with panic attacks anymore
  • I've written hundreds of articles and two books
  • I've started a lucrative side-hustle with my writing

So writing down my thoughts has been invaluable in many ways.

But you don't have to have a big picture in mind when you start a therapeutic artistic process.

I certainly didn't.

However, if you love doing something and it gives you relief, you might just end up getting good enough at it to roll it into a side hustle or even a full-time job.

Getting creative can up your happiness in so many ways.

From healing past wounds to expressing your inner child, getting back to those creative outlets, we took for granted as children can make us much happier adults.

As with any self-help suggestion, this isn't meant to replace professional help or treatment. You should always seek out a doctor or mental health professional for serious mental illness or severe emotional distress. If you are in crisis, please call a helpline.

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Musician, writer, toddler wrangler. Author of "How To Be Wise AF" guided journal available on Amazon as well as "The Automatic Parent" due out in Feb. 2022.

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