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The Importance of Creativity

Following on from my post this morning...of stillness and calm, I was reminded of finding my creativity again.

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Most of you know my love of Brene Brown - if you haven't heard of her, look her up, but one thing she talks about is the importance of making time for stillness, calm, but most importantly, creativity.

** Reading through a tiny buddha blog this morning, I was inspired with their comments on the importance of creativity - hence why the Vision Board workshops work so well and so many different levels.

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“The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.” ~Neil Gaiman

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Doing videos for U Fit and documenting my journey with weight loss, or Bipolar, or just general life "stuff" in the past few years was the start of publicly, and explicitly, speaking about these particular aspects of my journey. But the desire to acknowledge and address the emotional effects of my experience had been present for some time.

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Prior to doing all those things above, I hadn’t felt ready to lay myself bare in such a direct way. However, I instinctively knew that I needed a means of self-expression that would allow me to speak of what I’d been through without being quite so specific.

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That’s where creativity came in and where my life of art, drawing, painting and photography returned.

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In actual act - a little children's book "soon to be released" (I feel like I have been saying that FOREVER) was created from the are corners of my brain - and "Little Beam Adventures" were born!

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I began using art and photography as a way of expressing everything I was still too vulnerable to verbalise. It was a beautiful revelation for me to realise that I could share my thoughts and feelings in an abstract way. I could pour my pain into the creation of something new. This was a crucial step in my recovery.

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In the past, I used everything from Emotional Eating to excruciating negative-self talk as a way to avoid my feelings. From so many aspects of my life, I was carrying a tremendous amount of guilt inside me, constantly feeling as though I’d failed my family and friends by not being able to make my relationships work, stick to a job, handle what life had to throw at me. I hated myself for walking away from the various opportunities life had given me, from walking away from my marriages, and for daring to want more in terms of health and happiness (I should add here - not just for me - but for those I was walking away from).

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I was also dealing with intense pressure at work and financial stress, all of which had left me feeling as though everything was out of control.

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Weirdly, depression and suicidal thoughts had given me the illusion of control, but it was also a way of punishing myself for not being able to stay in a job or relationship that everyone else expected me to be content with.

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Mental health issues are often accompanied by feelings of shame and guilt. We tell ourselves that we should be able to handle everything, that we shouldn’t be placing a burden on our loved ones. It’s a self-destructive cycle that has the potential to send us spiralling.

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Although creativity doesn’t act as a magic wand, it does give us an opportunity to take a breath and gain a greater understanding of what’s going on internally. We can use creativity as a means of translating ourselves to ourselves.

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Art and photography became a lifeline for me. I could capture texture and shadow, play around with light and motion. I could convey some of the darkness that was still haunting me, but instead of succumbing to my feelings, I was able to build something from them.

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I also began to use poetry and creative writing as tools to help me channel my emotions. The personal value of this was enormous. In creativity, I had a friend, a means of telling my own story in my own way, and a source of strength and support that I could rely upon to be there for me.

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Here’s how a creative hobby can help us cope with mental health issues:

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1. Creativity reminds us that we have the ability to effect change, and it also helps us be more present.

When we are experiencing mental health challenges it can be easy to fixate on the fear that there won’t be any light at the end of the tunnel.

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Immersing ourselves in creativity can help us believe in our ability to heal, grow, and change because we are actively participating in the production of something new.

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Whether it’s baking, gardening, painting, dancing, sculpting or any other creative pursuit, we are taking an idea and breathing life into it.

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This not only helps to keep our focus on the present moment, thus alleviating future fears, but it also gives us the added benefit of shaping and impacting an outcome through our efforts.

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Whenever I’m revisited by old demons that threaten to topple me, I create something. Anything. The act of creating helps me to re-centre and focus on my abilities, rather than obsess about my perceived shortcomings. It also helps me step outside myself, shift my perspective on my challenges, and remember what’s truly important.

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2. Creativity enables us to process some of what we’re feeling, without the intensity of putting ourselves under a microscope, and it can also help us meet our needs.

We’re not always ready to closely examine every experience. We’re not always comfortable talking things through or wading into the depths of our pain or trauma. But we need to work through these feelings, or else they’ll lie beneath the surface, limiting and controlling us.

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Creativity can offer us a safe space in which we’re able to release some of our emotional weight without over-analysing. We eliminate the scrutiny but still receive the benefit of self-connection.

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When we’re able to connect with what we’re really feeling—whether it’s anger or regret or disappointment—and then channel that into a creative project, we are less likely to engage in behaviours that are numbing or harmful. Which means we actually work through the feelings instead of just distracting ourselves from them.

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Creativity can also be a compass. It’s a way of identifying an inner need and then permitting ourselves to meet that need.

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And just as creating something from nothing can help us believe in our ability to create change in other areas of our lives, meeting some of our needs through creativity can empower us to meet other needs—the need for self-care or boundaries for example.

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When we’re struggling with mental health issues, it’s easy to minimise or neglect our needs, but this only prolongs our healing. Creativity helps us trust our intuition and follow our instincts. It isn’t necessarily a substitute for therapy, but it can play a pivotal role in helping us build confidence and resilience, enabling us to both works through how we’re feeling and take good care of ourselves.

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We are all creative beings. Experimenting with different creative ways can be a wonderful way to find out what sparks joy and brings comfort - from dancing to singing, to art, to yoga!

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You don’t have to be an expert. Remember, perfection is not the goal; you’re simply making your world a little brighter.

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How can you bring more creativity into your life? I am excited to see your comments below!


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