During the past couple of years we’ve been invaded with stressors: worried about our health due to COVID. About working or schooling remotely. With images of violence in our communities, across our nation, and currently in the Ukraine. It sometimes seems like every way we turn, there’s a new stressor. One of the ways we can deal with the stressors is through self care creativity. And no, you don’t even have to be able to draw. (But can if you want to!)
Find your own way!
Being creative can sound intimidating because many of us think we can’t draw or paint. We just don’t have that talent! However, there are many ways of expressing yourself with a variety of creative tools. I’m going to introduce you to a few tools that you can use in your own unique way to help release your stressors.
Creative expression can be public, like when people write songs and play them on the radio, make movies, or author books. But be encouraged that you also have the capability to creatively express yourself without the fear of someone correcting your grammar or spelling. And you don’t have to showcase your art and have people critique it. Nobody will judge whether you colored in the lines or used the “right” colors. This is just for you. So I encourage you to revisit your creativity or try something that you’ve never tried before and see what happens.
One easy way to work through difficult feelings, or even to catalog your memories, is through journaling. There are many prompts and templates on Google if you type in “free journal entries.” You can find topics to get you started such as self care, all about me, travels, art journals, spiritual journals, and even junk journals. Yes that’s a thing. You can journal on your laptop, in a diary, or even in a plain old spiral notebook. Journals can be as fancy or as simple as you want. It’s yours. (But there is a lot to be said for old-fashioned handwriting journals as you move your thoughts from your mind to your hand to your paper.) Do what feels best to you. Who’s going to know?
And while you’re writing, think about writing your journey. You have a beginning. You may be in the middle of a wonderful story or in the middle of a difficult situation. What are you seeing/ hearing/smelling up close or in the distance? You can end your story the way it really happened or how you hope it will happen. Or change the ending to how you would have liked it to conclude. You may write in bubble quotes and stick figures like you’re making a comic strip. Maybe you’ll write like a newspaper journalist with just the facts. You may write in lyrical forms with or without rhyme, with repetitive phrases, or in novel form. No one will be grading your work for “correct composition” or grammar. It’s just you creating an outlet for something that is in you.
A great thing about gardening is that you must focus on the task at hand. If you don’t, you can easily destroy a plant. But it is that focus that can be instrumental in clearing your mind and therefore calming your spirit.
So where’s the creative part? You can blend plants with the color schemes that you like. Maybe you can represent your favorite athletic team. Try blending fragrances and textures of flowers and herbs. Plant things high up on a limb and down on the ground. Sow for the bees. Plant for the butterflies. Or plant things together that feed off each other and exist well together.
And remember to accessorize. Add home made chimes or water features for visual and auditory delight. Include figurines from the Dollar Tree, paint shapes, or names on your planters. Add inspiring elements from a favorite story or movie. A garden can be a sculpture that comes to life. Add Christmas lights in March. Hang Mardi Gras beads in June. Do whatever appeals to you. Enjoy your imagination. Create your sanctuary.
Collages are another creative tool that can be as simple or as complex, as realistic or symbolic as you want. The elements of your creativity are endless. You can glue onto paper, poster board, or journal pages a mix of magazine clippings and family photos with party or travel mementos. Try dried flowers or leaves. Use pieces of ribbon, stickers, and strips of paper. You can create a memory, a dream from last night, or a vision of a future goal. Or do a collage of all things pink! It really is up to you, so it only has to make sense to you.
Cooking & Baking
One last and maybe not so traditional way of self-expression is in the kitchen. If you’re upset, pounding out some bread dough or making cracker crumbs for a recipe is very therapeutic. Focus on the textures, flavors, and fragrances of the things you use in a recipe. If you miss spending time with someone who has passed away, cook or bake something you used to share together. Decorate cakes and cookies with candy, fruits, nuts, and pumpkin seeds. Use chocolate molding clay to sculpt characters or flowers. Use granola bars and Rice Krispy treats to make a castle. There are many cooking and baking challenge shows on the Food Network, Netflix, and Youtube to give you ideas. Change up recipes. Add flavors and textures that you like. The focus you have to put into cooking and baking can replace the focus you have on stressors and can be fun and satisfying during the process.
This concludes my spin on “Creativity in Self-care 101.” I hope you’ve been inspired to think of creativity a little more broadly than before. And I hope you’ve been inspired to try something new for your own personal self-care. Creativity is in you. Go get it!