Writers With Mental Illness

3 Ways To Use Creativity To Cope

Utilizing The Connection Between Creativity And Health

While adult coloring books for stress and anxiety relief have been on the rise, art therapy has actually been around for quite some time. How much of these claims are true, though? Is art therapy a bunch of mumbo jumbo? Sure, there’s definitely a connection between creativity and health. For instance, writers Sylvia Plath and Ernest Hemingway were highly creative but both victims of suicide. But can this connection between creativity and health be utilized to our benefit?

According to The U.S. National Library of Medicine, it can. A study done in 2007 showed that visual art helped cancer patients improve their focus on the positive, increased their self-worth and helped with their social identity. Likewise, a study done in 2008 showed that writing helped patients with a chronic illness express their anger and elevate their mood. Creative programs related to health are popping up everywhere, from yoga classes to art workshops in hospitals. You don’t have to take a class to benefit, though.

Here are 3 ways to utilize the connection between creativity and health from home:

1. Keep a diary of how you’re doing.

I highly recommend the Health Storylines app for this because there are different tools in the app that can remind you to take your medications, and give you “healthy doses” of inspiration. My favorite tool is the journal because it gives me options that take off the pressure when I’m not sure what to write about. I can pick from the following:

Reflection on my condition today.

Three things I am thankful for today.

Accomplishments that made me feel good today.

Insights that I have gained about myself today.

Write anything!

Much of the time, I’ll pick one of the options, such as “Insights that I have gained about myself today,” with the intention of writing one or two sentences. However, it starts the process and pretty soon I’m writing paragraphs. Keeping my creative juices flowing and keeping a record of my condition is a double-edged sword that helps me stay in recovery.

2. Create a visual representation of how you’re feeling.

My sister is a visual artist. She loves to use acrylic paint to create masterpieces on big canvases. She’s a happy person who reminds me of the sun, so most of her paintings include bright colors. Recently, she was going through a hard time and her painting style changed. Her focus switched to anxious reds and bleak grays. Without meaning to, she created a visual representation of her moods.

On the other hand, I’m a writer. When I get blocked, I stray into other forms of expressing myself. Because I’m not great at painting or drawing, I like to create multimedia art. I cut out pictures from magazines, using stickers, paint, and fabric to create an image that describes how I’m feeling. Usually, after stretching out my creative muscle, I am able to write again.

3. Express yourself through your body.

Expressing yourself through your body is one of the main ways to relieve tension, stress, and improve mood. I hold tension in my jaw and my neck. Doing yoga helps me relieve that tension and quiets my mind. While going to a class can be fun, I usually watch yoga video on Youtube and follow along from the comfort of my own home.

Another thing I love to do to loosen up tense muscles is to play a dance video game. Again, I do this in the comfort of my own home because I’m self-conscious, but singing along to “Oh No!” by Mariana and The Diamonds, while trying to nail each dance move gets me out of my head and gets my body moving. As a writer, I know very well that there’s aren’t words for everything. As an artist, my sister knows that she cannot always express what she’s feeling through a canvas. Sometimes, our bodies know what we need more than our minds do. Let your body take over and release any negative emotions. You’ll be surprised how much lighter and energized you feel when you do.

Sources: U.S. National Library of Medicine, Psychology Today


About The Author:

August Blair is the blogger behind Writers With Mental Illness. She is a freelance writer and student. She is passionate about writing and psychology. She studies at The University of North Georgia. You can find her writing online and in print. Connect with her on Instagram and Goodreads.

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