Why your creativity should be part of your self care

© nyul - Fotolia.com

© nyul - Fotolia.com

Burn out. 

Those of us that work intensely with people, such as teachers, parents, therapists, and social workers, are often under appreciated. The work we do is on the front lines of the evolution of society: educating, socializing, peaceful communication, intervention.  It is complex work, often thankless. It is work that requires a lot of energy, and if we don't take care of ourselves, we get disillusioned and burned out.

Self Care.

The cliche of self care is a hot bath with candles or a massage. Sometimes the self care we need is physical. Healthy eating, getting exercise or body work...these are necessary and effective. It might be the only rejuvenation we need. 

But sometimes what we need goes deeper than that.  If we are disillusioned with the work we are doing, feeling ineffective or that we are not making the difference we hoped to make, then our heart leaves our work, and the shame of feeling we are not doing our best replaces it.

The Deep Work of Expressive Arts.

Creativity is healing in two different ways. One is meditative; the very act of making, no matter what is, is relaxing and distracting.  

The other way that creativity can be healing is when it is used to realign with your sense of purpose and meaning.  Using guided visualization to enter an altered, relaxed state, we can connect with our personal symbols, totems and spirits that can affirm us and the work we are doing.  Using an intermodal approach to creativity, in which you mix up writing with visual arts and add movement, music or performance, engages more of our senses and taps into our embodied wisdom.  This whole body/mind/spirit approach to creativity heals our sense of disconnect on a deeper level. 

Where to start

If you have not explored your creativity in this way, start simple and give yourself an hour or so.  Meditation music, or a guided visualization, plus paper and watercolors is all you need.  Instead of flopping in front of the TV, throw on your headphones and sit back. When the meditation is over, use the watercolors to play with color, keep it abstract. Let your mind wander.  Finish the hour with some stream-of-conscious writing. Whatever comes to mind, no spelling or grammar concerns, in your sloppiest writing, just write it out.

Then come back here and let me know how you feel.