All changed, changed utterly… W.B. Yeats
We are living through the greatest crisis seen by most of us living on earth at this time. Our ancestors may have endured similar global panics but their knowledge of what was going on was more limited. Today, due to the existence of our global communications network, we are aware of the very minute details of what is happening and this is most likely the reason for the sense of panic which is gripping the world at the moment. Global panic eventually reaches the individual and, try though we will, it is hard to avoid a feeling of impending doom at times. For those who are prone to feelings of anxiety these emotions become exaggerated. Many people are currently experiencing a very low mood and it is easy to understand why. But is there something we can do to at least give us some respite from negativity and despair?
The world doesn’t care how many times you fall down, as long as it’s one fewer than the number of times you get back up - Aaron Sorkin
Many mental health experts will point to creativity as a way to lift our spirits and help absorb our minds so that we don’t constantly succumb to negative feelings. By taking part in a creative pursuit such as writing, painting, playing an instrument, gardening, pottery, photography, cookery, dancing or singing, to name just some, we have an opportunity to re-direct our thoughts and feelings for a while and this can give us a sense of enjoyment and fulfilment.
Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway to life. -Daisaku Ikeda
During the current time of ‘social distancing’ and for some, self-isolating, I think there are two main issues that we will need to deal with. One is the fear that comes with lack of social interaction, added to the fact that we will be ‘in our own heads’ for long periods of time while a health crisis is unfolding around us. The other is lack of stimulation, resulting in boredom. For both of these issues, becoming more creative or engaging in a creative pursuit might provide the solution. For myself, writing has become very therapeutic. As I write down my thoughts and fears I can process them and keep them in perspective. I will blog more regularly during this period and hope that my words will be of some help to others, but even if no-one reads my blogs they will help me. Another creative pursuit I am beginning to enjoy is cooking/baking. It is an area in which I don’t have to be perfect but in which I can experiment, try new recipes, learn new ways of doing things, create new menus and overall become more adventurous in the kitchen.
It is a well-documented fact that being creative does actually release chemicals in our brain which make us happier - by being creative we can get absorbed in the task at hand, which can keep us calm and centred instead of unsettled and anxious. Being creative is about exploration - of our surroundings, of our own thoughts and feelings, of possibilities. We can create something as a way of processing our feelings and this can bring positivity and nourishment into our lives. It can bring us back to the day, to the moment, to the now.
Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties – Erich Fromm
We can celebrate the beauty in the ordinary
and the mundane.
Creativity is what helps me escape a lot of my inner demons. – Demi Lorato
Oh the thinks you can think up if only you try. – Dr. Seuss
We all have the ability to be creative. For some of us creativity comes easier than for others but whether it is interpreting a song in our own way, re-arranging the plants in our garden or composing the next great symphony, the only barrier to creativity is not to try.
It is true that we are living through unprecedented times and none of us knows what the outcome of this world pandemic will be. All we can do is survive the best way we can, look after ourselves, look after our loved ones and mind our mental health. In the words of well-known poet Robert Frost, "The best way out is always through".