Health, Life

How To Ease Anxiety – Creativity & Mental Health

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I’ve been searching the universe for ways to make my anxiety a little more bearable. When you feel that familiar feeling, you know the one I mean – when the anxiety first starts to rear its ugly head. It kind of feels like a Jacuzzi is bubbling inside my chest. And I’m like ohhh crap, here it comes.

This is the perfect time to nip it in the bud. I find when you get a wave of anxiety, there’s a set time frame of when it’s possible to set your mind straight again. If I don’t do something beneficial once I know the anxiety is there, I’ll start to spiral.

So I’ve starting building a library of coping mechanisms. Mental distractions if you will. These are things that help me refocus my mind. From yoga and walking to writing my thoughts down and reading books – I’ve got a whole loada anxiety busting weapons.

The trouble is I’m often stubborn and for some reason, reluctant to help myself – so I neglect to use these oh so handy coping strategies. But if you really want to feel better or at least be able to sit with your anxiety and nurture it like, you have to take action.

Often doing simple things can help you get through a panic attack, and you come out the other side feeling sooo much better. Or, doing things that help you relax and take your mind off the stress and worry that plagues you can prevent you panicking in the first place.

Don’t get anxious, get creative

I was chatting to my therapist a while back and she suggested I try painting. I was like, woaahh I’ve got zero artistic ability. My drawings look like they’ve been done by a 5 year old. But duhhhh Kiri, that’s not the point. It doesn’t matter if you’re awful, it’s about getting your feelings down in creative form.

Ken Bromley Art Supplies conducted a survey to reveal Britain’s favourite stress-relieving activities. And surprisingly, art and craft scored very low showing the lack of public awareness towards art and craft as a stress-relieving activity. The top ten activities in case you’re wondering are:

  1. Walking
  2. Music
  3. Having a bath
  4. Reading
  5. Watching TV
  6. Gardening
  7. Sport/fitness
  8. Nature
  9. Medication
  10. Yoga

My go-to creative tool is obviously writing. But unfortunately, I write for my job, pretty much all day every day. So at the end of my working day the last thing I want to do is write more. I need another outlet.

Art for anxiety

Start drawing or painting something and you’ll be surprised the path it leads you onto. Relish in how it feels to hold a paint brush and nonchalantly whip your hand from side to side. Cast your eyes upon your creation without judgment.

Far too many people miss out on the wonders of painting and drawing because they think they’re no good. Well, we all know art is subjective right? One person might think a painting is the bees knees, and all another person might see is utter bollocks. Plus, no one’s going to see your wonderful creations, because the beauty of them is that they’re just for you. They’re a part of your healing journey.

And if you don’t own any painting materials, don’t let it stop you. You can order most things nowadays at the click of a button. Get your paint supplies online and you could be the next Picasso in training in no time.

Poetry for peace of mind

Another potentially helpful and uber zen activity I’ve been told is beneficial is writing poetry. It’s a completely different style of writing to what I’m used to, so for me it’s different enough from my day job to offer me a therapeutic release.

Don’t even think about what you’re going to write. Literally just write whatever comes into your mind and try to turn it into something poetic. Sometimes our pain comes out in strange ways, and we’re surprised by what we come up with. Writing your feelings down in the form of a poem just might bring you some clarity.

Often when I write advice on my blog, it’s aimed at my audience, but it’s also for me. And yes folks, I’m guilty of ignoring my own advice. What silly bean I am. I don’t put my money where my mouth is. So I’m going to try it now.

At the weekend I’m going to set myself the easy challenge of getting a blank piece of paper, and drawing whatever doodles I fancy. I’ll let you know how I get on. Oh, and on the poetry front. I’m going to give this a go right now.

Interestingly, I don’t think I’ve written a poem for over a decade. I wrote one to read at my dad’s funeral. I remember it was the only way I could express my pain and put everything into words. Says a lot about how helpful poetry can be. 

Here goes….

Welcome to the edge of the world

The cold sea air blows across the surface of the silky sand.

Birds fly overhead,

seemingly unaware of nature’s force.

Like a feather caught in the breeze,

their freedom knows no bounds.

 

Silly humans trapped in a cage,

reaching through the translucent bars.

These bars don’t exist in the real world,

they’re painted into reality by our minds.

Pure fiction.

 

A neverending imaginary barrier,

to hold us back from our destiny.

Don’t wander along the beachy shores,

Unless you’re willing to sink into the ocean.

 

Don’t build a sand castle in the dunes,

unless you’re strong enough to watch it crumble.

For the edge of the earth is a funny place.

It slides and it jitters,

ready to swallow you up.

Are you ready for the reckoning???

 

See, there I did it. Don’t ask me what any of it means. I just typed what came to mind. And hey presto, I’ve created a poem.

Go on, try it yourself.

P.S This post was inspired by my artist sister, who recently wrote an article about how art has helped her through some tough mental struggles. Read her article here, and check out her awesome artwork here.