Staying Creative During the Pandemic
How can you make the pandemic fuel your creative fire? These last months have been so strange from toilet paper hoarding to job losses and food and housing insecurities for thousands of people worldwide. These are scary times; the virus is very real and it’s hard to talk to anyone who doesn’t know someone who has been personally impacted by the virus. Many have gotten sick and even died so this has been a very real and scary time. We have had to re-learn how to do lots of basic everyday things that we took for granted and stress levels are off the charts for lots of people. Time and again we have heard the same thing from those at the top, stay home, stay safe. Even though we are nearing the home stretch of the COVID-19 outbreak with the vaccines becoming available and beginning distribution we are still months away from life returning to normal. What can we do until then to keep anxiety at bay and continue our creative practice until then?
As artists and creatives, we have a distinct advantage because we have the ability to process through our work. I have always thought that is really the true gift of creativity; the ability to process through our work be it writing, visual or any of the performing arts. Looking back at pandemics past, creative thinkers like William Shakespeare and Sir Isaac Newton did some of their best work when the plague was raging and they were locked down due to quarantine at different times in history. Sometimes artists and creative minds require time and space to do their best thinking so being locked up can give the space for creative ideas to germinate, and to rethink new ways to approach ideas and to look at things from new perspectives. Changing our perspective and viewing our quarantine time almost as an “artists retreat” of sort can help us look at it in a different way. One that allows us the ability to learn new skills and dig deeply into our work, learn new processes or undertakings we may not have been able to explore otherwise.
When so much is out of our control it can be hard to stay positive and on track – so try to unplug occasionally. I like to turn my phone off and put on some music for at least a couple of hours when I am in my studio. Find an activity that you love where you can lose yourself in the process, really anything that slows down or suspends time for a bit is what you are looking for.
Make sure you are getting outside a bit, and spend a bit of time in nature even if that means a city park if you are able to. Pets and animal companions can be a comfort and stress relieving to spend time with and even if you don’t have a pet just being outside for a few minutes and listening to the birds sing and the sounds of nature, a running stream, the wind in the trees and leaves rustling on the ground can be calming. Exercise can be harder now that gyms are limiting access but you can still stretch, walk and do other activities at home or in your neighborhood so get out and move a little each day.
Creative practice can help reduce stress and anxiety caused by being isolated during the unknowns of the pandemic and the fears it can create. Creative process is akin to a meditative state and sets us up for a positive mindset. Since we are a social animal it is very hard for humans to be isolated and confined for long periods. Not everyone was ready or able to roll with the huge life shift that came along with the pandemic. The good news is that you don’t have to be Michelangelo to practice creativity; you can really take up anything you like at any level to reap the benefits. Painting, singing, dancing, journaling, cooking, gardening, an easy musical instrument, or a craft like knitting or crochet really anything that allows you to express yourself.
Do all you can to stay safe and healthy, wear a mask, wash your hands and limit your exposures. Stay connected to your friends and loved ones on facetime, zoom and through messaging and texts. With today’s technology there is no reason to be isolated from your friends and loved ones.
It has been proven that creative activities lead to a production of dopamine which give you a sense of happiness, accomplishment and an overall good feeling. Try to use some of the time we all have a little more of these days to learn new skills and think in news ways that will continue to serve you today and beyond the end of the pandemic.
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