Health & Wellness for Creativity

What is the greatest enemy of creativity? Stress! 

Like so many writers, I only have the opportunity to write part-time. My full-time gig as a veterinarian can be physically and emotionally draining, especially those nights with heavy caseloads and high mortality rates. Barricading this kind of stress from my creative side is a real effort, and it has taken years to develop the power to affect how my mind perceives and processes stress.

When the flow of creativity is imbued with a healthy mind, you can shatter these barriers. An unhealthy mind and body limit the capacity of your brain and ability to create. Stress makes your brain go into survival mode. Think about it: when you’re “running from a bear” (a fun mnemonic my physiology professor used to use in vet school), you need to GET OUTTA THERE, not write him a novel or paint his portrait. There is no space in your brain to create when you’re trying to stay alive and function. When we are stuck behind the glass wall that stress puts up, we see where we COULD go, but we can’t get there—we are “locked out” of our creative vision.

Everything I read seems to portray the goal in reverse: Creativity is needed for health & wellness, especially mental wellness. I don’t necessarily see this as a one-way street, however. Mental and physical health are what feed creativity in your brain, thus one being mutually beneficial to the other.

Increasing blood flow to vital organs (including your brain) can not only balance hormones, even out your sleep cycle, decrease anxiety, and strengthen your immune system, it can also create a healthier outlook, decrease your chances of Alzheimer’s, and allow wider creative impulses.

So how do you get to the overflowing wellspring of creativity? It’s simple: MOVE. Move your body, move your mind.

Here are some simple ideas to get your blood pumping or de-stress, and get your creative juices flowing!

-Use a fitness tracker. I use the Fitbit Blaze and absolutely love it based on my lifestyle needs. If I am sitting too long, it prompts me to stand and take a specific minimum number of steps per hour.

-Walk regularly, jog, run, skip, or ride a bike. I can’t stress this enough: walk regularly, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day.

-Regular stretching, focusing on the back, neck, and shoulders. Staring at a screen will wreak havoc on your neck. Consider a professional massage or even acupuncture.

-Yoga, Barre, pole fitness, or aerial dance (silks, hammock, or Lyra hoop). Download the MINDBODY app HERE to explore classes and pricing near you.

-Meditation, recite mantras/affirmations for writers such as WriteNow cards which you can purchase HERE

-Photography and Videography. Train a different creative channel in your brain. You’ll see the world in a whole new way.

-Voiceover, podcasting, songwriting. Hear yourself in a new way. Record yourself reading your writing—it’ll blow your mind.

-Listen to music, play piano, learn guitar. Have a playlist blasting while writing to inspire certain moods or emotions. Pandora and Spotify are a great start. Noise-cancelling headphones are a must if you’re in public.

-Art galleries, painting, drawing, quilting, knitting, ceramics, Paint & Sip classes.

-Live performances, dinner theater, bands, acting workshops or theater groups, Shakespeare festivals in summer!

FURTHER READING: Psychology Today:“Our study supports the idea that engaging the mind may protect neurons, or the building blocks of the brain, from dying, stimulate the growth of new neurons, or may help recruit new neurons to maintain cognitive activities in old age” (American Academy of Neurology, 2015).