The Art of Creative Expression - Keeping Balance + Supporting WellnessJan 21, 2023
For many of us, finding healthy ways to express ourselves is an important part of achieving a balance between our work and personal lives. Creative expression — including painting, writing, or music — can give us a much-needed outlet to explore and express our feelings in positive ways.
As we begin another year navigating our post-pandemic lives, many people have made incredible steps on their self-discovery journeys and they want to maintain the balance they have found; without slipping into old negative patterns that no longer serve who they want to be.
I don’t know about you, but at the time of writing this (Jan 2023) I have been feeling a real pull between my ‘pre-pandemic life’ and my ‘post pandemic life’.
I see so many organizations and people WANTING or SAYING they want to keep this new normal; but I see a tug-of-war between then ‘then and the now’.
I can feel it in myself as well.
Wanting to desperately keep the balance I found while in the pandemic, but being thrown back into a world full of pre-pandemic habits.
It is times like these that adopting an intentional lifestyle is CRITICAL to learning how to balance the ‘now’ and the ‘now what?’.
On my Intentional Living Blog, I share practical tips and activities you can incorporate into your life so you can live a more present, joyful and happier life.
One of the questions I get asked most often is where do I start in my intentional living journey.
The second question I get asked all the time - is how do I STAY intentional when I am slipping into old habits, patterns and just do not feel motivated to keep it up?
And what I always remind people of is that intentional living is a lifestyle.
There is no right or wrong way to do it, and like many things in life, our commitment to it ebbs and flows.
However, in order to continue moving forward on your intentional living journey versus moving backwards towards the life you no longer want… you have to prepare yourself.
Prepare yourself with tools in your self development toolkit.
When we have practical and actionable tools that are easy to implement, it helps us break out of our old habits and continue on our journey to living with more intent.
One of these self development tools is utilizing creative expression as a form of self-therapy.
But what exactly is creative expression? And how do you do it?
In this guide you will learn how you can implement creative expression into your self-care and wellness routine.
What is Creative Expression?
Before we dive into creative expression you must first understand what “introspection’ means.
Meriam-Webster defines Introspection as “ an examination of one's own thoughts or feelings”.
Introspection allows you to gain deeper insight into your thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
Unfortunately, not many of us were taught how to properly process our emotions and do this very important work.
With the high demand for mental health supports and services, many people are turning to activities of creative expression to help them learn more about their unique processing.
Creative Expression (also known as artistic expression or creative self-expression) is essentially tapping into our unique creativity to help us process our thoughts, emotions and feeling.
Westcoast Recovery Centers defines creative expression as the ability to understand and express personal emotions outwardly to help individuals find a better outlook on their past experiences and future aspirations.
The innerwork Centre so beautifully quoted Cathy Salser; creative expression is:
“the language that lives in the heart and the spirit. It’s the language that emerges when you find the safety to really listen to your heart.”
A study posted on ResearchGate.net defined creative expression a means by which new ideas, innovative solutions, or advanced problem-solving occur.
In other-words, How I interpret Creative Expression is:
When we are able to use our minds and imaginations to get lost in the moment, listen to our heart, listen to our intuition and process whatever is going on in our hearts and minds.
That is Creative Expression.
So what then, you may be asking, are creative expression examples?
Creative Expression Examples
There are so many examples of creative expression activities.
The first that often come to mind are painting, colouring, writing, playing musical instruments, photography, drama, crafting or movement.
However there are so many subtypes of creative expression examples.
In fact, Simplicable gives over 90 creative ways for you to engage in creative expression things from metal working, nail art, journaling, Origami, interior design, gardening, dj’ing, cosplay… and the list goes on.
The thing about creative emotional expression is that you find what works for you.
When thinking and experimenting with your creative expression outlet think back to what you loved to do as a child - was there something you were able to ‘get lost’ in?
For me, crafting, self-reflective journaling and photography have all been creative expression examples in which I am able to lose myself.
When I create seaglass crafts, I can lose myself in the moment and allow myself space for introspection.
I also have always loved having a 'self-development' type of journal to write in, draw in, make collages in...
Alternatively, sometimes I need to get out into nature and take photos and just be.
There is no one right way to express your creativity.
The thing about creative expression is that you find what works for you and you implement it as a tool in your self development toolkit.
At this point in time you may have a better grasp on what is creative expression, however you may be saying:
Okay Lora fair enough, but I am not crafty, creative, musically talented or artistic or coordinated.
The thing is, to be creative is simply to be human. As a species we are all naturally creative in our own unique ways.
Creative expression is simply the ability to use our minds and imaginations to create something that not only represents ourselves, but helps us to process whatever needs processing in that moment.
For example, I have 3 older sisters.
My eldest sister is a crafter. When she needs to process things and just lose herself, she crafts.
My second eldest sister is an artist. When she is not working the grind in the corporate world she is able to zone out in her paintings and creativity.
My third sister is a Mover. She has always been athletic and when she needs to process her emotions or work through something she usually gets on her bike, goes outside, swims or does something physical.
And me, well me, I am a writer, crafter, and photographer. This is where I can channel my creative expression, tune out the outside noise and do that introspection to help me sort through whatever I need to sort through.
Do you have a way in your life to express yourself through creativity? I would love to hear. Leave a comment and let me know.
And if you need more creative expression ideas ideas check out this amazing post by Masterpiecebox
How to Discover what Creative Expression Works for You
Now that you know what creative expression is and some activities you can engage in for your overall emotional wellness, you may be wondering how do I discover my unique way to express myself when I have never really engaged in creative expression before?
Here are my 7-8 tips to help you uncover your creative expression.
Step 1: Give Yourself Permission to Play, Create, and Explore.
It’s important to foster a creative environment where you feel free to explore your own creative skills and interests. Give yourself permission to play, experiment, create something new, and try different ideas without judgment. Look for activities that take you out of your comfort zone and invite new ideas, fresh perspectives, and different types of mediums. Whether it’s painting, dancing, cinematography, writing a book, or playing an instrument – there are many forms of creative expression that offer a powerful outlet for wellness. Try something you’ve never done before and find out what kind of exploration your soul craves!
Step 2: Nurture Your Creative Space and Rediscover Joys from the Past.
Give yourself the time and space you need to nurture your creative space, however big or small. Relax and get ready to be inspired. Listen to music, write down new ideas, draw sketches of things you’d like to create. Revisit old hobbies with renewed enthusiasm and focus on skills you used to enjoy that allowed you to express yourself through creativity like pottery, painting, storytelling or photography. Don’t worry about being “good” at what you do; focus on the joy it brings to your life.
STEP 3: Set Boundaries and Make Time.
It is important to make time for yourself and set boundaries around how you balance work and your creative activities. When you create your personal schedule, make sure to keep it realistic and adaptable so that it works for you. Schedule in your creative expression time just as you would an appointment with your Doctor. That way, you are purposefully creating the time to hold space for yourself.
STEP 4: Break Habits That Block Your Creative Flow (ahem…scrolling..).
It can be difficult to break established habits, especially the ingrained ones that block out creative flow. Hello social media.. Make sure you’re carving out enough time for yourself and turning off devices or at least stepping away from screens if and when you need to. That way, your mind will be sufficiently open and free to explore all kinds of stories, ideas, and imaginative spaces which is a crucial stage for letting fantastic creations and self exploration arise!
Step 5: Allow Yourself to Experiment and Make Mistakes
Building a habit of unleashed creative expression takes practice and patience. Making mistakes or veering off in unexpected directions can be incredibly powerful learning opportunities. Don't focus on creating something perfect right away. Allow yourself to play, experiment and make mistakes- it's all part of the creative journey. Embrace glitches instead of being frustrated by them! Incorporating unexpected elements into your work can often result in new opportunities which spur further exploration. Don't be afraid to improvise as you go along either - it may just give you a sense of freedom, an escape from expectations placed on you elsewhere in life.
Step 6: Find Ways to Share Your Creativity with Others.
Ever wonder why the “paint nights” were so popular? Sharing your creative expression can add another layer of enjoyment to the process and help provide a sense of purpose. Connecting with others through your art can open up opportunities for meaningful exchange, encourage development of new skills, or aid in the improvement of existing ones. You might look into joining an art or music collective, or offering classes in whatever kind of creative activity you’re into. Or keep is simple and create a vision board with your friends.
I hope this post has helped you on your creative expression journey.
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Mental health and emotional wellness is a necessity. By learning and implementing daily strategies into our lives, we can and will learn how to better manage our collective wellness.
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