Managing creative anxiety
Are you finding yourself not creating as often as you would like? Do you find yourself avoiding the art studio or your laptop altogether? Procrastinating much? Do you have a tough time deciding which creative project to start? Finding it difficult to complete a creative project? Resisting marketing your creativity project or product?
If you find yourself with one or more of these symptons, you may be have creative anxiety. According to author and creativity coach, Dr. Eric Maisel, creative anxietiy is "this kind of anxiety regularly stops creative people in their tracks and makes their experience of creating more painful than pleasurable. It stops would-be creative people entirely, preventing them from realizing their dreams. Anxiety is the number one problem that creative people face, and yet few know about it." Couple this with the uncertainty of a nearly two year old pandemic, socioeconomic crisis and social unrest, our ability to create at all can be at stake.
Just about every creative gets some form of creative anxiety at some point in their life. The trick is to find a way to deal with it when it rears it's ugly head so you don't become or stay immobile as a result. Creative anxiety is designed to keep you from being productive creatively....or the spend circles in fear, procrastination, "research" for your project or just not attempting anything at all.
So what can you do to deal with creative anxiety? Here's a few ideas:
1. Adopt mindful habits to deal with your creative anxiety: Mindfulness activities such as meditation, yoga nidra, and other similar activities can help immensely. If you are embarking on a creative endeavor, consider getting into the habit of doing a guided meditation focusing on creativity that will help relax your mind and focus on the task at hand. If time is a factor, a series of deep breathing exercises (breathing in from the nose and out from the mouth) can help as well.
2. High vibe sounds: Consider having a playlist of favorite songs or music that inspires your creative impulses readiy when you begin to work on your creative project. I find certain music like low-fi hip hop or jazz helpful when I am writing. I like classic rock when I am creating. Some people like classical or acoustic sounds. Find what suits you and have it available when you create or write.
3. Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy, which is also known as essential oil therapy is defined as a "holistic healing treatment that uses essential oils to improve the health of body, mind and spirit." Essential oils are made using natural plant extracts by steaming or pressing different parts of a plant and then capturing the compound which produces the fragrance. Aromatherapy has many benefits including helping reduce stress and anxiety. By placing a few drops in aromatherapy diffuser, on your skin (check to see if the oil is safe to do so or needs a "carrier" oil), or in the bath, the fragrance can help with creative anxiety before working on a project. Some oils to consider include wild orange, lemon, tangerine, lavendar, peppermint, sandalwood, jasmine, bergamont, chaomile, and ylang ylang.
4. Perfectionism: As creatives we all want our work to be a near perfect as possible. Quality control is imperative. However, an obession with perfection can put us in a hamster wheel that can force us to never finish a project or get stuck because it's not "good enough". Find a way to relax and write an affirmation that you can see that addresses that doing the best you can is enough or that all your efforts are enough. Work with that affirmation to help overcome the anxiety that if things are not perfect it will never be ready to be completed or sent to the world.
Creative anxiety can get the best of us but also can be overcome. How do you deal with your creative anxiety? What would you add to this list?