By Faigie Kobre | TinyBuddha.com
“Making something, even imperfectly is empowering because it’s an expression of the self.” ~Alton & Carrie Barron MD
Do you ever suffer from stress or anxiety?
If so, you’ve probably tried to find relief, but finding something that works for you can be quite hard. We all react differently to different remedies, and what works for one person may not be the best remedy for you.
I used to suffer from stress and anxiety a lot. After trying lots of different remedies, I finally found relief in an activity I never considered would help.
I was locked into a life dependent on templates for everything that wasn’t basic living. Without clear instructions, clear steps, and a clear understanding of the desired end, I couldn’t get myself to start a project, journey, or activity, no matter how big or small.
At every seminar or webinar, I asked a million questions. I needed to know everything in excruciating detail. The thought of missing or misunderstanding something would send me into a panic.
Just the thought of doing anything without knowing every step in advance caused me tremendous stress and anxiety. Even in something as innocuous sounding as in creating art.
I always loved art. Art materials always made me salivate, but I never made the time for it because I didn’t know what to do with those gorgeous materials.
Years ago when I was a kindergarten teacher, I used to love watching how the kids expressed themselves creatively in their art. It brought me so much joy that I eventually became an art teacher.
This got me involved in reading any and every book on art and creativity I could find.
How I First Heard of This Unlikely Cure for Anxiety and Stress
Not until I started reading voraciously about all kinds of creative art for adults and how healing it was did I discover the connection between stress, anxiety, and using your hands to create.
If I could bottle its effects, I would make a fortune.
I read a wonderful book called Painting Your Way out of a Corner about the amazing meditative effects of different types of unplanned and improvisational art.
Then I read The Creativity Cure by Alton and Carrie Barron, both doctors who talk about how healing creative hand use is, which is the act of using your hands along with your imagination to create something new.
From those books, I learned that creative hand use that focuses on process rather than result can relieve anxiety and stress. I also learned that the creative activity couldn’t rely on following a template.
Creative hand use is supposed to help you by expressing yourself. When you follow a template, you are not expressing yourself; you are expressing the person who designed the template.
When we make something, even imperfectly, especially imperfectly, we are truly expressing ourselves, which is what helps us relieve our stress and anxiety. This is why art that focuses on the process as opposed to the product is so much better.
According to the books, creative hand use, when done right, could relieve anxiety and stress in the following ways:
You gain more self-awareness.
Painting and doing art from imagination evokes thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that block us in normal day-to-day experience. It loosens up our thinking and leads to notice how we make decisions.
Do we hide from our mistakes or try to cover them up? Can we let go and be responsive to the moment or do we need stay in control? Are we scared of making a mess, looking silly, not being good enough? All of these things come into play as we create without preconceived ideas and embrace the results.
Once you have this new awareness, you can use it to make better choices and be more effective. This will help clear up your anxieties thus making you happier and less stressed.
You become more resilient.
As you create, you might find that sometimes you try something that doesn’t work out quite as you thought it would. You learn to accept this and simply continue with the process. You continue and try to make the best of what you’ve got. After a while, you’ll notice that when things in your life don’t go as planned or when you’ve made a mistake, you can more quickly recover and move on.