I have discovered that some of the best medicine for pain relief is creativity! There are so many benefits to engaging in Creative Therapy. For me, the number one benefit is: distraction. My mind becomes immersed in the activity at hand and before I know it I am no longer focused solely on my pain. It’s like the physical pain has transferred from my body to the page. This technique is also extremely helpful in combating emotional and mental pain. It can help one express the deep, painful feelings that can overwhelm without an outlet for release. It can help one move towards healing. Creative Therapy can help reduce stress, anxiety and tension. I also find this approach deeply meditative; it can lead me into almost a trance state where my calm spirit is separated from my hurting body. The pain becomes a distant entity. It allows me to literally take a break from my pain.
And the best thing is that you can do Creativity Therapy on your own or with a group, for no or little money, and at any time in almost any place (don’t know if I’d try it in the elevator, but you never know!). If you are more comfortable learning techniques from someone else, there are certified Art Therapists and many cities offer Creative Wellness Centers with classes and open sessions. Another option is to find a group of like-minded people on Meetup.com or to look into classes available at local churches, community centers or adult-ed classes at local high schools.
But, I want to take a time to explore all the options for doing Creative Therapy in your home. Don’t get stuck up by saying, “but, I’m not an artist!” This isn’t about creating “sellable art,” this is about free expression through creative outlets. There is something for everyone and no one ever has to see your creation if you don’t want them to! Here are some ideas to get you started…
- Coloring Books!!… I find these extremely soothing. My favorite are Mandala coloring books from Dover (found for <$5 on Amazon, etc.). Mandalas have been used for centuries as meditation tools. After mine are colored, I keep them to stare into when I am feeling stressed or in pain (sample above).
- Collaging… rip up pictures in old magazines and glue them onto a larger sheet of craft paper. I love to collage “vision boards” ofthings I hope to achieve in my future, of things that make me happy (sunsets, babies, waterfalls) or of placesI’d like to visit. You can make “word boards,” random collages, or collages that form a larger picture (like my “Sacred Place” ex.)
- Knitting or crocheting… there are even weaving circles (at craft stores) for beginners that create a finished scarf!
- Cross-Stitch or Latch Hook… with so many ready-made designs to choose from.
Cooking or Baking… yes, this is a creative activity, too! Make something just for the heck of it. I find this option very Zen; I spend thoughtful, purposeful time creating a visually appealing dish only to have it devoured soon after. Talk about a lesson on impermanence!
- Gardening… create a pretty combo pot for your deck, porch or sunny window.
- “Scratch-Off Books”… you can find these at the craft store; there are images hidden beneath black that you scratch away with the provided tool to uncover scenes beneath.
- Zen-Tangles!… an awesome, new take on doodling. Look for books online or in the library to get you started. Once you pick up a few different patterns, all you need is a sharpie and a notepad to create interesting, engaging, repetitive pieces anywhere.
- Card Making… make cards with any of the techniques above and then spend a little time writing a personal note to a friend, loved one, or even yourself!
- Photography… a great way to get you out in nature and become mindful about your surroundings.
- Simple Beading… string a pattern of beads on elastic or “memory wire” to create a meditation mala/bracelet (say a mantra for each bead as you “travel” around your wrist).
- FiMo… PlayDough for adults! Roll and shape into abstract or formed designs and then bake them.
- Decoupage… buy a cheapy cardboard trinket box at the craft store and use ModPodge to paste on collage pictures. Coat with an extra layer of ModPodge to seal.
- Origami… I love trying to reach my life long goal of a “1000 Cranes for Peace”
PHEW!!!! Now pick just one and indulge your creative self today! Then let me know how it felt and if you have any other ideas to share!
Here’s another blogger’s take on Creativity and Emotional Expression : http://myfibrotasticlife.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/the-importance-of-outlets-to-express-emotions/