How to Relieve Your Anxiety with Creativity
Updated: Jul 21, 2020
Anxiety is one of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced… and I’ve experienced a lot of it.
My chronic anxiety began as a preteen. I still remember the very first panic attacks I had back in those days. One night, when I was about 13, I remember laying in my bed, completely consumed by this feeling of the deepest dread I had ever felt. I didn’t know what to do---I felt frozen. Like I was the only person left in the cold, lonely universe.
Out of desperation, to give a job to my restless mind, I closed my eyes and pretended I was riding my favorite roller coaster, recalling every twist and turn, over and over, until I fell asleep.
These terrifying feelings continued to come the rest of my life as worries about actual things, like upcoming performances and social events - and as just general anxiety that, for the life of me, I couldn’t pinpoint what the source was, other than just being alive.
Nobody really ever talked to me about anxiety and how to manage it until I was much older, so I spent years thinking that the end of the world was, in fact, coming at any time.
Eventually I learned more about it, and how to express how I was feeling, and how common it was. Today, thankfully, it’s a topic that’s way more talked about. All of this means our society is headed in the right direction with this too-common experience.
And you know what? I STILL suffer from terrible anxiety. EVEN THOUGH I know what's going on and I have pills to take when I need them and I meditate and I love my life. Gahhh.
If you know the struggle I’m talking about, my friend - if you feel a constant twinge in the back of your mind at the daily insanity that is being a conscious alive human here on Earth -you are NOT alone. I’m right there with you.
But I also can tell you with absolute certainty that it's possible to find relief from the constant anxiety you've suffered from. In FACT, I believe finding your peace isn't just possible, it’s your natural state, and it's time to return to it. And the more you practice with tools that you find work for you, the less time you'll spend in Anxiety World USA.
Here’s the good news, my dear: it’s not a complex process to begin to get out of the constant anxiety groove and get some momentum going. We are going to engage your playful, creative mind muscles so you can tell your survival brain “Hey man, it’s all good, everything is ok!”
But the catch is: it takes TIME to change mental habits. Here are 4 exercises I’ve come up with over the years that still help me to this day when I feel like my world is closing in & I need to get the heck out of my head. If you put in the effort to practice these steps day by day, they will eventually become as natural to you as that swell of anxiety used to be.
So use them with abandon and have fun with it! Just remember big changes happen step by step, babe.
Are you ready to say goodbye to being stuck in a rut?! Join my free email challenge here:
4 Steps to Relieve Anxiety With Creativity
1. Here's your new mantra: Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.
Ok, my anxious friend. I’m willing to bet your soul feels heavy a lot of the time. That you are exhausted from carrying the weight of life on your shoulders. Believe me when I say I feel you.
But let’s get this straight. That weight we sensitive souls feel is completely conjured up by our brains, and by what society has reinforced in us our whole lives. It is not reality, it is just a perception of reality.
Therefore, your anxiety is not actually a real thing, existing out in the universe on its own. It is also not naturally attached to any other thing, like that presentation that’s due on Monday or the fight you had with your friend last week. The presentation is just the presentation, and the fight is just the fight.
Our minds attach anxiety and fear to ideas without our permission right under our noses because we haven’t stepped up to the plate enough and showed the mind who’s the boss.
This is how I need you to look at things. Recognize that anxiety is simply a reaction to something coming into your perception. That’s it. Every time you feel it, if you can remember that, you take away some of its power just like that.
You are the creator of your reality, and that literally means you CHOOSE your reaction to what happens. How freakin’ cool and empowering is that?! If you want to start right now, check out this guided meditation I made for creatively quelling anxiety.
2. Turn life into a game, and obstacles into challenges.
Now, we use your creative force to do some work on your world view to prepare for composing your outer world accordingly.
So for example, say you’ve been having this subtle cringing feeling in the back of your mind for a while about your financial status right now--you feel like you need to be making way more money, and you’re scared to leave your job, and you don’t want to disappoint your parents or your people, and you don’t know how to find a higher paying job, and on and on.
There’s been a lot of anxiety blanketing this issue for you. Trust me, I’ve been there. And we both know that the anxiety doesn’t actually help the situation at all… all it’s doing is making you feel terrible. But how the heck do you move on from this paralyzed state?
Well, we start to engage your playful, creative mind to turn this issue on its head. You guys, don’t worry. We ALL have done this before, back before we were boring grownups.
We are revving up our rusty dusty imaginations, baby.
Ready… and… SWITCH to game mode.
Tadaaa! Suddenly this whole financial stability thing isn’t that idea you can’t even TOUCH without having a panic attack. Thinking about it doesn’t feel like a death sentence anymore.
NOW, in the Game of Life, this is the most fantastic challenge that’s about to make your life ten times more interesting. In fact, from now on, this is gonna be freakin’ FUN. Psych yourself up about how you’re going to change your financial situation, and this will allow you to loosen up and begin planning steps from there!
Extra bonus points: every time you catastrophize (“sure Caroline, that’s nice until EVERYTHING GOES WRONG AND I CAN’T PAY MY BILLS and have to move back in with my parents and feel like a big fat failure?!”) meet it with the same mindset. If you are creative enough, you cannot fail. Each situation that doesn’t go the way you want can be a portal to another level of the game that you never would’ve unlocked otherwise.
I've got The Cure for Your Creative Rut right here, baby!
3. Calm your mind by making something, then discover delight again.
I heard somewhere recently that you can’t be scared and curious at the same time. Curiosity and creativity come from the same side of the brain.
It’s mind-blowing to think about how humans are this crazy dichotomy of animalistic, fear-based, survival-mode brain mixed with this unending curiosity and compulsion to make new things that don’t necessarily serve a purpose for survival.... you know what I mean?
Anxiety comes when the survival-mode brain is running the show.
So when you know that this fear-based side is behind the wheel, it’s time to do something that enables you to come back home to the other side… to a state of peace, and curiosity, and playfulness.
Try doing something that has absolutely NO stakes. That you’re not going to let anyone else see, because it’s just for yourself right at that moment. In a new environment that will stimulate your senses. Go to a coffee shop, or an environment that has art, or a place that is equal parts inspiring and relaxing.
Bring a pad of paper. People watch and then write a little silly short story. Draw something poorly, and laugh at your drawing and how it’s turning out, and then fall in love with it a little.
Get a kick out of whatever you’re making. This is imperative for it to work. Do NOT take what you’re doing seriously. Then remember if this moment can be this light, why can’t your whole life be lighter than you’re making it?
4. Have stubborn faith in yourself and your place here.
Life isn’t easy, and no one ever promised us it would be. Terribly hard and unexplainable things happen to all of us, and we all question our existence at some point or another.
But you must have faith in your creative self, and in your DNA. You come from an incredible species that KNOWS how to adapt, how to survive. Your ancestors (literally tens of thousands of people) succeeded by pushing through insanely difficult challenges, both mental and physical, and by coming up with creative solutions to survive and improve their quality of life.
The proof? YOU ARE HERE.
You have all of them, all of us, backing your existence up. When that mean, scared voice in your head tries to drown out the wisdom you know in your bones and work you up, be forgiving to it, but be STUBBORN in keeping it at bay.
You know that everything is going to be ok. Everything, in fact, IS okay. Just breathe and keep on going, my friend. You got this.
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Do any of these do the trick for you, dear wild thing? Do you have any out-of-the-ordinary tricks you use to deal with anxiety? Share in the comments!
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