Originally Written and Inspired by Artists During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This is a blog post that was written originally in 2020, shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic officially came to the USA and lockdowns started happening for the first time. We were entering into week four or so of the health crisis in Maryland. Many of us were feeling patience wearing thin, cabin fever growing strong, hairs on our head growing unruly, and overall uncertainty and impatience waxing. I had been meeting with clients virtually from my home office, and for the first time both watching and experiencing the emotional toll from the same stressors as my clients. In that spirit, on the Creatively blog, I composed the 3 main recommendations I was sharing to survive a crisis and support healthy creative minds in the best possible way, during the early stages of the pandemic.
Priorities when Managing a Crisis
My goal is always to support you in your own effort to manage a crisis with your existing support network in place (need a support network? Scrap this article and start there. Not sure where to start? Feel yourself approaching crisis? For a mental health emergency you can STILL CALL 911. Urgent, not emergent? A list of operating mental health urgent resources can be found here under "urgent resources".)
Three Steps for Creative Minds to Manage a Crisis
These three steps are specifically designed for Creative Minds, to help stabilize yourself during a crisis. They will not "fix" the crisis, nor are they for urgent or emergent problems (see "priorities" above). They are meant to help you roll with the powerful emotions that are a part of your creative brain, make meaning from what has suddenly interrupted your personal storyline, and readjust your expectations during a difficult time. Let's go a little more in depth to each one of these:
Step One: Integrate Strong Emotions
Remember, a creative mind is a passionate mind. It is natural for you to have strong emotions. That means you are likely to be having strong emotional reactions to strong emotional events. That is ok! Mindfulness says the most emotional pain we experience is out of the resistance of an emotional experience rather than the emotional experience itself. In other words, give yourself permission to experience your powerful emotions. Build support around yourself and talk through and express how you are feeling. Those that are emotionally doing the best in this crisis are those that are not resisting the experience. That is not to say they like or are in agreement with things, but it is to say they understand their current variables and have adapted and are integrated to working within them. It is the frequently used sailing analogy within mindfulness- know what forces you cannot change, and by accepting them as such, you now have the freedom to utilize them to get where you want to go and operate within them. This crisis is happening. Integrate. Feel. Support your feelings. Now what are your choices?
Step Two: Make Meaning with Daily Creative Practice
Your creative brain craves meaning making. In fact, one of the most important ways you will feel grounded and stay emotionally well in your life is through finding meaning in your experiences. The reverse is also true- creative people commonly fall into emotional difficulty when they struggle to find meaning in experiences. By knowing this, you can harness its power into creating positive forces in your life. For this reason, the world often looks to artists for meaning in experiences throughout history. What is happening in the world right now is historical. How will you satisfy your creative need to make meaning? Spend energy here and watch yourself transform your own experience. Oh- and by the way- if you know me or have read or followed enough of what I have said on Creatively, you know by now my other rule about your creative practice- do it EVERY day! Commit to your daily creative practice every day as your search and investment in making meaning from these experiences.
Step Three: Expect Much Less While Doing Much More
I can’t tell you how many sessions in the past few weeks have started something like this, “I feel like I should be [creatively] doing so much more...” Let me try to put your mind at ease: You are in a crisis. Coping with living through it is doing plenty. Your brain is doing lots of things that just doesn’t produce as much right now. You have to allow for this. This is the rule of crisis. Allow yourself to expect less of yourself. Understand that though it may not always feel like it (though it certainly may!) you are doing so much more, it just is likely to produce much less. That is ok. It is expected. It is not forever. You are basically running uphill. More effort and energy is required than on a flat surface and it feels way less productive and way harder. But- a downhill follows- and your body gains strength from the uphill battle. So- keep pushing- and tell yourself you are doing well! I see you over there- hanging in there, struggling, not giving up, day after day.
Every Day is its Own Day
So these are the 3 steps, Creative! Follow, rinse, repeat. Keep your wheels on the ground. Get through one day, go to bed, then get through the next one. I was recently re-inspired by a Caroline Casey quote, “You must hunger and be fully outside of something to truly know it.” Your return to former normal will be so wonderful and you will know it like you never did before. Look forward the most, to that.
Creativity Counseling During a Crisis
Creatives, if you are struggling, I understand, and I am here for you. I am offering a variety of services to try to support as many needs as one creativity counselor can- so don’t hesitate to reach out and we can talk. Here are three ways we can connect, right now:
1) Join my Artists in Residency Program. This is a Free, Online Community of Artists where you can build support, accountability and a network of Creative People as a stepping stone towards reconnecting and committing to your authentic, creative self.
2) Book a Free Consultation. All new clients to Creatively, LLC are entitled to a 15 min, free consultation to sit with me and discuss your needs, services available, and we can problem solve and hand-pick best next steps to help you succeed.
3) Book a Coaching Package. Are you a working Creative in need of specific support? I offer a range of Coaching Packages- let's get started with one that is right for you.
Strength to each of you ✨✨
(C) 2022 Creatively, LLC
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is a Creativity Coach, Creativity Counselor and Professional Artist in Sykesville, Maryland. She provides Online Creativity Counseling in Maryland and Virginia, and Online Creativity Coaching throughout the USA, Canada and the UK.
The information provided in this blog is from my own clinical experiences and training. It is intended to supplement your clinical care. Never make major life changes before consulting with your treatment team. If you are unsure of your safety or wellbeing, do not hesitate to get help immediately.