Creativity and Mental Health

What are you doing to stay sane during Covid? I see masses of walkers/joggers, bikers and skateboarders out on the trail behind my home. The roads to and from the canyons in the mountains around us are busier than the freeway during rush hour. It’s always wonderful when the weather improves in the spring and we can comfortably out in nature. But this year, it felt like release from a prison.

I think many people must be finding some sanity in working in their homes and gardens. Every time we go to the local home improvement stores, the parking lots are packed. And my friends have posted some wonderful projects they have completed since the beginning of this virus. There aren’t many things more satisfying than completing a project. I’m pretty excited about some of my own projects. (A confession: sometimes I wonder if my projects are more in the nature of avoidance rather than healthy pastime). Regardless, completing any project can be very exhilarating. There is a definite shot of dopamine when I step back and see a finished work. (Below: my reupholstered chairs for the cabin)

These are effective ways to stay mentally healthy, but there is another way I want to talk about today.

Graham Greene said, “Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.” And he wasn’t in the middle of Covid 19.

Raymond Feist said, “I won’t say that writing is therapy, but for me, the act of writing is therapy. The ability to be productive is good for my mental health. It’s always better for me to be writing than vegetating on some couch.”

Their experience is supported by research.

Ashley Stahl wrote an article in Forbes on the benefits of creativity. She listed five benefits of being creative. It increases happiness, reduces dementia, improves mental health, boosts the immune system, increases intelligence. These are benefits I want, regardless of situation, but they seem especially necessary now.

So for us writers or aspiring writers, this is the time to write more. Not only do we have more time (I will feel terrible if when we are once again involved in life on a wider scale I look back and all I have done is watch Netflix and read brain candy-both enjoyable pastimes, true-but not if that’s all we do), but writing will make us more healthy, more happy, more sane.

So, what are you writing? When? Has your writing schedule changed during covid? What do you do to combat the temptation to procrastinate–when every day is the same and you know you’ll have lots of time tomorrow, how do you motivate yourself to write today?

Alice Walker said, “whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your own soul.” And Kurt Vonnegut said, “To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.”

So–Let’s paint something. Sew something. Cook something. Play music or move to music. Build something. Create. But most of all, let’s write something.

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