The turning of the New Year is historically a time for reflection, evaluation, and initiating beginnings. Ring out the old and ring in the new. For many, this is a time of increased energy and creativity, of experimentation, and thinking and acting outwardly.
For others, however, this can be a time of anticlimax and inertia. The Holidays are over and it’s back to our regularly scheduled programming. Artist’s block, creative funk, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), depression, and what feels like laziness can easily set in this time of year. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the days are shorter and light is at a premium. We want to hibernate like bears, curl up in our lairs with a cup of tea and a good book and wake up in the spring.
Thoughts and ideas come to us at an overweight snail's pace, if they occur to us at all. Better yet, let me curl into my snail shell and call it a day (week, month). We all have felt one or more of these feelings of wanting to move inward instead of outward at some point in our lives and creative careers. These states of inactivity can be extremely painful and disheartening. Many people believe that the condition is permanent and that they will never create again or feel that sense of creative ease and enlightenment.
However, I am happy to report that these working blocks are part of the creative process and somewhat necessary in our artistic development. Sometimes we are active, sometimes inactive, sometimes outward, sometimes inward. In Chinese philosophy and medicine, there is no Yang (light) without Yin (dark). As N.C. Wyeth used to describe during his own creative inertia, “I have to refill my well.” Just like N.C. found ways of replenishing his creative juices, you too can add some creative spring to your winter step. Here are my 5 favorite tips for moving out of the beautiful blahs:
1. STOP trying so hard!!! If you don’t want to create then don’t. It’s that simple. Nothing will initiate a block or feed an existing one than convincing yourself that you have to create or beating yourself up when you don’t. Put the brush, pencil, engraving tool, needle and thread, whatever you use to make stuff with down and step away from the studio. Take a break, and give yourself an even bigger one.
2. Try another creative outlet. Ask a friend if they might show you some tips using their medium. Take that pottery class, creative writing course, or volunteer at your local theater group. Go dancing or take up an instrument. Watch the entire Oscar nominated movie list. Nothing can perk up and nurture your inner Da Vinci than exploring another medium, one you know nothing about. Who knows, this new venture might lead you down a path you never dreamed you’d take.
3. Get active!!! Go for a walk. Better yet, find a walking buddy. Use that gym membership. Help someone with household chores… or do your own!! Volunteer to help a local farmer. Get your body moving and your heart pumping. Endorphins rock!...and they help improve your mood and creative drive. Turn off the computer, the TV, and the phone. Tune out technology and tap into your mind, body, and soul.
4. Eat healthy!! These chilly winter days are the perfect excuse to concoct something hot and healthy in the kitchen. For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, take advantage of your locally sourced summertime veggies. Eat local, fresh, and well. As with exercise, nothing feeds the mind, body, soul, and creative spirit than a healthy diet. Cooking is an art. The color palette in the kitchen is an ample source of inspiration. Share recipes with friends and family and invite them over to cook and sample your gastronomical portfolio.
5. Remove emotional blocks and toxins in the mind and body. My personal experience with removing toxins in the body involves many forms of bodywork including massage, myofacial release, Reiki, mediation, and acupuncture. If you are open to these practices I suggest trying them all to find out what works best for you. If you are skeptical, I suggest sitting quietly for at least 15 minutes a day and focus on your breathing. Let thoughts come and go and, without judgment, come back to your breath. This practice will calm your mind and allow thoughts and emotions to gently come to the surface. Journal what comes to mind without judgment. Pay attention to how you feel around certain the people in your life. If you feel anxious or drained around certain friends or family members, it may be time to edit them from your day-to-day activities. Address stress at work. Talk therapy is a wonderful resource for managing the difficult challenges we have in our lives. Any and all of these body and mind toxins will create creative blocks. Awareness is the first step toward recovering authenticity and flow.