At the end of a long day of work, whether it’s running after rambunctious kids or chasing down a deadline in the office, sitting in front of the TV or endlessly perusing the internet might seem like the most relaxing option to take your mind off the stressors of daily life. And if you don’t already have your creative outlet mapped out, the end of a hard day can feel like an overwhelming time to try to figure out what it is.
But creativity is an incredibly important aspect of life, and one that living without can cause stress, anxiety and even depression. Being able to express yourself creatively allows you to shed negative emotions and build your self- esteem, as it helps you learn more about yourself and your innermost thoughts and feelings.
And if you feel like you don’t have a creative bone in your body, think again!
Creativity has nothing to do with “talent” – you don’t have to be the new Vincent van Gogh to be able to paint. Anyone can take a paintbrush to a canvas and go to town. Being creative is not about the end result, it’s about the process of self- expression and the alleviation of built-up stress.
Finding your preferred creative outlet is an important part of the process.
Where to Begin
Finding a creative outlet can be as easy as opening a coloring book and sitting down with a big box of crayons. It really doesn’t matter how you express yourself, as long as it’s something you enjoy doing. You’ll probably have to try a few different techniques before you land on one that suits you well, and you might even discover more than a few different art forms that speak to you.
One thing to keep in mind is that it’s easy to go overboard on supplies when beginning a new form of creative expression, and there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that. But try to hold off on spending too much before you’ve figured out if the art form works for you. You wouldn’t want to invest hundreds of dollars in canvases and oil paints only to discover you much prefer writing.
Give Yourself Permission to Play
A good place to start in finding your creative outlet is with a fun-loving, child-like attitude. Don’t put pressure on yourself to find the best medium or make sure you’re doing something that you’re good at. Creating can be spontaneous, adventurous, and downright silly. (There is nothing wrong with picking up finger-painting in your 30s!)
Take yourself back to those moments when you believed in fairies, when you chased imaginary friends through your backyard and sent letters to Santa. Even (and especially) if you were a serious kid, this is the time to let that inner child out, free to run wild and have a much-needed laugh.
You might make a mess when you’re creating. You might make a mistake or color outside the lines. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you have to let the child in you disappear – in fact, that kid can motivate you in ways you never imagined.
Don’t get caught up in what your song sounds like, what your painting looks like or even how well you can model clay kittens. This will only add stress to the process and muddy the essential nature of creativity, which is an expression of yourself! Creating is about enjoying the process, not adding more anxiety to your stressful life.
So, spill some paint, draw a silly cartoon or write a nonsensical poem. Embracing the less refined, more whimsical aspects of creativity make it all the more fun, and in turn, even more relaxing.
Learning a new skill can take time, and you may fumble at first. Whether you just can’t seem to hold the paintbrush steady or you aren’t sure what to write about, give yourself permission and time to improve. When you feel frustrated by creating, you end up training yourself to stop creating altogether.
Nothing has to be perfect – and more importantly, perfection is boring.
And, if one creative outlet doesn’t quite do it for you, that’s OK. It’s perfectly acceptable to move onto another medium, but don’t get frustrated with yourself in the process.
You might feel the urge to be as hard on yourself during the creative process as you are in real life, but the point of finding a creative outlet is creating a space of compassion where you can truly be yourself. Sometimes yourself is messy and makes mistakes. Embrace those mistakes, or what famous painter Bob Ross would call “happy accidents.”
Be kind as well about the activities you choose to experience, without judgment. It doesn’t matter if you’re 45 and playing with stickers – age is only a number! What matters most is that you enjoy what you’re doing.
Finding your creative outlet is all about embracing your unique talents and interests. You might even start by simply meandering through a crafts store and seeing what catches your eye. The goal is finding a form of expression that you’ll enjoy taking part in.
You might find that journaling sets your spirit alight, or that collaging is the technique you most enjoy. Writing poems might come naturally, or you might have the patience and focus to practice making origami. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to knit, or perhaps you’re drawn to the idea of creating art through photography. Whether you write, paint, draw or sing, put your whole personality into it. Your creative style might be entirely different from the next, and that’s exactly what makes it unique and beautiful.
This is one area of your life where you can focus wholly and fully on yourself and your preferences. Self-expression is all about releasing pent up energy through an outlet that you love experiencing.
No matter what outlet you choose, allow yourself total freedom of expression and soak in the feeling of total liberation from all self-judgment.
Remember: self-expression and creativity are meant to be personal, relaxing and invigorating.
As long as you feel good creating whatever you’re creating, you’re doing it right.
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