By Cirri Shafran, NLC
Stress is a one-syllable word that has infinite power and manifests in so many ways. It’s a feeling that most experience on a regular basis.
In fact, according to statistics gathered by the American Institute of Stress in 2014, 77 percent of Americans regularly experience physical reactions to stress, while 73 percent experience psychological symptoms.
In the short-term, stress can help some people thrive, by propelling them into action. For most, however, it acts like a giant web that entangles its poor victim. What is your spider? What creates the stress trap for you? More importantly, are you able to manage the challenge to get out of the trap, or are do you get stuck in the web every time?
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If it’s the latter, one thing that may help is to tap into your creative and imaginative self (instead of reaching for the bag of chips that’s calling your name). As meditation guru Deepak Chopra, MD, explains, various research studies suggest that engaging in creative activities may actually curb your body’s stress response (by decreasing the release of cortisol). “Just like physical exercise, creative stimulation engages and focuses our minds on the task at hand—and distracts us from feelings of stress and anxiety.”
So, next time you’re feeling stuck in the stress zone, try to remove yourself from your situation for a moment. Breathe. And then put these ideas into practice by engaging in the creative process. Here are five ideas that can help you do that, even if you’re not the artistic type.
Cirri Shafran is a mama and wife, and is thrilled with her position in this world as a woman. She has a masters degree in Creative Arts Therapy from Hofstra University and is currently running a private practice in Long Island, New York. She has a great appreciation and understanding of the mind-body connection, which propelled her to become Nutritious Life Certified and is currently continuing this pursuit through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Her happy place is in the kitchen, creating delicious and nutritious meals for her family (and herself). Through her creative experiences, introspection and learning, she has developed a strong sense of self-identity and wants to help others do the same. Connect with Cirri at email@example.com or on Instagram @c_and _reflect. Stay tuned for the upcoming CandReflect website!
5 Creative Practices for Stress Relief
Taking the time to put your feelings on paper can help relieve stress as well as help you see a situation in another manner. The mere experience of letting your feelings flow freely onto paper can be extremely therapeutic.
2. Draw a Mandala
When things seem to be out of control, you may need to create containment for yourself. To do this, trace a circle onto a paper, play some calming music, and then begin to draw. There are no rules—you can draw realistically or simply shapes and forms. You may find yourself needing to go outside the lines, and that’s okay, too.
3. Make a collage
Grab a few of your favorite magazines and start ripping out pictures, words, or textures that appeal to you. Cut them out as you desire and arrange them into a collage. There are so many benefits of working with collage, including joining small pieces together to create a larger unit. Think: Building yourself up instead of putting yourself down. Plus, there’s no need to draw, which can be intimidating for some.
4. Paint with watercolors
The intrinsic nature of watercolor paint is that it flows. It can be extremely calming to paint strokes and forms in tune with some music. Experiment with layering colors, saturation, and different size brushes. You may end up with a masterpiece, or maybe just a new hobby.
5. Try beading
Head to your local craft store or website and pick up some basic beading materials. Then, put on some soft music and get stringing. The repetitive movement of putting the beads onto string can center and calm you so you’re better able to manage stress.
In the end, stress is a part of life and there is no getting around it. But hopefully these ideas for creative solutions will lessen the load.