Letting Out Creative Stress
Dealing With Stress
With life, in general, comes stress. Finding a way to manage it seems easy enough until you realize that not all stress is equal. The stress from work, bills, and adult responsibilities can be let out by a nice relaxing bath or enjoying a TV show. Even writing fiction has helped me release stress many times. But what about the stress that comes from using your creative brain?
That type of stress took me the longest to understand effective ways to manage it. Relaxing and letting my brain go numb from watching TV don’t do the same thing for creative stress. I needed something different, something that let my brain rest in a different way. It took me some time to understand the difference and rest and relaxation come in as many forms as stress does.
Finding a Solution
For me, the answer was not simple and took some time to understand. It started at around the time the world went on lockdown. I had all the free time to write and be as creative as I could, something that usually took care of my daily stressors. And it worked, at least for a few weeks. After writing to my heart’s content and pumping out more words daily than ever before, I hit a wall. I wanted to write, I needed to write, but I couldn’t sit down and do it. I didn’t know what changed.
After a month or two of distracting myself with the warm weather summer brought, it clicked. This wall that I hit wasn’t normal stress, but instead, it was creative stress or rather, burnout. I had used my creative brain too much and overworked it to the point of mental exhaustion. I had to find a way to re-juice my brain’s creativity without losing it all completely. Some things I tried worked at times but faded away. I tried my hand at drawing and got back into my old photography habits. Although it felt nice and refreshing, it wasn’t what I needed.
This is where I realized how amazing a long walk can be for the creative side of the brain. I started going on walks to get out of the house and get some exercise. What I gained from the walks was more than I had planned for. Walking to no particular destination for no predetermined amount of time freed me. Free from everything going on and left me alone with my mind to think.
Taking the Long Way Home
I thought about everything going on in the world and everything in my own life that was going on. After all the thoughts were able to come and go, my mind went back to my writing. I thought about the stories I was last working on before I got stuck. I replayed them in my head with what I could remember I had already written. I thought about what could happen and what would happen if a character did something out of the ordinary. What would happen if the main character’s dog died, or what if the genre switched to science fiction. My mind was able to roam free with wild ideas and imagination. I wasn’t tied down to word count or trying to make the next section perfect. I was able to think outside of my normal comfort zone and see what the story could be.
Too often when writing I want to make it as effective as it can be the first time around. So I rack my brain for minutes on end without writing a word trying to think what needs to happen next. What characters are in what places and who are they going to interact with next? The absoluteness of it all for fear of not wanting to waste words; wore me down.
What I Learned
This gave my brain free rein to imagine and pretend like I did when I was a kid, as I imagine we all did as kids. As we grow and take on life and get stuck into the routines of society, it can be hard to find a break from it. Writing was my break away from it, but even that took its toll and became routine. Exercise in the form of walks, hikes, or even with indoor equipment helped free me from me.
What helps the most is taking time away from the normal. Doing something that doesn’t take thought power and getting away from everything. If not for only a few moments here and there. Life is stressful enough, and we need ways to take a break from it and remember what it is we enjoy again.
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