Converting Pain Into Creativity

I hurt therefore I am.   

For much of my life, it’s seemed as if pain has been a measure of whether I’m alive. Pain is not always pleasant but it’s better than feeling nothing at all. I’ve swung on both sides of the pendulum, either worrying about the slightest bit of pain to excess, or ignoring pain entirely.

For me, emotional pain and anxiety don’t just exist in my head, but often turn into physical aches and pains. Can you relate to this? 

Is stress causing you tension? Is anxiety marked by stomach aches, indigestion, headaches and muscle spasms? It’s not bad enough that you’re not feeling great in spirit, but now you can’t even keep down any food without the burn that comes with acid travelling up into your oesophagus.

I’ve often dealt with this excess of pain simply by trying to ignore it. I feel like this is more common than one thinks.

You know how people use the phrase “listen to your body”? I would do exact opposite. I’d feel nauseated from my anxiety and instead of making myself a cup of ginger tea to calm myself I’d crack open a beer or stuff my face with noodles. Now beer and noodles are both delicious (and I still enjoy both enormously), but they were not what my body was asking for at that very moment. Not what my body needed. All I was doing was trying to suppress my anxiety rather than deal with it.

I think a lot of folks deal with both physical, mental and emotional pain similarly, by trying to bury it. It’s a habit that, once started, is hard to get out of. These days, though, after decades of these types of pain, I’m trying to be more strategic about pain management. Creative, if you will.

So Here’s some tips I’d like to share with you for how you can convert your pain into creativity:

1-Keep a journal handy, always.

I have several types of journals for different purposes. I have one where I simply record the food I’ve eaten and how it’s made me feel. This helps me if certain foods trigger pain or inflammation for me. What food is soothing and what upsets my stomach.

I have another journal simply for mental health. It helps me see my anxious thoughts for what they are-just thoughts, not an actual indication of how I am doing.

A third journal is more of a sketchbook, it helps me draw out some emotions that I’m feeling and keeps me balanced and inspired by the world around.

Maybe journaling is not for you but even writing down a couple of words a day can help change your perspective. It’s taking that bottled up pain and turning it into something tangible and possibly helpful. 

2-Feel your body

I’m not saying you need to grab every limb of yours and access it’s strength, but I find that when I’m feeling physical and mental pain sometimes just being mindful of my breath and body helps. This can be in the form of deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or any other form of exercise. You don’t need to go to a 45 min class to get the benefits. Simply rolling out you mat and stretching for a couple of minutes can help you rest.

3-Change your scenery

So often any form of pain can make us feel stuck. Stuck in bed, stuck in our homes, stuck in our heads. I often marvel and the healing powers of simply feeling the sun against my face. Sometimes my body can feel so tired that the last thing I want to do is go out and see friends or take a walk, but the thing is I always, always, always feel better afterwards. And walks can often inspire my writing, whether it be fiction or non-fiction. I love going out too, especially to organized events like group painting sessions, because not only can you socialize but you are also refocusing all your nervous energy on something that gets your creative juices flowing, no matter what the result is.

What do you think you could do more of in your life to convert your pain into creativity? Is it being out in nature more that will help you reset and invigorate your life? What about learning a new language? Taking a cooking course? Writing down some positive observations in your journal? These techniques are nothing new and are related to mindfulness, but I truly find them effective in managing pain.

 These days I’m trying to think less in terms of “I hurt therefore I am” and more in terms of “I create therefore I am.” 

Glossless Loves...Bookish Details

Somewhere around September, mid-month, I ran out of things to blog about.  Anyone who has ever blogged on a semi-steady schedule has probably felt this way before. I looked around for inspiration but nothing did the trick.  Blogs elsewhere were doing it better, faster, and to larger audiences.  Sure, I still wrote during that time, but mostly chipping away at essays that didn't fit into the blogging format. And I read. Devoted whole weekends to reading while the leaves changed outside my window without me noticing.

There's a comfort in books, even when the well of ideas and posts run dry, even when your bones ache with fatigue or ennui. So here's some bookish paraphernalia that has delighted me this fall, to inspire you when everything seems rather blah:

1.  A book on the wall/Soho Art Custom Framing/ $15 

These small frames are perfect for for tiny spaces. We hang ours over our nightstand next to our bookshelf. Duh...


2. A book-Inspired onesie/Out Of Print/ $22

There's a new-ish baby in the family and this book swag is way to precious to handle.

Onesie .jpg