Writer Wednesday: The Connection Between Creativity and Mental Health
Hello and good morning Authors and welcome to another #writerwednesday. Now, I've written on the topic of mental health matters more than once. I am a huge proponent of acknowledging mental health as a vital component of our well being. I put it on the same level as physical health, because poor mental health has proven to be as equally debilitating as poor physical health. May is Mental Health Awareness month, and we as a society continue to fight against engrained stigma that equate poor mental health to laziness. In the age of the Grind, our productivity has become so entangled with ideas of usefulness, and that extends to creative pursuits and careers.
The Counter Balance of Creativity and Mental Health
The act of creativity has been somewhat warped by the modern mindset. When it comes to terms of mental health, using writing as a hobby might be considered the healthiest path. The expression of creativity has substantial proven benefits to one's mental health, from increasing positive emotions, to reducing depressive symptoms and anxiety, and even boosting the function of immune systems. There are other studies on the opposite side of the coin that study the correlations between creative people and mental illness. Creative expression is an outlet for many people managing the ins and outs of mental illness.
However, many of us don't see writing as a hobby or even a passion. We see it as a job, as a grind we must commit ourselves to. Our success is hinged on our ability to produce. But creativity does not truly lend itself to a grind mentality, and those that do pump out stories with increasingly tight schedules often hit a wall. Whether it is a lack of ideas, lack of motivation, or worse, the toll rapid production takes on the body, forcing ourselves into a grind often proves to be a counter balance to mental well being. And this is not shade to those out there who are creating a successful production and release schedule, but it is not a method that works for everyone and if it doesn't work for you, that doesn't make you a failure.
The modern monster of capitalism might arguably be in its later stages (depending on who you ask) but it's still going strong, and the pressure to make a hustle out of our passions is higher than ever. To the point where there is a thriving sub industry of guides telling you how to do just that, or formulaic methods for achieving the creative grind. Do they work? Debatable. A method might work for one out of ten people, but none of those guides account for the toll to mental health that forcing creativity takes.
When we find ourselves forcing creativity, is it any wonder that our collective burn out is so high right now? We have fostered a culture where creativity is now a strain on our already strained mental resources, effectively sucking the joy out of it. How do reclaim our creativity for ourselves? There are no easy answers here. The choice to pursue writing and creation as a career means finding a balance between that mental strain and the joy of pursuing ones passion. And there is joy to be found. There is joy and celebration and moments of true satisfaction. And to find those moments, we need to embrace that correlation between creativity and mental health. One aspect cannot thrive if the other falters. It is vital to treat ourselves with kindness and to keep our mental health in mind when it feels like 'we are not doing enough'.
You are doing exactly enough.
Resources & Further Reading