The Power of Creativity in Challenging Times

written by: Jeanine Mannweiler, LMHC, NCC

How “creative” are we called to be during this challenging time and what does creativity have to do with handling emotions related to a pandemic?

In my practice, I work with clients toward the goal of living more empowered lives, but how can we accomplish this when we are called to halt our regular activities, our normal lives? Is it even possible, considering the circumstances? I believe it is, and I believe that the answer lies in balance and creativity.

Let’s start by exploring the answers to a few important questions we can ask ourselves. First, are we taking care of our mental health right now and, if not, how do we best do that? I suggest we accomplish it through balance. I encourage you to make a conscious effort to balance the difficult information on the news with more uplifting exposures. Choose to stay informed by watching the news, but also choose to watch programs that lift your spirits and make you smile. At a minimum, give these exposures at least equal time. At best, have the uplifting programming far exceed any negative or depressing news.

Another mental health boost may come in the form of challenging yourself to get creative with what constitutes being social. Skype with a friend who always makes you laugh. Call your favorite aunt who shares some of your most precious childhood memories. Make a plan with a group of friends who you would normally meet up with for dinner and start a group video “meeting.”  Plan your next vacation with a loved one or friend – no matter how far in the future it may need to be.

Next, what about our physical health? Are we nourishing our physical bodies?  Spending time outdoors and in nature is a great outlet right now and safe as long as we keep a healthy distance from others. We need the physical and mental benefits that being outside, exercising and simply moving more provide. Most of us have the extra time right now. Be creative…maybe have each family member come up with a fun and creative exercise that can be done in the house or in the yard and then do them all together. If you are alone at home, crank up the creativity and give each day of the week a theme: Monday Morning Stretch Day, Tuesday Tone Your Abs Day, etc. Take advantage of cable and YouTube exercise routines. Track your progress to have something tangible to show for your efforts.

Your more empowered self is still emerging even during this time, and maybe in more significant ways than ever before. Take advantage of what this time can prove to be for you, individually and in the broader sense. Someone very close to me, nearing retirement, heads up a company that is being hit especially hard right now. My encouragement to him was this: “Let the grace and professionalism that you exude as you handle this crisis, be the mark you leave behind with this industry you served for 40 years. Let this be the beautiful indelible mark for which you are always remembered.”

That creative thinking turns a professional “tragedy” into an unexpected “opportunity.”  We can’t control the fact that life presents us with challenges. We can, however, control the way we approach and respond to those challenges. That’s living An Empowered Life!

No matter if we are living our normal routine lives or living lives with greater obstacles, taking care of ourselves is always the key to peace and joy. Take advantage of that truth, with balance and creativity.

Stay safe!

Jeanine Mannweiler, LMHC, NCC

An Empowered Life, Counseling and Psychotherapy

Delray Beach, Florida