Monday, July 20, 2020

Creativity: The Stress Reduction Solution

As the COVID situation drags on here in America, stress levels remain high, as does depression and discouragement.  But one thing human beings have that perhaps other species do not is the power of creativity.  And during this time of isolation, quarantine, work-from-home, unemployment, and illness, it's important to use that power of creativity--more than ever before--to make your world something you can live with and thrive in.

Over the years our society has become adapted to high levels of entertainment.  From the constant availability of our phones and computers, to the endless ongoing events such as concerts, nightclubs, plays, and movies.  Local community guides have typically always had things to go do and give a try, and there has rarely been even the rainiest day that we cannot find something to keep us busy.  But COVID is challenging us to come up with many of these things on our own now.  Concerts and restaurants are closed, and even if one does find an event going on, it's not quite the same with the need to wear a mask and keep a distance of at least six feet, which changes the experience of most things entirely.

So now is the time to use the creativity that comes with this unique larger brain we are so proud of.  Let's not let its propensity of survival (i.e., to think of the worst-case-scenario in order to survive) bring us to our knees with discouragement.  In fact, in this age of modern technology--which is guaranteed to keep us distracted until the extinction of our species--this is the greatest opportunity we could ever imagine of getting a shot at learning to do something other than what we've been repetitively and ceaselessly doing every day for years.

Our stress comes from wanting things to be other than what they really are.  And right now, many things are changed.  And for many of those changed things, it does not look promising that things are going to go back to the way they were.  So continuing to want them to return to the way they were only causes suffering.

Instead, it's important to move on.  Let go of what was prior to COVID arriving, and begin to get creative now about the present and how it will shape the future.  Stress levels will only rise by  hanging on to a dead corpse, but stress levels can fall with acceptance of reality, which removes the oppressive feelings brought on by a refusal to let go of the way things once were.  COVID has changed the world and it's important to lift our heads from the steady focus we've had them on just to get through it, and now look up and look around us to see this changed world.

For instance, the world of work has just changed for good.   When COVID is long gone, this change will still remain.  It's possible we've just now entered an entirely different world of work-from-home that will alter everything from the commercial office industry to traffic statistics.  A large percentage of jobs may be changed now forever, and if we aren't going back, then we must adapt.  Change is hard and frustrating at first, but once the adaptation is made, forward momentum can pick up again.

So go ahead and mourn the loss of the way your life was before COVID.  It's important to mourn and get the feelings processed.  But then it's time to also process what the losses mean.  Yes, it's disappointing to not be able to get back to where we were before this all started, and most would admit they've held that desire in the back of their mind since it all began.  But the truth is, things are on a forward moving path and there is no going back.  It's time to decide now how you will create a new life for yourself in this continually changing situation. 

Stress levels remain high, but they can be lessened by tapping into the creativity of the human brain and coming up with new ways of functioning now regardless of if that is at home or work.  Don't wait for your favorite entertainment venue to reopen so you can once again be entertained.  Better is to be creative and think outside the box for safe and enjoyable things to do on your own.  Don't let giving up be the only option.  Adapt and thrive! 

Thanks to Don Miller for the great photo