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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Stress Relief for the Artist

Stress is probably one of the greatest killers of creativity that I can think of. Stress can come from interpersonal problems at home, health issues, and workplace craziness to name a few.  Apart from robbing you of joy from your everyday existence (which should be reason enough to look for relief) it is a tremendous killer of creativity. It is probably impossible to completely eliminate stress from your life, but what is possible is to reduce the sources of, and more importantly your reaction to, stress.

Its really important to first decide where and what the source of the stress is, and taking steps to eliminate it.  It might be helpful to write down what you think is causing you stress, followed by steps to eliminate it.  If you feel you have taken as many steps to eliminate the source, whatever it may be, you may want to add some of the following ideas to your routine:
A few Alternative Stress Relievers 

1. Primal Sound:  Primal Sound is a sound intonated in a way that relieves stress, and promotes a meditative state.  One of the most well known mantras that can be used as a primal sound is "ohm"  Another Primal sound involves repeating the alphabet vowels AEIOU should be repeated as follows aaayyyyeeeeeeeiiiiiiiioooooouuuuu, in a monotone slowly and steadily.  A good place to do this is your car. If you attempt to do it around others you will probably receive stares as if you had just swallowed a wasp. Believe it or not, this is a terrific way to quiet your mind, and I've done it on my way to work to help relieve stressful feelings.

2. Lite Exercise Walking or working out with light weights is a great way to relieve stress.  If you are physically up to it, ramping up the intensity is a very quick way to burn of frustrations and stress.  If not, a walking mediation may be more your speed.  During the walk it is good to quiet your mind and focus on your surrounds.  Pay attention to the trees, flowers, grass and sky, or if you are in the city, carefully focus on the buildings and surroundings, and leave your music at home.  The idea is to de-stress, and believe it or not, distractions such as music aren't always helpful.

3. Color  With Crayons that is. I can't think of anything better than the smell of a fresh box of crayolas. Forget making "art" with a capital A. The idea here is to get in touch with your inner child if you will, the one that still knows how to have fun, and isn't afraid of getting dirty.  Draw all those kittys, clouds, doggys, etc and your stress will be sliding away in no time.

4. Sing and Dance  This is another activity that you may want to do in private, esp if you don't have good dance moves or a stellar voice.  Regardless of your ability level though, there is nothing more fun that to get down with your favorite music, or belt out the lyrics of your favorite song, and the combination of movement and fun is especially good at restoring your person.

5. Play If you have children this is easily accomplished. A day at the park on the swings, playing mini-golf with the kids, or just a fun picnic. Don't despair though even if you don't, grab your trusty pooch, or just go by yourself to a public park. Most are equipped with a swing-set, or if available take your dog to a dog park.  Dogs are great at living in the moment, and if you allow yourself you will forget your problems in no time.   Its odd that many people feel weird doing things by themselves, so if you have neither dog nor pooch, consider going to a movie alone, playing miniature golf, or bowling.  Believe it or not, people aren't really going to give you more than a second glance, esp if you are alone during the weekday.  If you still feel like you need moral support consider joining a club.  Most communities are brimming with a variety of groups that can be joined for free or minimal fees.

4. Meditation Tapes In the links section of this site there are a number of tapes designed to create brain states consistent with the physical state you want to achieve.  I have a fair collection of tapes and CDs and have found them to be great at providing stress relief amongst other things.  One thing though is that these should NEVER be played while driving, they are that good at calming your mind that it would be very easy to lose track of what you are doing.

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