We live in a super-hectic world. There’s always something to be done either on the home front – clothes to be washed, taps to be fixed, windows to be washed or outside the home – pending work tasks, studying for interviews, haircut and so and the list continues. People, especially women, can keep adding and crossing off such tasks through the weeks before they let off some steam, sit down and randomly feel dissatisfied about the life they lead. Women are prone to this cycle of being ‘caught up’ in tasks – worrying about not being able to complete (sometimes compete) things on time – and later regretful (sometimes resentful) about time ill-spent that impacts their overall sense of well-being.
Life-coaches, wellness experts have long advocated ‘Me-time’ for psychological and physical benefits for everyone. Add to it the ‘joy of creation,’ and ‘me-time’ becomes even more effective. “True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.” Said French Novelist Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Like me-time, the power to create something has tremendous potential to improve self-contentment. For me, this discovery happened when I was at the busiest crossroads of my life. Like many new mothers, I was discontented, ever-anxious and low on self-worth, given that my professional life also went on the back burner. In my desperate bid to find greater meaning in life, I took after-work painting classes. I couldn’t be regular there owing to personal commitments, but was still able to make three paintings in three months (the rest of the class painted six). Each painting made me prouder of myself – even though they are nowhere close to professional quality. I felt alive. I felt happy. I felt a little more at ease with myself. And I haven’t looked back since. Then I moved on to other things – gardening, D-I-Y home improvements etc. Sometimes, I surprise myself by taking up diverse projects and finding time to complete them.
Here are five reasons why the joy of being able to create something tangible worked for me and may also work for many women in their de-stressing journey.
Creative confidence is up for grabs
The word ‘creative’ has been dominated by artists and designers for far too long. But that’s not true. Authors Tom and David Kelley writer of the book ‘Creative Confidence’ call this mindset a creativity myth. Everyone can be creative. You have to start tinkering in something that you always want to try out.
Creating something with your own hands, nurtures individualistic confidence. This in turn increases self-assurance in face of hundreds of decisions that you make each day (consciously and subconsciously). Confidence leads to self-assurance which leads to lesser anxiety and finally a happier you.
Anticipation is exciting
Once you have started on the creative journey in your ‘me-time’ – let’s say painting– It’s but natural that every attempt will inspire you with new ideas related to whatever you are doing – using acrylic with matt medium vs glossy, or even completely unrelated to it.
The key is to not to dismiss your ideas straight away. Think about them, get excited about them, and look forward to implementing them. This will keep your brain excited and your heart happy. A thing as simple as kitchen gardening helps me smile on tough days, when I see new leaves on a plant shoot. I have sent pictures of my radishes to friends at 5 am in the morning – no kidding.
No judgments. That’s the key to happy me-creative time. Create something yourself and only for yourself. It’s likely that whatever you try, might not be good to look at, or to use or to gift – Big deal! Free yourself from the shackles of imperfection and expectations, and undertake this journey for yourself alone. If you don’t compare yourself to anyone, no one else can. Except when you feel you are so good at creating something that you can actually sell it. Then it’s a different kind of freedom altogether.
Get in touch with yourself
Maybe you will come to know that all these years you have dreamt about being painter, you don’t even like painting. Good Job! The beauty of creating something in your ‘me time’ puts you in true touch with yourself as what you like or don’t.This is the digital age and Internet has made it possible for all of us to start learning at our own pace and time. This helps you reduce the regrets, wrongs assumptions you might have had about your interests and dreams
It’s not the result that matters
Lastly, when it comes to creating, like so many other things in life, it’s the journey that matters.
Every human being is a complex emotionally with years and years of experiences and baggage. When you set out to create something, be it a piece of music, a sheet of lyrics, a tray of cookies, some icing on cake, some doodling on a plain paper, or, even a small paper boat, it’s a little bit of what we have learnt and a little bit of what we have imagined that gets translated into that creation. Like it’s with all human emotions, it’s the expression that matters.
So go ahead and create stuff with gusto, Spend some time and little money on yourself. What you chose to create is immaterial – it could be writing a story or making a dress from a T-shirt (lot of tutorials on that on the net!) or upcycling shoes, or recycling buckets. If you don’t like one activity, move to the next. Don’t get too attached to your creations – keep moving forward. If you are looking for encouragement and inspiration, search for similar groups on social sites like Facebook, Pinterest.
Create for all to see or for no one. It’s your wish at the end of the day.
Then, sit back, smile and rejuvenate.
I originally wrote this article at WomensWeb