How Creativity Helps with Fighting the Pandemic Blues

A therapist shares how a creativity challenge helps stave off pandemic fatigue.

Posted Oct 19, 2020

Kristin Meekhof
Source: Kristin Meekhof

This year is unlike any other as the stress of the pandemic impacts anxiety levels and continues to shape our behaviors. As a mental health professional, early on I was concerned about the psychological effects of staying at home for an extended period of time, both for others and myself. 

To be clear, staying at home is not in my nature, so this was a drastic change in my routine. Before March 2020, I frequently found myself boarding an airplane to travel for my work as an author, speaker and wellness coach. It wasn't unusual for me to be away from home multiple days a week. With international coronavirus concerns and a Michigan stay-at-home order, all of this came to a halt.

The desire to steer myself away from feeling loneliness started around day 30. Rather than giving in to feelings of angst, I decided to create something new each day. My additional costs were minimal as I wasn't seeking to design masterpieces or try to keep up with any of the online creative outlets I viewed. Instead, I launched into personal ways that allow for creative flow, with the only goal being daily innovation

Since my actions were disjointed micro things, I didn't have a big picture. Instead, I opted to make creativity work at home by literally setting the intention of doing small, good things each day. My projects ranged from writing a blog (sometimes published here or a piece in Katie Couric's newsletter) to making a new dish to doodling to sketching a new line of a poem written by a poet I read. Some activities were spontaneous and others were planned out.

To my surprise, the experiences brought joy. I felt the feeling of accomplishment no matter how minute the action seemed to be, and it didn't matter if anyone else knew. I also notice a daily innovation challenge gives me a sense of purpose each day. As the pandemic lingers on, the greater sense of finding value in creativity increases. 

I've found creative outlets can be fun as well as allow for personal growth. There were times I added a new street to my run or read an article in a vertical I normally wouldn't seek because I was curious. At the heart of innovation lies curiosity, so I also boosted it with intentional online interactions as well as my own learning moments. And creativity became part of my self-care routine.

Through a confluence of events, primarily the stay-at-home order, I ate every meal alone for dozens of consecutive days. There were days I used meal prep as my creative outlet. At times, I communicated through social media with chefs and searched for new ways to use ingredients. I experimented with sauces and learned how to maximize ingredients. Who knew meal prep could be a source of creative learning and expression? 

Giving myself a daily innovation challenge is one thing that helps me not only maintain my well-being but also helps my career thrive. While creativity can be hit-and-miss, the work I do with thought leaders, authors, and other creatives requires flexibility, competency, and authentic connection.

My daily innovation challenge helps me become more flexible in thinking and makes the time I spend online searching for engagement and new information more meaningful. Also, learning, even though the subject matters aren't always directly related to my career, increases my happiness and decreases my anxiety. I found taking the initiative with my own creative process gave me the tools to feel in control during a time when so many things seem out of our control. 

References

Meekhof, Kristin "8 Tips For Elevating Your Mind and Decreasing Stress", published in Katie Couric's Wake- Up Call Newsletter.