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Battling with “Creative Depression” – Coping as a Creative Person During Quarantine

I don’t know about you, but I feel like a little part of me dies when I’m not being creative. Thankfully my job allowed me the freedoms to express myself creatively, but since construction has stopped on all projects (unless you started before April 4th), I’ve felt like a shutdown factory. To all creative people out there (or to everyone who can’t do what they’re made to do), the time in quarantine can be tough especially if you can’t work. As I work my way through the weeks, I’ve jotted down a few notes of things that have helped me cope, hoping that this might spark an idea in some of you going through the same thing. Feel free to comment with some ideas of your own.

Quarantine Creation – Ginger poached apples with salted oats
  1. Find a New Creative Outlet
    It helps to express your creativity in different ways, even if you’re not necessarily good at it (yet)! I’m sure your Instagram is as filled with sourdough bakers too, but there is some merit in trying to create in a new medium. Some fun suggestions: take photos, shoot some videos and make a mini movie, fruit carving, knitting, calligraphy, paint airplane models.
  2. Learn the “Rules” then Break them!
    If you’re planning on learning something new, take some time to learn the basics (who hasn’t watched a sourdough YouTube video yet?) and then go to town and make it your own. Find the best chocolate chip recipe and add curry to it (it’s actually good!). If you’re going to paint a picture of your cat for example, try one in pen and ink, but another with neon paints. Being creative doesn’t mean you need to colour within the lines all the time!
  3. Get Even Better at Your Craft
    Whatever your “usual” area of creativity is, put in the time and effort to hone that craft. Become an expert at the product(s) you work with, or find people in the same field and learn from them. There’s always something new to learn, or be inspired by! If you own your own business, try your hand at bettering your socials or get on top of your finances.
  4. Rediscover Music
    One of the things that have helped me deal with my “creative depression” over the years is discovering and curating playlists of music of all sorts of genres. Music does seem to strike a special chord with creatives and could be another avenue of expression. Some genres you might not have thought of that are quite relaxing to me: bossa nova, jazz (classics like Ella Fitzgerald or search “brunch jazz), classical (Yo-Yo Ma), Spanish guitar, country ballads (Kacey Musgraves), and contemporary Christian (Pat Barrett). I also find that listening to music in another language works great too such as Korean, or Italian.
  5. Watch Something Completely Different
    In that same vein, for some reason watching something of a completely different era or genre really relaxes my mind when I feel anxiety due to lack of creativity. Whether it’s retro Columbo, Anime, Jane Austen costume films, a sports movie, or Korean Dramas, there’s something about getting lost in a completely different world than yours. Some might say that it’s just escapism, but I believe it has the power to inspire creativity too.
  6. Re-arrange your Space
    I’m not just suggesting this because i’m in interior design. There is definitely merit into re-imagining the space that you live in. If you can, start off with something out of sight such as a guest room. One of my tactics is to remove everything out of the room first, and put it back in, starting with the largest piece of furniture on the longest wall (as a general guideline). Perhaps i’ll write another blog post on that later, but once you’ve got that down, you can try your hand at your bedroom or main living space. Hack: use felt pads to move the furniture around if you have hardwood floors.
  7. Journal or Write
    If you’ve never kept a journal, Covid-19 times are the best of times to start. Not only is it therapeutic to sort out your thoughts on paper, it will give you a sense of perspective when you look back on your past journals. Thankfulness is the best anecdote to anxiety.
  8. Contribute to a Worthy Cause
    Is there a way to use your skills to help others? Perhaps you could bake for a neighbour, go grocery shopping for elderly parents, craft thank you cards for front line workers or help out a non-profit with your time and talent. Unleash your creativity in this time when it’s needed most!
  9. Self-Care: Pray, Meditate & Exercise
    Ok, so i’m not the best person to be writing this since I’ve definitely packed on the #quarantine15 but the main point here is self-care. Don’t let yourself go into the oblivion of chips and chocolate to cope with creative depression. There are prayer and meditation apps that are really great (I like ChurcHome’s app), and a huge variety of exercise resources available. Also try to end the day with 5 things you’re grateful for to keep things in perspective.

Disclaimer: I realize that calling it depression could be sensitive to some. If you are experiencing signs of depression i’m not simply suggesting you bake a cake and it will go away. I’ve experienced depression myself and sought professional counseling.

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