Creativity on Crappy Days
I'm working on keeping this blog as real time as possible. As I mentioned in my last post, the intensity of René's film project can be felt in our home. In some cases, this has translated into restless nights, sleepless nights or nights spent waking up to 2am emergency phone calls. I'm the kind of creature who functions very poorly when I don't get a good night's sleep. One of my least favorite sensations is feeling tired and moving through my day after a night of less-than-adequate sleep is a real struggle for me.
When I'm feeling this way it can be very tempting to curl up into a little ball (either literally or metaphorically, depending on where I am at a given moment), abandon all attempts at being creative, and comfort myself with mindless distractions like social media or Netflix. But this approach brings short term fulfillment at best, and I'm still left stuck facing my crappy day.
Ultimately I know that my real happy place is my creative space. This internal state where my inspiration and ideas flow to me and I mold them into being through my words, my body, or some other medium; depending on what I'm working on at that time. Often times, tapping into this space allows me to move beyond whatever funk I'm feeling.
So I've come up with some tools & practices that help me find this place, even when my body and my mind want to be elsewhere. Here they are:
1) Moving Slowly
When I'm not feeling so great, I allow myself to move through all of my daily activities with extra slowness, whether I'm taking a shower or brewing a cup of coffee. Sometimes I'll pair my slow movement with my breath or even get my Ujjayi* or ocean breath on. This sounds a little funny (picture me breathing Darth Vader like while I'm brewing a cup of coffee), and I've definitely gotten a few quizzical looks from the hubby. But it helps me re-center and become more integrated in my body again. When I do this, I kind of feel like I'm meditating or doing yoga, without actually being on my mat or my cushion.
2) Sipping on Ginger or Peppermint Tea
These are my go-to teas when I'm looking for a reset. Here's a little bit about them:
According to Chinese medicine, ginger restores Yang, or "hot energy" and revs up your circulation (2), making it particularly effective when you're feeling sluggish or stagnant but still want to tap into your creative energy.
How To Prepare:
Because ginger is a root, ginger tea is prepared by making a decoction. This means that you boil the tea rather than simply steeping it, as you would with teas made using leaves or flowers. Wash a large piece of organic ginger root. Add approx. 1/4 cup coarsely chopped ginger root to 3 cups spring water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for approx. 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for another 15 minutes. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy. This will yield a good-sized batch. If your tea is too strong, you can always dilute it with some water. I like to pour any leftover tea into a jar and store it in the fridge; it's also really yummy chilled!
Peppermint tea really helps to kick my brain into creative top gear. What I love about peppermint is that it is simultaneously relaxing and focus-boosting. The menthol in peppermint relaxes your muscles, which also leads to overall mental and emotional relaxation. And studies carried out by the University of Cincinnati have found that the scent of menthol stimulates the hippocampus, which is the memory center of the brain (3).
How to Prepare:
Unlike ginger tea, peppermint tea is prepared by making a infusion: Bring two cups of spring water to boil. Remove from heat. Add either 1/2 cup fresh peppermint leaves or 1 tablespoon dried. Steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain tea & enjoy the sense of calming focus that'll envelop you!
3) Soaking up Sunshine
The sun is one of my go-to tools when I feel like I need a boost. Even just five minutes (ideally wearing as little clothing as possible so you can really soak up those rays) can have an immensely energizing and revitalizing effect and can literally transform how you feel for the rest of your day. Check out my Daily Essentials post for some more info on sunshine soaking.
4) A Little Bit of Movement
Part of getting myself out of whatever funk that I'm in is stirring up, moving around and releasing whatever energy I'm carrying. Even when I'm not in the mood for a full-blown workout, a short walk or some gentle yoga can work wonders. Check out the Yoga With Adriene channel on YouTube if you're looking for some inspiration, it's one of my faves.
5) Changing Environments
I've noticed that my funky feelings tend to spread into my environment. At which point I'll begin to feel like I'm wallowing in a stew of toxic thoughts and low energy. No bueno. When this starts to happen, I know it's time to open those windows, air it out, burn some incense. And, ideally, take it a step further and switch environments altogether. A new environment carries new and fresh energy, which supports the process of getting into a different energetic space internally. Sometimes I'll treat myself to my favorite coffee shop. Or it can even be something simpler like running a fun errand like grocery shopping (that is, if grocery shopping is your idea of fun =)). Oftentimes, stepping into a new environment of my choosing, or even just the act of driving or walking there, will make me feel energized and refreshed and eager to delve back into my creative work.
Now for some words of comfort before I wrap up this post: I've observed that on almost all of my crappy days, the period of crappiness usually intensifies at some point, and then begins to dissipate. At which point i'll begin to feel considerably better. So if you're not feeling so great, remind yourself that this sensation will pass, and that you may emerge from your crappy day feeling even better and more energized than you did before.
Wishing you all a beautiful day my friends, regardless of whether it's a crappy or a wonderful one.
with love & creativity,
words: Leah Salinas
(1) If you're curious about learning Ujjayi breath, check out this excellent article.