A Cure for Motherhood Overwhelm
"I Need Help" by Eleatta Diver
Prints are available here.
The tyranny of urgent
For years I allowed myself to be held hostage by the incessant tyranny of urgent tasks and immediate demands.I had five kids. Need I say more? You might say that I learned about self care in the School of Hard Knocks.
Choking our clarity
Overwhelm and depression create numbness to the soul like novocaine does to gums. It can step on our air hose and choke our clarity.
Wake up call
It took a 'toes-hanging-over-the-cliff edge' season to compel me to wake up, turn around and begin to figure out a way to diffuse my internal pressure cooker before it annihilated me along with anyone nearby!
A road to healing
Thankfully, my husband helped uncurled my toes from the cliff with his practical no-drama-needed-solution. He bought me an art table - an adorable cobalt blue one with matching clip-on light PLUS a comfy swivel stool. I began to draw, paint and remember who I was. I has nearly lost the sense of 'self' in the wake of constant child care. Slowly, in fits and spurts, I started on a road towards healing.
Light heart and clear mind
As I kept creating, my heart lightened and my mind cleared. I slowly came to trust the tangible exchange of making an art piece and feeling happier.
Hands and heart
Noticing that creating with my hands had a significant impact on my psyche, I got curious as to the ‘why.’ I began researching and stumbled on"The Creativity Cure: How To Build Happiness With Your Own Two Hands” by Carrie and Alton Barron.
The pages of their book unpack the relationship between creativity and emotional wholeness. Presenting clinical examples, along with statistics they lay out clear prescriptive exercises reinforcing the axiom that creating and making are integral in lifting depression, reducing anxiety and increasing happiness. The genius of Carrie and Alton pours from wisdom garnered over four decades of medical and psychological expertise.
You need to create
Simply put, their work amplifies this simple fact. Humans NEED to create—to produce something using our hands and minds. These acts of creativity are fundamental in helping us connect to our inner selves and our outer environment.
Warning that too often, in our technology-driven, crazy-paced society, we neglect this need, the Barrons document ways in which the creative process promotes healing. They analyze ways in which creating connects our minds with our bodies and explain how this gives us a greater sense of satisfaction in our everyday life.
Creativity as self care
Repeatedly, Carrie and Alton insist that you need not be an artist or writer or musician to take creative action. The Creativity Cure is a rich tool for anyone. It is not about making art or being an artist, but rather mining the opportunities around us to use creative acts as a means of 'self-care.'
Step away from the piles
In hindsight, it's so odd. I should've known what would help me decompress. Creativity was there. It was waiting. But I never came to meet up with it. I had been an art major. I knew the soothing calm that washed over me when I was 'in the flow' of making and creating. But somehow, it seemed so counterproductive to step away from the endless piles of laundry, diapers, cooking, and errands to PAINT!!! Now I know better!
Replenish and revive
That was years ago. The kids are all grown now. The house is much quieter. The mountains of laundry are mere molehills. But the life-saving lessons that I learned about the importance of self-care and creating, I try to share with any cliff-clingers I meet! I want to spread this hard-learned lesson - it’s utterly unsustainable to continually give of yourself without creating ways to replenish and revive.
If your toes happen to be a little too near the edge of overwhelm, here's a brief sampling from the Barron’s expansive list you will want to try.
10 Ways to Feel Happier:
1.)Write a letter by hand
Research has shown that the general act of writing by hand can promote physical and mental benefits, from improving learning abilities to increasing a more positive outlook on life. And when it comes to writing letters or postcards, the impact lasts far longer than any of today’s high tech versions of communication. From the care and thoughtfulness of the sender to the value experienced by the recipient, no true match exists for this old-time, traditional means of conversation. So, grab some paper and start writing! Besides, you’ll also probably initiate a reciprocal effect of some similar act of thoughtful goodwill coming right back to you! “Give and it will be given to you.” (Luke 6:38)
For more letter wring inspiration...
2.) Watch a sunrise or sunset and swish some paints
Watching a sunset or a sunrise evokes a sense of awe and can help you slow down time and regain a feeling of having more control of your day. So take a few moments to take in the beauty. Then grab a tray of watercolors, some paper, a journal, or a sketchpad, and swish some similar colors around. Don’t try to recreate what you saw, but rather simply enjoy the sensation of the water as it mixes with the paint and the look of color as it oozes over your paper. Keep it simple and savory.
How sunsets can promote greater emotional wellness...
3.) Twirl around to some tunes
Even simple head bobbing to music can activate and release the pleasure centers of your brain that are the same areas activated by some drugs. Dance is a natural part of being human. It impacts our simple sense of pleasure and happiness. Even just spinning on the spot in your kitchen can switch your mental state to a higher level of joy. So, test it out yourself. Give yourself a gift. Put on a great tune, twirl, and twist some! You’ll feel lighter and more energized with a sunnier disposition. Here’s a great ‘feel-good’ playlist for you!
Top 20 'Happy' Songs of All Time | Billboard
4.) Swish some cool colors
Cool colors, those that are green, blue, and purple, are calming and soothing. In particular, purple is often used to help spark creativity as it’s a mixture of blue (calm) and red (intense). So pick up some colored pencils, gel pens, or watercolors and doodle away. You’ll feel refreshed and rejuvenated. It isn’t so much what you can do, but what you do. It’s the process itself that provides the value. If we can treasure the process of doing as much as ‘having done a thing perfectly’ we provide ourselves with new avenues for success, a heightened sense of self-esteem, and evidence of self-repair.
For creative art therapy ideas anyone can do...
5.) Stir up a new recipe
Getting your hands dirty and doing something physical, with a satisfying end product, is part of a great unwinding process. Whether it’s making a unique rendition of an old-time favorite like banana bread or sampling a recipe from an entirely new genre of cuisine, there’s something to be said for the glorious mindfulness of cooking. You can put on some music or a podcast and slip into a mild trance. And when you wake up, voila!
For recipes that'll make more happiness...
6.) Commit to a DIY project
We’re hardwired to create things with our hands, and in this age of tech, our brains truly need handmade self-expression. We experience satisfaction and a sense of well-being after we exert meaningful effort with our hands. It fosters pride and satisfaction, but also provides psychological benefits. When you make something, not only do you feel productive, but the engagement and exploration involved in the doing have the ability to move your mind and elevate your mood. So choose a project. It can be the simplest on Pinterest. Commit to it and see your disposition shift to the sunny side! Here are some suggestions for you to consider!
For DIY ideas that increase emotional wellness...
7.) Dare to doodle
Studies indicate an enormously high potential for evoking positive emotions happens through all art-making, but in doodling especially. Experiments show that while doodling, our blood flow is increased in the prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain that’s related to our brain's reward and pleasure circuit. An interesting side note is this. Tests revealed the highest levels of experiencing pleasure happened while doodling within or around a circular shape. So, give yourself a gift. Draw a circle. Take 15 minutes and luxuriate in doodling!
For simple ideas on doodling to increase happiness...
8.) Say ‘Yes!” to journaling
Writing by hand, on paper, helps the brain regulate emotion. Findings suggest that keeping a diary, making up poetry, or scribbling down song lyrics can help people get over emotional distress. This act of writing accesses our left brain, which is analytical and rational. While our left brain is occupied, our right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows us to use all of our brainpower to better understand ourselves, others, and the world around us. Ready, set, start!
Further reading on the emotional benefits of writing
9.) Write a note of encouragement
This item, though similar to #1, is more specific and focused in its intention. Think of someone who may need a word of encouragement or expression of appreciation. Write them a handwritten note. Did you know that receiving a compliment or verbal applause has the same effect on our brains as receiving cash? And while we can't force others to compliment us, when we give compliments to others we also reap some reward. That's because we feel good when we make other people feel good. It's a win-win!
For further reading on the benefits of letter writing...
10.) Bake some cookies
Psychologists have begun devoting time to exploring baking as a therapeutic tool to boost levels of optimism and overall feelings of well-being. They’re finding that the positive effects they are seeing are partly due to how baking provides small tasks to focus on in a manner that’s similar to meditation. It increases mindfulness. In this way, baking is a type of therapy that requires us to be both physically and mentally attentive and that provides us with a productive outlet for negative emotions and a safe space to be inwardly rejuvenated. So, go forth and bake!
For more ideas for baking happiness...
I hope you’ll enjoy these! Have fun! Let me know how they go for you! And I’d love to see pics of your creations!