The healthy creative

Burn out. Stress. Anxiety…It’s time to talk about it openly.

Unfortunately, these are very common experiences not  just in  our  professional circles but in the average global culture we live in

Luckily for us, as a result of today’s connected world , conversations about these issues are now taking place everywhere and the word is starting to spread.

Here at  Animawarriors we are also taking steps to help create a new culture of healthy creatives, in which a balanced and healthy lifestyle is paramount to both our reigns above both personal and professional lives.

As starter, I think it would be a good idea to share some of the latest conversations that are happening around these issues. There is nothing like hearing others talking openly about this to lose a bit of the fear and the resistance to open ourselves up, and also to help us see if we are going through similar situations.

Also, we are happy to spread the voice about those other platforms and creators that are helping create more awareness and share resources that may help us all.

Let’s talk about mental health and wellbeing in the creative industry – Hugo’s Desk.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=um6f07b4gPo

A Conversation With: TED TY – An Agora community conversation, which includes topics on mental health. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jk6eNcvUQ6E

9 Ways Creatives Can Manage Anxiety – 99u , an Adobe’s platform that explores creativity and has many  articles on mental health.
https://99u.adobe.com/articles/65304/pause-before-you-begin-six-dimensions-of-wellness-exercises-to-assess
Now, I’d like to add a bit on my own personal input in these matters and recommendations since this is also a big part of my life. Just quickly mentioning as a reference ( also so you know where is all this coming from ) out of my 15 years of being part of the animation film industry , almost 10 have  been dedicated to therapy and personal development which was triggered by an outburst of burn out, stress and all the personal issues that accompanied that.

Today, even though creativity is still a big part of my life and I put my energy into creating a supportive  learning environment at Animawarriors.com.  I do this by applying what I’ve learnt during my time, studying to be a therapist focused on personal growth and spiritual development.  ,. I’m also slowly starting my own practice to help others. Some of the following aspects I’ll be sharing here are the result of my own personal healing process but also approaches I believe will help others grow. 

1. Meditation and the cultivation of awareness.

The first issue we encounter that doesn’t help us to heal and resolve these issues we are talking about is the lack of awareness. Meaning that we don’t actually see or feel that “something” is going on with us – whatever it may be. 

We could get in deep and talk about the defensive mechanisms that keep us from seeing these issues , but I think this cute video will do a better job than me writing about it . Just so you know, The Theory of the defensive mechanisms was started by Sigmund Freud and it’s been developed and completed by some other schools in the past decades:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfeLzjqXemw

Anyways  whether you are “aware” or not , the very first recommendation I have is meditation. My personal recommendations on these are Vipassana , Zen and Transcendental Meditation – for those not spiritually inclined,  – and Dgozchen and Mahamudra for the spiritually inclined. However the point is, that you find a technique that makes it easy and feels right for you, since at least the beginning, starting a practice takes discipline and perseverance so, finding something that doesn’t require too much effort is key.

The benefits for meditation are vast  and widely scientifically proven. On top of this, if you are a creative person I recommend this specially since it will help you to observe and understand your creativity in a way that will be reflected positively in your art whatever this is.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S092549271000288X

http://www.feelguide.com/2014/11/19/harvard-unveils-mri-study-proving-meditation-literally-rebuilds-the-brains-gray-matter-in-8-weeks/

https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth#:~:text=Many%20studies%20have%20investigated%20meditation,may%20help%20people%20with%20insomnia.

https://www.headspace.com/science/meditation-benefits

https://www.mindfulnessstudies.com/mindfulness/evidence/?gclid=CjwKCAjw-e2EBhAhEiwAJI5jg02DSEdElUIEw57kmDrNjxO8XrD7rp_dQZ3uBcEPEAIAerydmBF4MRoCW_oQAvD_BwE

XrD7rp_dQZ3uBcEPEAIAerydmBF4MRoCW_oQAvD_BwE

2. Educate yourself. 

Quoting  Buddha:
“ The cause of all pain and suffering is ignorance” .

In my own experience , I can tell this particular aspect is  key to help me heal these issues we are talking about. Firstly, because when I burst into being burned out I practically didn’t know myself at all – the worst kind of ignorance one can have.  Secondly  because there have been many negative experiences inside myself that made me suffer that I didn’t know about and that the only way to overcome them was by learning about  them in books, talks and other people.

This includes also what I call “self study” or learning about yourself. When you decide to observe and find out how your internal experience works – to eventually to learn who you really are – and compare it to all the knowledge that is already out there , the possibilities for healing and improving your life quality becomes wide open..
For example : how does anxiety feel to you? Studies on anxiety have shown that this particular problem can be a conglomerate of several feelings, emotions and body pains and sensations.
https://www.psychologytools.com/self-help/anxiety/

So, for example in order to heal the anxiety in one person it would be ideal for this person to understand how anxiety manifests in his own particular experience. And this can create something that may not work for a completely different person that goes through similar anxiety symptoms.

That’s why I invite you to do your best to learn – from books, to podcasts, going to events… you must find your own way. Personally speaking two of the very good ways to educate yourself about yourself are the already mentioned meditation and also learning from somebody else – which takes me to the next point. 

3. Therapy is ok.

Apart from the lack of awareness, the unconscious defense mechanisms we use, another good reason why people don’t address these aspects is because of the stigma of therapy and the asking for help.

Some people associate asking for help and going to a therapist/psychologist with being mentally ill. And, as a part of the process of self education and self knowing ourselves, we should highlight that stress, anxiety and dealing with emotional trauma are very common human experiences that I would say almost everybody deals with. So do not worry: looking after your mental health doesn’t correlate to mental illness.  
Just try to see going to therapy as like when you decide to start a new life and bring healthy habits for your physical body : starting a diet, eating good and healthy foods only, doing regular exercise, sleeping around 8 hours, etc… The only difference is that instead of focusing on benefiting your body, therapy is for your mind and emotional health.

True, it will be painful at the beginning and at many times, but same as going back to jogging after years of not exercising : your whole body will hurt . The more you do it, the better you’ll feel, right? Well, same with therapy.

Finding a good therapist is similar also to finding your favourite meditation technique and learning method : find the one that feels right and good for you. You need to feel you can trust this person and be at ease with – so start by asking around, googling and take some time to explore the variety of psychologists, psychotherapist, body mind therapists, guides, coaches… and do interviews till you feel clearly “ This is the one “ . 

4. Communicating to your employers and closest families. 

Once you are aware that something is going on, communicating it to those closest to you  is a good idea – work relationships too, overall your bosses and supervisors. You don’t need to create a big  deal about it , just simply state that you are experiencing some symptoms of stress, anxiety or emotional struggle – this way you are helping yourself by creating a supporting environment.

So if you decide to start a meditation practice, after blocking out some 20 or 30 minutes a day, a good idea is to tell your family members that you’ll be practicing and kindly ask to not be disturbed . Also, if you decide to go to therapy, you can tell to your supervisors. 

Also, starting these kinds of conversations may lead to new arrangements and the way you relate to others in a positive way. For example when I decided to start attending therapy myself I talked to my bosses  about it and we opened a series of conversations that led into a new work scenario for me : I went from working 5 days a week, with occasional overtime and weekends to working 40 hours a week maximum. These helped to not just keep my work so I could pay for therapy, but also helped to create a better situation for me to heal.

This also goes hand in hand to what we already mentioned on clearing the stigma around asking for help and so. Luckily for us we live in a time in which self care is becoming key and accepted, so losing  the importance or the drama about this are important steps to take. 

  1. All you need is will.

The good news is that the power to heal these issues are in you. The bad news is that it is only in you. Meaning, there is no magic pill – unfortunately , or miracles work around them. No one will come and heal these for you – you have to do the work.  Otherwise we would live in a completely different world.

So, if I had to choose only one from all these recommendations, which one is the most important, I’d say it is our will power. Because without it we won’t go anywhere. Will power is the one that will make you sit every day in meditation, go and find the book you need about some issues you are having, or book a session with a good therapist. Will is the spark we all need to help us heal and eventually grow to a better life quality.

The secret to finding the will and applying is simple but tricky: it has to be a conscious and deliberate decision that only you can start. This means that it won’t be a spontaneous act that will come from no-where, and it won’t be something that you “feel like doing”. In most cases, you may feel you just don’t want to go to your next therapy session or want to sit in meditation – that is when you will have to apply will and remember that you are doing this for your own benefit and the benefit of those surrounding you.

For example, in those days when something especially stressful happens to me, it is kind of normal to feel a bit overtaken by the experience. This could make me feel I don’t want to sit and meditate, of course, cause I’m feeling stressed, but I immediately remember that precisely sitting in meditation or sitting in a self therapy process is exactly what is going to help me overcome this feeling I’m going through. So, even though “I don’t feel like doing it” I recognize the value of my practice consciously, and willingly I sit. 

_____________________________________________________________________________

To finish this up: Remember we all have to find our own way. I hope that with this post you get that this is an invitation to start your own process of self development and healing by also exploring the different ways, methods, modules of explanations or teachers/researchers/guides out there. Also, I think it’s fair to mention that in these kinds of conversations everything and nothing is valid , meaning : what works for me may not work for you. So keep  walking your path, but keep walking it : it will lead you to a brighter future.

Good luck!

By Jorge Vigara.

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