A lot of my private clients have mentioned to me that even though I share so many useful tools and ideas to the world, there is one powerful thing that I use with my clients who are feeling overwhelmed that I haven’t ever shared. After hearing this from clients over and over, I realized that they were onto something so I want to start doing something a little different over the coming months and share with you my tried and true methods for reducing stress with creativity.
If you have followed me for a while, you probably know that I am an artist and I cannot tell you enough how effective creativity can be when I need to let go of all of the craziness in my life. This first exercise that I want to share with you can really allow you to reduce your stress. When I am stuck in a rut, I always return to this creative exercise to reclaim a sense of calm. I am going to explain how I go about starting this exercise, but I encourage you to customize the process to you. You can watch the video above to see what this exercise actually looks like.
When I feel myself slipping into an overwhelmed state of mind, I will start my creative stress reduction practice by grabbing a piece of paper and marbling it. Marbling can be a complicated process so you do not have to do this step. Marbling consists of putting ink in water and then placing a blank piece of paper on the water’s surface and then the paper pulls back these gray areas from the ink, resembling a piece of marble. For me, I like to do this because these areas feel symbolic to me. They represent all of the extenuating circumstances in life. We are all dealt our own hand of circumstances that are beyond our control and I like to think this marbling process brings that to life on the page. From this page, I begin to think about how I am really feeling in the moment. This is when we go to the next step: scribbling!
If you do not want to try marbling, you can do the rest of this exercise with any kind of paper you want. You can use paper that’s old and discolored, paper with dots all over it, or just plain blank paper. I take my piece of marbled paper and begin to draw how I am feeling in the moment. What does this look like? This doesn’t mean I draw a sad self portrait or create an elaborate drawing. I listen to all of my emotionally exhausted feelings and thoughts and I scribble on the page. We are trying to draw the essence of the emotions we are feeling in this moment. Maybe your emotional exhaustion looks like a flat line, or maybe it feels more like a frustrated zig-zagging pattern. Whatever feeling you have, try to express it in an abstract way and let out all of that emotional energy onto the page. This part of the exercise is all about emotional release so you can do this for as long as you need to.
Next, we are going to be more meditative in this exercise. What I like to do next is take my piece of paper and I begin to highlight and go over the lines I have drawn in fine print markers. You can do this in any way you’d like with whatever materials you want. Shapes and areas in the scribbles and the marbling or design of the paper will begin to pop out and by highlighting these areas in marker, I am symbolically pulling out the things in my life that do or don’t serve me. This part of the exercise gives you the space to meditate on the benefits of life and the emotions that have come up as you continue to express yourself on the page.
The longer you do this exercise, the more you will see all of the energy and emotion you put into it. This exercise is all about being present with this manifestation of your emotion. You do not need to judge anything that comes out of you, simply let everything out on the page and be with it. Over time, you will start feeling that overwhelm, stress and anxiety dissipate. The more time you spend with the emotions you've drawn, the more peace you will find you feel from within you. If you're craving a sense of ease, calm or just a clear state of mind try it out, scribble out your emotions and draw back into them. I promise you'll feel much better afterwards.
If you have been feeling so overwhelmed by stress at work, you can check out the free 5 minute morning meditation that I have created for you here. You can also sign up for a complimentary clarity session with me here. Together, we will discuss where you’re at, where you’re going, what’s getting in the way and create a clear plan for you to find the work you love that doesn’t leave you burnt out every day!