If you’re like me, you feel the need to create deep within your soul. That generally looks like writing for me, but for you that could also be knitting, drawing, painting, singing, or some other form of creativity. But for the millions of people who live with chronic pain or other chronic health problems, actually creating can be difficult. Whether it’s pain or fatigue or something else entirely, health issues can make creating difficult. Over the 16 years that I’ve been in pain, I’ve done my best to structure my life in ways that enable me to create. These are the things that I do to make creating possible even when I don’t feel well.
Cut yourself some slack – First and foremost, give yourself a break. I mean this both figuratively and literally. Taking breaks is more important when you have health issues than it is for those who don’t, but you also need to acknowledge that things aren’t going to be as straight forward as they are for people without health problems. It might be more difficult for you to meet deadlines, especially if you’re still getting the hang of any limitations you might have. Additionally, flares, hospitalizations, injuries, illness, etc., are all more likely if you have an underlying health problem. You need to recognize that you might not make as much progress as you want because of your health, and that’s okay. Also, you need to take care of yourself so the aforementioned problems don’t happen (if you have any control over them).
Schedule creative sessions – Put it into your calendar like it’s an appointment if you have the time. Don’t schedule things during that time – unless you have a doctor’s appointment or a family gathering, of course – so you can make sure that you are able to create. This is helpful for most creative people, but it is especially so if you have health problems and don’t always know if you can have the time or energy. Schedule it when you are most likely to be able to complete it; for me, this is the morning. That way you are guaranteed to make it happen.
Try different types of creative expression – Maybe your preferred method isn’t going to work for a period of time or maybe you need to give certain parts of your body a break. In those situations, find something else so you can still create like your soul needs. This can also help if you’re hitting a block of some kind, like a writer’s block. One of the ways I do this is actually through this blog. My preferred method is writing, mostly writing books. In my case, I don’t really have the time or energy to work on my novel(s) during the school year, so I write this blog. This way, I’m still writing, but in much shorter methods. Additionally, it helps prevent me from having writer’s block because I’m doing a different type of writing here than I am when I’m writing a book.
Connect with other creatives – Know what’s really fun? Hanging out (virtually or in-person) with people who like the same things you do! It’s even more fun when they get your passions, like your passion for creating. There are a lot of creative people online, so you can search for writers, artists, singers, etc., on social media. Additionally, look for free or cheap workshops in your area. That way you can improve your skills and hang out with people who like what you like.
Learn more about your favorite mode of creativity – If you don’t always feel great, spend the time when you don’t feel awesome learning. Read blogs, read or listen to books, watch YouTube videos, listen to podcasts, etc. There are lots of ways for you to learn, and that way you can feel connected your interest even when you can’t create.
Set goals and figure out what you need to do to achieve them – As with all projects, set attainable goals. That just might mean something different if you health problems than it does for those who don’t. What it is you want to achieve? When you want to achieve it by? Then, figure out what you need to do in order to meet that goal. I firmly believe that in order to meet your goals, you need a plan (also, I like plans). Make smaller goals, figure out how you can meet those, etc. It’s all doable, but remember: if your health is anything like mine, it can be unpredictable, so cut yourself some slack.
What are your tips for managing your creativity when you have health issues?
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