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Creativity & Cancer

Inspire Health Event Calendar November 5, 2020

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way, things that I had no words for”. – Georgia O’Keeffe

There are some things that words cannot express. With curiosity and creativity, we can work to find new meanings, perspectives, and possibilities. Expressing ourselves creatively can help us revise, reframe and reimagine ourselves and our lives.

Creativity can also help us to process a cancer diagnosis.

Human beings have been using creativity to make sense of difficulty for as long as stories have been told. It is no surprise that more attention has been given to creative and expressive therapy for cancer patients in the past several years. Whether through visual arts, music, movement, or writing, creative expression has been encouraged and with positive results. Benefits of creativity can include decreased stress and anxiety as well as increased self-awareness, light-heartedness, calmness, empowerment and hope.

Many people associate creativity with making art and disregard their own ability to express themselves creatively if they cannot paint a portrait, write a sonnet, or sing in perfect pitch. For many people, barriers to expressing creativity exist in the form of fear, self-criticism, exhaustion, rigid thinking, negative beliefs (“I am not creative”) and guilt (“I should be doing something more productive”).

How do we soften these barriers in order to welcome more creativity in our lives?

As a first step, we can identify that a barrier exists. Naming a barrier allows us to get some distance and perspective. We can be curious as to where these barriers have come from. Perhaps it was a sibling who told us we couldn’t dance or a teacher who said we were better off humming than joining the class in song. Maybe it was a general sense we had or perhaps we were told that we were not a “creative type”, we were more an “athletic or academic (or other) type”.

The truth is that no matter what we are doing in life, whether making a meal, communicating with friends or family, dribbling a basketball, planting a garden, painting a picture, parenting our children, or asking for help, our brains are processing creatively all the time. When we become aware of this, we can more readily respect and feel compassion for ourselves and others and we may start to change our relationship to creativity. There are many ways that we are already living creatively.

We encourage taking a breath and taking a moment to acknowledge that living our lives is a creative process in and of itself. Each one of us is unique. Each breath that we take, every thought we think, every connection we make and every choice we make is a creative act.

For those who are inspired, here are some ways we can bring more creativity into our daily lives:

  • Listen to different types of music (top 20, classical, jazz, world).
  • Get creative in the kitchen, try a new recipe.
  • Rather than always listening to music while seated or lying down, we could move our body, dance or sing along.
  • Sing in the shower.
  • Look at art or watch what unfolds in the clouds.
  • Do some ‘stream of consciousness’ writing.
  • Send someone a note in the mail.
  • Write a favourite inspirational quote and post it on our mirror, fridge or wall where we can easily see it.
  • Bring some autumn leaves or other natural treasures inside to admire the colour and beauty.
  • When driving, take the scenic route and notice what different things you see.
  • Do something you loved to do in childhood (Swing? Fly a kite? Do puzzles? Draw with coloured markers?).

What would you add to this list? We want to hear! Join us on social media (Facebook and Instagram) with our Creativity post and share how creativity is a part of your life.