Using art and creativity as touchstones to overcome depression and anxiety

It’s about intentional creativity + productivity and balancing time away from art

On this episode of The Art With Soul Podcast, I open up about my struggles with depression and anxiety, and share some of the ways in which my creative practice serves as a touchstone to help me overcome depression and anxiety. I talk about the importance – for me – of feeling a sense of agency against the darkness of depression, and how I find a balance between remaining creative and giving myself the space to just be without pushing or striving to overcome, and how that has made a big difference in my struggle with depression.

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After hitting publish on the previous podcast, where I spoke about time management for artists, I got to thinking more deeply about these times we are living in. Many countries have gone into second and even third lockdowns; if you hold down a corporate job, chances are that you have been working largely from home since over a year; things are still uncertain, with no real clarity on how or when things will go back to normal. I sometimes wonder if we will ever go back to normal! And there’s no telling what the new normal will be like.

All of this continued uncertainty could lead to a certain level of fatigue or low-lying anxiety, which can impact your sense of wellbeing and your decision-making ability, and could leak in to how you show up for your creative practices as well. I’m sharing some of the ways in which I navigate through my depression and anxiety in the hope that it may help you not just in these unusual times, but any time that you’re feeling overwhelmed or depressed or anxious.

Disclaimer: None of what I’m sharing here is a replacement for therapy or medication if you need that. These are just some of the strategies that have helped me.

As someone who suffers from depression, I’ve often felt the wings of sadness weigh down on me. There are times when just showing up in the studio and having a sense of control over my time has helped me to shift my mood. But there have been periods when the darkness of depression has expressed itself in a feeling of emotional numbness that nothing has been able to penetrate.

I have still showed up in the studio at such times. And while I can push paint around a canvas, the feedback that I look for from my art – which is kind of like listening to what the painting wants to become and drawing that out – is missing. And that can make the numbness feel worse.

But on the other end of the spectrum, if I simply don’t show up to the painty table, if I give in to the weight of the numbness, I can go for weeks lost in a haze of darkness. What I have realized is that showing up for my creativity in some form has been an important part of my toolkit to fight depression. As has allowing myself to just not have to deal with anything that feels like ‘too much’. And some days, painting feels like too much.

Tune in to hear about:

  • The importance of a regular creative practice
  • Balancing time away from art with showing up to the studio + a super simple way to track your art time
  • What to do when you don’t feel like creating
  • Painting your feelings to move your depression/anxiety through you
  • A simple journaling technique for the times when you have no words
  • The importance of intentional productivity + maintaining a sense of agency over your depression

Previous episodes referenced in the podcast:

How to create a regular art practice

Living a creative life

Time management for artists

I hope that listening to the ways in which I use my art and creative practices to overcome depression will help you to navigate not only through these unusual times, but any time that you find yourself grappling with anxiety, depression, or overwhelm. If you have any questions on anything I’ve shared or want to talk through any of this, and are not comfortable leaving a comment below, please direct message me on Instagram at moderngypsy.in.

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Posted in The Art with Soul Podcast.

I’m an artist and art educator, podcaster, tarot reader, and writer. I share my discoveries along the path to inspire you to live a more creative, soul-centered life. Receive my love letters for more of my musings on life and creativity. P.S. I love Instagram - join me there?

6 Comments

  1. I have recently come to realize a great way of getting out of my head is to use my hands to do something – whether doodling, cooking or even cleaning 🙂

  2. this is a really great episode! I can relate, there are times I turn to art when I am feeling nervous or confused.it gives me a place to put that feeling somewhere.Often collage really helps me when I am feeling heaviness with the current times.the act of tearing paper instead of cutting feels quite liberating

  3. Hi, nice article, Art is a great therapy. I turn to writing when I feel low. Sometimes I find art can pull the artist into a deep brooding. To shake that off, I go out for long walks, nature is a blessing that can spark creativity.

    • I agree that writing can be helpful when you feel low. Sometimes, though, I’ve written myself deeper into brooding, so I get your point on how art may pull the artist into deeper brooding. Long walks almost always help with everything!

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