Bridging the Mental Health Gap for Creatives
Creatives tend to struggle with symptoms of mental health disorders, but there are a few ways to improve well-being and reduce stress while leading a creative life.
The 21st century has been one of the most exciting times for modern creation. However, with the rise of talent, ability and accessibility via social media, we have also seen the decline of mental health in creatives.
In a study by Albany State University, Christa Taylor explains that there is a link between creatives and mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder. While being creative does not go hand in hand with these mood disorders, those who are creative experience these problems more commonly.
Why Creatives Are Prone to Mental Health Disorders
Creatives find the problems in the world and solve them. Digital Project Designer Tanner Christensen claims that creatives “make sense of and connect the small details of everything we experience, the good and the bad.”
One key component of creativity is rumination, which is the act of being in deep thought. This makes it more difficult to move on from stressful events. As a result of focusing on these thoughts, immense depression or a feeling of hopelessness emerges. These traits make depressive states longer-lasting and more intense.
However, once the depressive state has lifted, creatives report more productivity. According to Science Writer Alex Fradera, it is “similar to the aspects of the ‘flow state’ — extended bursts of activity, disregarding the need for sleep or food, absorption or attentional wandering, rapidly flowing thoughts.”
Ways to Protect Your Mental Health as a Creative
As a creative, you can bolster your mental health by making sure to:
- Meditate: Taking a moment to pray or meditate can help you gain a new perspective on stressful situations. During this time, you develop skills that help you manage your stress by being forced to focus on the present. Spending a few moments with your thoughts gives you an attitude of gratitude and a sense of calmness while reducing negative emotions.
- Exercise and eat a good diet: The amount of exercise we get and the foods we eat directly affect our well-being. Getting 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week helps to boost energy, improve mood and combat health conditions and diseases. Staying away from greasy and fattening foods also helps decrease the risk of chronic diseases and assists in stress management.
- Build meaningful relationships: Creatives often feel guilty for socializing, as they feel that time could be spent practicing their craft. Meaningful relationships build self-esteem, and positive interactions with others lead to personal growth and development.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol: Many creatives turn to drugs or alcohol to feel better about their struggles. Both of these responses are dangerous because they can make disorders worse. Using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate does more harm than good. The “high” from these items only lasts a little while; afterward, the struggles are worse.
- Keep a schedule: Being organized with a schedule establishes a routine. It also relaxes you, as it creates less work and more accomplishments. Following a strict schedule minimizes distraction and improves proficiency. You are also less likely to feel overwhelmed.
- Take breaks: Many creatives work through their lunch break, stay up into the wee hours of the morning or obsessively look for a solution to a problem. Constant breaks and a normal sleep schedule can increase productivity and reduce burnout.
- Practice: Practicing on a regular schedule will constantly remind you of your purpose and why you became a creative in the first place. Also, the increased mastery of certain skills in your creative field will increase confidence and reduce stress in performance situations.
Hawkins, James; et al. “Here’s What the Evidence Shows about the Links between Creativity and Depression.” The British Psychological Society, August 28, 2018. Accessed August 22, 2020.
Christensen, Tanner. “The Link between Depression and Creativity, and How It Can Be Good for You.” Creative Something, July 15 2013. Accessed August 22, 2020.
Mayo Clinic. “Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress.” April 22, 2020. Accessed August 22, 2020.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Benefits of Physical Activity.” August 2019. Accessed August 22, 2020.
Mintz, Steven. “Do You Have Meaningful Relationships in Your Life?” Ethics Sage, January 8, 2019. Accessed August 22, 2020.