“Anxiety is essential for creativity.” –Soren Kierkegaard
Have you ever been stressed in your sleep?
Perhaps you tossed through a restless night of dreams, finding that, when you were most physically exhausted, you ended up “working hard” all night. Common anxiety dreams include arriving late to the airport (without a passport or luggage), laboring at work with frustrating results, arriving for a huge test and realizing you never did any prior homework or studying, or falling, being chased, or losing something.
Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worry, and physical changes like increased blood pressure. Whether you sense foreboding about the future or you’re responding to the trauma of the past, everyone deals with stress or anxiety sometimes.
And while most of us dread the pangs of anxiety, it can actually be a productive and inspiring muse.
Neuroscientist and author Joseph LeDoux called anxiety, “the price we pay for an ability to imagine the future.”
“That’s what anxiety is,” he told the New York State Writers Institute in 2016, “an imagination of a future that hasn’t happened yet, but that you are concerned with, worried about, dreading, and so on.”
If you find your worries sometimes kick into overdrive, remember that every artist is blessed with an active imagination, and your mental energy is something that can be harnessed for everything from your next poem to your solution for today’s biggest obstacles.
Want to conquer stress before it conquers you?
In his book, “Mastering Creative Anxiety,” creativity coach and psychologist Dr. Eric Maisel lays out 22 different anxiety management tools (enough that everyone can find at least one or two that may work well!).
Here are just three he recommends:
1. The simplest is to remember to breathe; a few deep cleansing breaths can do wonders for reducing anxiety.
2. The most important anxiety management tool is probably cognitive work, where you change the things you say to yourself, turning anxious thoughts into calmer, more productive thoughts.
Want ideas? Here is a free PDF from The Creative Independent on how artists deal with creative anxiety.
3. Creating a lifestyle that supports calmness is also very important: if the way you live your life produces a lot of anxiety, that’s a tremendous extra burden on your nervous system.
Many entrepreneurs believe that mastering professional anxiety involves focus.
While some things are beyond your control, worrying about these can make you crazy. Instead, focus on what is within your influence: like creativity, productivity, and strategic marketing. As you hit reset in your summer or fall season, now is the time to push ahead on new projects, get strategic about networking, or to establish self-care habits that maximize energy while inspiring great ideas.
While you can’t take the anxiety of life, you can see it for the positive aspects it brings. For example, the two characters that make up the Chinese word for crisis, when taken separately, mean “danger” and “opportunity.” We’ve all felt the alarm of the COVID-19 season, but now it’s time to embrace the opportunities and innovation this reset may bring.
Want to see some examples of how other businesses are approaching marketing at this time? Give us a call to chat about strategic print options!