Delving into a creative pursuit—or simply feasting your senses on colors, textures, and sounds—can soothe pain, whether from loss, relationship or health problems, or simple stress. New creative activities—mosaics and hand-drumming, to name two—have helped me; I’m convinced that more mindful creativity can help you, too.
Let painful emotions escape
When you focus on expressing tough emotions through a creative act, instead of merely feeling (or stuffing) them, they weigh less. Photography is one easy way. This online grief photography class goes deep, but grief is just one emotion you can put into images in just a half-hour or so.
Try it: Spend an hour outside snapping images (or colors, or shapes) that seem to capture your anger, frustration, or other pain. Focusing on an image allows you to feel the emotion while displacing its intensity in a healthy way.
Pounding a hammer can be similarly therapeutic. Knock together a garden fence or rustic bird-feeder while you’re at it.
By focusing on creation, on shape and order and beauty, we connect to something greater, at least temporarily. This sensation is called flow.
People in flow lose track of time and their problems, stepping outside of themselves and their pain. You don’t have to be an artist or athletes—anyone who focuses intensely on an activity they enjoy can find flow. It provides energy, clarity, and endurance we wouldn’t otherwise have.
Find a creative pastime that absorbs your attention. It’ll absorb your pain, too. Start small. You don’t have to learn a new skill, though once you get started, you may want to. Here are a few ideas; pick one that appeals and try it! Or follow your own creative longing.