Q: Hi, I have a question related to creativity and anxiety. I’m an artist with an active and vivid imagination, and at times it works great for me. However, it can easily get out of hand with exaggerated and intense emotions related to life circumstances and people. Often times the circumstances aren’t really happening as I’m imagining them, and they are nowhere near as dire as my emotions would seem to indicate. Do you have any advice for artists and creative people who are more prone to this type of amped-up anxiety?
A: Thank you for reaching out! It makes sense that you would feel intense emotions as you create scenarios in your mind. What can be helpful with anxiety is to step away from those thoughts by reminding yourself that you are experiencing a heightened sense of stress — sometimes this reminder alone can put you in a different headspace.
To redirect your thoughts, try taking long, slow, deep breaths. Inhale for 6 seconds and exhale for 6 seconds, really paying attention to your breathing and trying to focus only on inhaling and exhaling. If you’re in the middle of a creative project, you might even try taking a break for five minutes or moving into a different environment.
There are also cognitive (thinking) skills for anxiety, like finding evidence that helps you recognize why your anxious thoughts aren’t reality (this is called thought challenging, or cognitive challenging).
We hope this helps, but please know that you can always reach out to schedule an appointment with a professional at Thriveworks that can dive into this more deeply with you!
Emily Simonian, M.A., LMFT