I struggle with anxiety. I have most of my life. I have been able to find balance with it on a daily and weekly basis, and while I am able to function and even move forward, the impact of it in the moment is massive and heavy most days. I choose to find my own way through this jungle, as opposed to a pharmaceutical route, and have developed a number of coping mechanisms. But, as I get older I continue to seek more solutions, and as I roll over 50 years of age I think I have found the most effective tool in my toolbox–creativity. Through lots of journaling, I have been able to identify that most of my anxiety comes from a lack of creativity and nourishment in my days due to work, life, and the world around me.
Let’s see if I can articulate what I am seeing in my head. My anxiety is directly proportionate to the lack of creativity and investment in the human Kin each day. The more I work. The more time I spend online. The more anxiety I have. The more creative I am. The more writing I do. The more art I make. The more books I read. The less anxiety I have. I have weeks, and even years that my anxiety is light. These are the times where I spend the majority of my days telling stories and nourishing my brain and body with creative endeavors. The times my anxiety hits me the hardest are the times I neglect giving myself evenings and weekends, and I invest all of my energy in my work and career, which also involves spending a great deal of time online, outside of the physical realm.
It is so easy to neglect oneself in todays’ busy world. In recent years I have spent a lot of time analyzing my work ethic, career trajectory, and the impact capitalism has on my health and well-being. I am successful by all financial measures. I am no longer living in poverty, and have an extremely well paid job at the top of my field of work. However, with this success my anxiety on a weekly level has increased. However, along with this success I have managed to keep reading, writing, making art, and nourishing my creative side. Granted, I am not doing it to the levels I would like, but it is still there, providing me with the ability to better understand my anxiety, and increase or decrease my dosage of creativity to better manage my anxiety. Through simple experiments, it is clear that creative nourishment is what is missing when it comes to my ongoing anxiety.
The trick now is to properly administer the right dosage of creativity that keeps me on track with my anxiety. It can be hard to remember to be creative in a busy day of work. With a lot of responsibility and work on my plate, it is easy for the day to get away from me. In some cases it is easy to let the week get away from me, and steal my weekends from me. I am getting better at remembering to think about the stories I want to tell instead of whatever work deadline is looming. I find it level setting to pick up a physical book rather than try to read something online. I find it nourishing to get lost in painting or working on the variety of art projects I have going at any single moment. While I would rather spend my days immersed in my stories, art, and reading, but with the realities of rent, utilities, and my other bills, it is about striking a balance that properly manages my anxiety so I can not just get through the day or week, but I actually can look in the mirror and smile.