I was in New York City when the metropolis first shut down as a result of the hastened spread of COVID-19. As museums, restaurants and even Broadway theaters began shuttering their doors, it became quite clear to me that life, as I knew it, was about to change.
I anticipated the restrictions – the things I’d no longer be permitted to do, the situations and the activities that would now not be possible. What I didn’t expect was that these drastic new changes would make other things achievable; that by removing or rearranging certain components of our lives would make space for something else.
When watching the news, scrolling through social media or chatting with friends and family, I can very clearly see pain, grief and loss. But simultaneously, there’s also new growth and life. If anything, the past couple months have taught me that quarantine can be a profoundly productive space. Confined to the walls of our homes, we are granted the autonomy to envision new possibilities, to experiment without limitation or judgement, and to create to our heart’s desire.
I’ve also learned that creativity is not a means to make one happier, healthier or even more productive. (Though it certainly can do those things, too.) Creativity is more about reminding yourself what is possible – and what your imagination is capable of.
Here are a few of my favorite practices for cultivating creativity:
Practice mindfulness: If you have always wanted to pursue a creative dream, or create with words or paint or an instrument, practicing mindfulness will enable you to improve your attention and focus. After all, this is what being an artist is all about – learning to pay attention. I use the Headspace app for guided meditation, but also enjoy active or moving practices such as tea meditation to switch gears when stress builds and return to the here and now.
Journal: Even if it’s just for five or 10 minutes a day, scribbling down my feelings (and knowing no one else has to see my words) helps me process my thoughts and get in touch with my own creativity. I like to switch things up a bit: some days I’ll free-write a couple pages, other days when I’m feeling I need a bit more direction, I use writing prompts to self-reflect.
Visit a new place: I’m a firm believer that our surroundings directly influence how we think, act and create. If you’re feeling like you’re in a rut, visit a new place. Travel is great, but during these times, even a walk around your neighborhood or a picnic in the park can be enough to cultivate creativity. Get out, get moving and get those creative juices flowing.
Make your own tea blend: Concocting new tea blends reconnects me to my senses and reminds me of the beauty of the world around me. There’s no right or wrong way to this, just an intuitive draw to the aromas and flavors that inspire me. Pull from your spice cabinet or herb garden, and experiment with blending these ingredients with your favorite tea! In fact, making anything with your hands is a great way to flex your creativity muscles.
Make a playlist: Just as place can be influential in sparking creativity, so, too, can music. Decide what feeling, memory or mood you want to arouse and arrange your playlist accordingly. You might even consider sharing it with a friend in need of a bit of inspiration.