Meditation and yoga are great ways to relax and clear your mind, but sometimes you want to try something new and flex some different mental muscles. Here are 4 ways to clear your mind while getting creative at the same time:
I have absolutely no artistic talent, but I still find painting to be really relaxing. There’s just something about spreading paint on a canvas that forces you to slow down. A similar feeling can probably come from drawing or sketching, but I think there’s something about paint and it’s semi-permanence. Once it’s there, it’s there. You can cover it up later, but there’s no erase or undo button. Learning to literally let go of your mistakes in that way is oddly liberating. It’s not about creating something beautiful, it’s about the process of creating it.
I originally picked up journaling when I was 15 and having issues with depression. My number one symptom was spiraling, repetitive thoughts that wouldn’t let me think about anything else. Not bad thoughts, necessarily, just thoughts about life and the universe that kept bouncing around in my head. I started a journal as a way to get those thoughts out of my head and onto paper so I could think about something else, and it really helped. Some people’s diaries are in-depth chronicles of their daily lives, but I try to keep my journal less rigid. I try to just write about whatever I’ve been thinking about lately, with a healthy dose of pasted-in ticket stubs, sketches, and lists. My suggestion to journaling newbies is to be authentic. Don’t worry about how things sound or if what you’re writing about is interesting. Just tell your truth.
3. Play an instrument
I play guitar, but whatever you like to noodle around with is great. The guitar is great because it can be soft and soothing or loud and cathartic, so no matter how you’re feeling you get it out. There’s something really calming about looking up the tabs or chords to a new song and slowly working my way up to playing it all the way through. Sometimes I’ll write my own songs, or I’ll just find a chord progression I like and play it on repeat. When I’m done with a practice session, I get the same feeling as when I’m finished with a meditation session; calm, clear, with everything a little bit brighter. Except maybe my fingers might hurt a little bit!
“Dance like nobody’s watching” is one of those things that people say, but nobody ever does. Mostly because dancing tends to be a social activity and it’s almost impossible to pretend that nobody’s watching when there are people watching. I don’t dance like nobody’s watching. I dance when nobody’s watching, which is entirely different. For non-dancers and the terminally self-conscious and un-graceful like myself, dancing alone is a really strange exercise in physical liberation. You don’t realize how much of the time we humans spend trying to be as normal as possible until you actually try to be weird. I’m not generally used to moving my hips, for instance. I don’t really have hips, I have love handles that I usually do everything possible to not move. But dancing, wiggling, and moving muscles that I don’t usually move at all is a strangely difficult process. It takes a lot of focus to clear your mind of all of your subconscious self-correcting. Don’t think about how goofy you look, just do it!
These methods aren’t going to work for everybody, but I’m always happiest when I feel like I’ve been productive. Undertaking a creative activity, like writing or playing music, makes me feel accomplished and also relaxed. Next time you feel like you need to let go and clear your mind, give one of these activities a try!
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.