Creativity has a powerful impact on health and well-being. The physiological, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual processes that underlie a creative act can foster feelings of connectedness, vitality, and a renewed sense of well-being.
The National Wellness Institute defines Wellness as an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.
Krystal Paige Creative Wellness sets out to help clients accomplish improved states of Wellness through understanding and applying creativity principles, creative practices, and creative solutions to aid in making choices toward a more successful, satisfying life experience.
An integral part of Creative Wellness are play, curiosity, and imagination.
Creative Wellness is a study in which our health and creativity exist symbiotically and in harmony through practices like daily journaling, mindfulness, meditation, visualization, physical activity, sleep training, hydration, emotional intelligence training, creative goal-setting, and creative lifestyle transformation solutions. Practical daily "clarity" practices and routines improve emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health in our personal and professional lives, where all of our systems (mind, body, soul, and spirit) are harmonized and functioning optimally. Think of this as a practical, realistic method to living a mindful lifestyle that is flexible, joyful, and life-giving.
This article explores Creative Wellness practices: intentional breath, body posture/ movement, nutrition, sleep, meditation, and mindfulness.
When we establish a sound and structured system of personal care routines and health habits, we don't have to work as hard to integrate our creativity. We don't have to find ourselves racking our brains to find the right strategy for our business. We don't have to find ourselves cramping up when we have to focus on a specific project or close the deal or do whatever we're doing. We can just enjoy the moment and enjoy the expansiveness when we are engaged fully with our craft. Our health can become so abundant when we approach our personal care routines with a creative mindset. This helps us avoid the pitfalls of feelings of failure, or shame or feeling like we're falling off the wagon, and then we have to work so hard to bring back on and just brings so much more lightness to an otherwise, kind of heavy, and potentially triggering topic of taking care of ourselves. From that place, we can really truly thrive.
The concept of Creative Wellness doesn't have to be overwhelming to adapt and practice. Just continue reading, and you will discover that what you do every day is part of this, but the difference between what you do and this concept is BEING INTENTIONAL, at all times.
You can start your creative wellness journey when you bring mindfulness to your BREATH.
Wherever you are right now, just notice the air coming in and out of your body. Notice the quality of your breath. If it's shallow, if it's full, if it's happy, uneven, or steady. There's no judgment, and there's no right or wrong. Just breathe in and breathe out. You are just practicing a holistic way of wellbeing through mindfulness by being attentive to your breath.
When breathing, notice the part of your body moving. Examine what you feel. You are engaging your "attention muscles," as I like to call it. This vital and accessible practice can be used moment, whether you're in the midst of it or at work or you're in the middle of the meeting room or in a conversation. Rather than thinking intellectually about what you're doing, see if you can just take a back seat and bring awareness to your breath, and you'll be so amazed at how that centers your focus and really allows you to kind of listen to your mind and your body.
When we bring our awareness of our breath, we also become more aware of our thought process. (Like how often do we think of our thoughts, right? Like there is just running through our brains and our minds all the time. Right?) But, with mindful breathing, you will begin to notice that the thoughts that are coming up, maybe there's questions, maybe there is negative self-talk, maybe there are even perfect ideas that come to the surface, for you to then become aware of, then you can then start to observe those thoughts and either redirect them to a more positive constructive place, or you can explore them a little bit deeper. So, I really encourage you to try this on your own time and see if you can engage this practice during your creative process, as well. Even while cooking, washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, or some other task that is boring or not creative at all, see what comes up for you and see what kind of experience you have if that changes when you start to become more aware of your breath.
Expert advice: every time you're feeling anxious, overwhelmed, spinning your gears, running to a wall, or everything you're facing a problem and trying to figure out things to solve it, just take a moment, take a pause, and take a deep breath and just practice breathing mindfully, lovely, whole, nourishing breath, and sending oxygen to your blood cells and your brain. Just do it for a minute or two. It doesn't need to take much for you to access the different parts of your nervous system that would open up more neuro pathways for you to achieve something you want to achieve.
Sometimes, when we are just trying so hard to strive daily, we are counter-productive because we are exhausting our resources. And sometimes, all we need is to sit back, take a break for a second, and reconnect with our breath and higher being.
If you do this practice, your intuition sometimes tells your mind and body to do something like go for a walk, in nature or just take a pause from your screens and anything that you reset your sanity to a place that you can a little bit organic, that you can just be YOU and let fresh energy flow.
But another aspect to think about our body is your posture and movement.
We often don't think about our bodies in terms of alignment and posture. Especially if you are sitting at your desk all day. If you are sitting, slouching over a keyboard, your physical breathing mechanism can't move as much as when you're sitting or standing with good posture.
We don't really think about these things, but it's so important and affects our ability to perform and engage in our own creativity.
It's incredible how much longevity and sustainability you can get from basic movements if dedicated to it. You don't have to do 2 hours of working out, running, or yoga every single day if you just engage with being mindful of your posture and movements, even when you're lying in a couch or in bed.
In fact, "10 days without fitness can cause our brains to start losing cognitive function," says Celina Nadelman, MD, a board-certified cytopathologist and fine needle specialist.
If you do at least 10-15 minutes of body movement every day, you will be amazed at what that does for your mental clarity and physical ability to perform and create your craft. I really encourage you to focus on your physical body and how it moves when you're sitting down, standing up, or doing any physical activity. Pay attention to the quality of your movement. The more we become the observer of the sensation or discomfort in our body, the more empowered we become and the more capable we feel to be an owner of our circumstances rather than the victim. The more connected we become mentally to the body, the more spiritually connected we impact the world. Movement is awe-inspiring, isn't it?
"The body influences how you think, and that what you are experiencing physically can influence your style of thought."
Getting outside of your comfort zone and pushing your physical limitations every single day, one movement at a time, even if it's short, simple, and easy, will help your overall creativity and boost your Wellness in the long run, and that could only be achieved through MINDFULNESS. And remember, when you're practicing mindfulness, you are COACHING YOURSELF. Listen and honor your body. This can be super beneficial for our Creative Wellness if we learn to develop this relationship with our body.
RELATED: If you want to level up your body movement through a POSITIVITY PRACTICE, go to my "COACHING MYSELF MINI-COURSE" to get a copy of this intentional post-it checklist that you can post, stick and grab wherever you are and wherever you go.
Your body houses and cultivates your Creative Wellness, and nutrition is an essential aspect of that.
We eat food, and we drink liquids. Some are healthy eaters, some eat for optimal functioning, and some eat for pleasure. No matter what approach you take for your eating consumption habits, it's essential to be aware of your nutrition. Our brain operates on fat, our muscle operates on protein, and our energy operates on carbohydrates. The quality of nutrition you put in your body affects your ultimate performance.
The award-winning psychologist, Ron Friedman, explains in one of his articles for Harvard Business Review how "food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance, which is why a poor decision at lunch can derail an entire afternoon."
Have you ever noticed, when you eat a heavy fast-food meal, you start to feel sluggish? Well, your body uses more energy to digest that greasy meal. Your cognitive function declines as your body sends energy to your gut to focus on digestion. Enter afternoon brain fog. Be aware of your daily nutrition. You'll be amazed at just how much you'll learn and notice that the types of foods and liquids that you put in your body and what kind of effects they have on your mental and physical being and your ability to be creative. Just take this approach that your digestion is the core of your nutrition, and your food affects your Creative Wellness.
Dr. Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, a professor in the Departments of Neurosurgery and Integrative Biology and Physiology at UCLA, says that "Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain," he said; in an interview after the study was published."
Another critical factor in boosting our Creative Wellness is SLEEP. How much sleep do you actually need to have a high cognitive function? 7-10 hours for most adults.
Lots of research supports the idea that sleep boosts creativity. For example, in one study by Wagner and colleagues, participants were given a challenging and time-consuming number task. However, the participants didn't know that there was a hidden secret strategy built into the job, and if they figured it out, it would significantly speed up their progress. All participants were introduced to the study, and some were allowed eight hours of sleep while others were kept awake. After the eight hours had passed, participants resumed working on the task. The results showed that 60 percent of the sleep group discovered the hidden strategy compared to 23 percent of the wake group.
Some feel productive during the night and others during the day, but we cannot sacrifice sleep to improve our creativity.
You can burn the midnight oil and skip a night of sleep, but on the next day, you're so tired and slow, and you feel like you want to just sleep and spend the whole day resting. So, if you can, find a time to sleep with an exact time consistently.
Encouraging a regular healthy nights' sleep will also help you think more clearly and aid memory, making creativity come more easily.
In his book on writing, A Memoir of the Craft, author Stephen King promotes the virtues of what he calls 'creative sleep. King says that "a regular sleep pattern can encourage our wakeful minds to unlock the eight – you can train your waking mind to sleep creatively and work out vividly imagined waking dreams, which are successful works of fiction."
If you're having a problem with sleep, turn off that TV and stop scrolling on your phone. Try reading or do some meditation.
A study published a few years ago in JAMA Internal Medicine included 49 middle-aged and older adults who had trouble sleeping. Half completed a mindfulness awareness program that taught them meditation and other exercises designed to help them focus on "moment-by-moment experiences, thoughts, and emotions." The other half completed a sleep education class that taught them ways to improve their sleep habits.
Related: If you want to improve your sleep and boost your creativity, listen to my FREE monthly Guided Meditation, and you can subscribe to get the monthly recording straight to your inbox.
In conclusion, Creative Wellness is linked with MINDFULNESS. You just have to pay attention to everything in front of you, such as your breathing, posture or movement, nutrition, sleep quality, and a kind of mindfulness meditation to optimize your creative process.
Once we tap into these practical mindful habits, we can drill down into the essence of Creative Wellness which lies in the quality of our thoughts and thought patterns. The ultimate goal of the Creative Wellness movement is to improve positive, productive thoughts and eliminate negative, unproductive thinking that creates dissatisfaction with our lives.
RELATED: Read my recent blog about the importance of mindfulness in your life if you want to learn how you can access it right now.