Disclaimer: Evergray supports both seeking professional help for anxiety, and exploring ideas such as the ones detailed below in order to find the best solution for each individual. The article below is only a personal story with ideas, and is not a substitute for mental health support.
The more that I got to know creative people and other artists, the more I saw how prevalent anxiety was between all of us. These had to be connected!
When initially doing some preliminary research on the link between anxiety and creativity - just to see what was already out there - I was pleasantly surprised: not only was my theory that they're intrinsically related seemingly true, but there was scientific evidence to back up that theory.
This is still a pretty new topic, so I had to dig around a bit, but multiple media sources have been discussing theories about the symbiotic relationship between creativity and mental health conditions like anxiety & depression for years, but finally - some scientific research cropped up, which you can read about here on Scientific American.
I've personally dealt with anxiety and depression since I was child. It's a mild to moderate case, ranging from nervous habits like teeth grinding and hair play to hypochondria to occasional panic attacks. Anxiety still gets to me sometimes, but I've gotten much, much better at spotting the signs before they get out of hand & I'm able to redirect it.
Coincidently, (so I once thought), I’ve always found creating to come naturally. Any sort of format for creating seems to be food for my soul, including illustration, watercolor, writing/blogging, graphic design, fashion design, web design, painting, scrapbooking – all of it. There’s a part of me that feels that – when done genuinely – art is the most important aspect of human evolution. (We're communicating subconsciously!)
Over the years, I’ve found that creativity and anxiety are both part of the same emotional process for me.
This emotional process is something that our imagination seems to go through every day. They’re two seemingly completely different emotions that are only separated by a thin barrier that I've found can actually be manipulated.
Our imagination conjures up and visualizes any task, project, or mental state before it happens. Before we create an awesome creative project - we visualize it. Before a panic attack – I always visualized doom and gloom. Even something as simple as a household chore sometimes gets visualized first.
Imagination is not just something that artists have – (almost) all humans have it – it’s just a matter of where we let that energy go. That energy can be funneled into so many things - work that drains us (versus creative projects that energize us), others’ wants and needs, consuming social media, or it can be dissipated into sleep or depression. (That's my current theory, at least.)
But if we learn to recognize this process, I believe that we're capable of consciously channeling our imagination energy – before it ever gets turned into debilitating anxiety – into more desirable by-products, like creative projects. And I believe this because I've done it - and still do it on a regular basis.
Maybe you can (or already do it) too!
*Remember, this is only an idea based on personal experiences that I've had - it may not be the same for you. It's better to speak to a licensed therapist if you're really struggling with anxiety.
Not sure which tasks to stay focused on in your creative business? Evergray has a Free Resources page here, & there's also The 7 Day Online Artist Plan here, which is an online course that eliminates distractions & gives you the blueprint for being an artist with a powerful online brand.