According to a review in the Behavioral Sciences Journal, stress is the most prevalent health risk. With stress being an overwhelming risk for multiple health conditions, including relapse, effective coping strategies are imperative. Many people think of mindfulness, exercise, and therapy as essential methods for stress reduction. However, having a creative outlet is another way to deal with stress and mood dysfunction, which leads to burnout, fatigue, and possible relapse.
What Does Creative Coping Look Like?
Creative coping can take many forms. Writing, dance, drama/theatre, music, or art are all forms of creative coping. As you enter into therapy or are focusing on recovery on your own, having a creative outlet can be very therapeutic and beneficial to your recovery process. Scientists have discovered struggles with mental well-being can lead to greater creativity. Negative emotions can feed your imagination, enabling you to problem solve and meet your specific needs. Creative coping is incredibly effective for the recovery process. Using your negative emotions to create is one way to eradicate behaviors associated with the use of alcohol and/or other substances.
Why Does Creativity Work in Recovery?
There are many methods of creative coping. Many of these methods are nonverbal and connect you with the emotions you cannot easily express.
Through dance and music, you are engaging your body in reflection of your experiences. You are also releasing those emotions through movement. With dance and music, you are practicing flexibility with your feelings.
If you were to use art as a medium for expressing your emotions, you would find your work to be influenced by those unspoken emotions. Using art transcribes your experience into something tangible and visible. Your feelings do not have to be under the surface.
Creative coping allows you to fully immerse yourself in your experiences and identify what you are feeling. When you can identify your feelings, you can learn how to move forward in your life. Creativity improves your feelings of self-worth and ability to problem solve when you allow yourself to think “outside the box.” Thinking “outside the box” does not always involve art or music but might be entirely inside the privacy of your mind. You might imagine a new situation or plot out a method for dealing with troublesome situations, practicing coping in your own way.
There Is Always a Way to Cope
Coping without the use of alcohol and/or other substances may feel foreign in the beginning stages of recovery, especially when you are facing the world and all of the stressors in your life. Returning to the real world after treatment provides you with increased stress, and you may feel unable to cope. The moments of frustration and struggle require you to find new ways of coping. Remember that effective coping is different for everyone and varies for each situation.
Being creative through dance, movement, art, music, and writing are just a few creative coping methods. Your coping may involve fishing and imagining yourself away from the problems. You may need to take a walk or go for a hike to help you manage. There are a myriad of ways to cope. Do not confine yourself to a simple list. Branch out and learn what works best for you.
Communication in Creative Coping
We often overlook the importance of communicating our struggles with others. When you use creative coping, you are sharing feelings you may not be able to verbalize with others. When you are down and singing the blues, you are explaining to others that you are struggling. If your artwork shows your mood through its hues of color, you communicate the pain you have endured and overcome.
Researchers have examined the role of mental illness and substance use in creativity and found that many creative communicators have suffered from comorbid conditions and self-medicated with the use of alcohol and/or other substances. Some overcame their conditions with their creativity and experienced hope and release, moving into successful creative careers.
Develop Unique Coping Skills
Creative coping has been examined by many universities and doctors, showing creativity to be an incredible method of overcoming obstacles in our lives. We write to share our stories and help others learn. Music shares experiences, bringing us together in shared joy and sorrow.
Creative coping does not always appear as artistic. Sometimes, doing math in your head while avoiding panic in a social situation is more effective than singing a song. Finding creative coping strategies is a result of your willingness to focus on your needs.
If playing music soothes your soul when stressed, play it loud and sing along. If you have anxious energy, move. If you do not want to dance, clean the house, or go for a run. If you do not know what you are feeling, doodle, and maybe you will express those emotions.
There is always a way to cope, and creative coping has no limits. Your method of coping can be as simple as breathing and imagining relaxation or as complex as sculpting clay. You alone can define your best coping skills.
Learning how to cope is often a matter of trying different coping skills until you find the ones best suited to your needs. Creativity is an often overlooked coping skill involving art, dance, writing, and music; the key to using these skills is being nonjudgmental and fully involved. At Renaissance Ranch, we believe in creative coping as a way to reduce vulnerability to relapse. We believe you have the ability to recover and are interested in teaching you a variety of coping strategies. We offer support for every step of the recovery process and integrate learning coping skills. If you or someone you know is struggling with abuse of alcohol and/or other substances, the time has come to seek healing. Reach out to us at Renaissance Ranch today by calling (801) 308-8898 and learn how we can help you overcome your substance use disorder. Your future is waiting. You deserve healing and recovery.