Coronavirus has impacted all of us already to a huge degree - and this is only going to intensify over the coming months. You may be confined to your home for weeks or even months, and on top of that you may be trying to juggle working from home, “schooling” the kids at home, and generally dealing with unprecedented foot traffic in your home. Getting sick on top of this will be just awful. So amongst all these new stresses and unknown outcomes, how do we deal and still be creatively productive?
We have some tips for self isolation for you! Yay!
When you’re confined to a space and there are things weighing you down, you tend to “contract” and your vision becomes narrowed - your problems seem so much bigger. If, however you “expand”, and by that I mean look out into your community - and try to find ways to contribute (whilst staying socially isolated), a different perspective emerges. It might be just taking turns with your neighbours to get some shopping for elderly or immobile members of the community, or connecting with other artists that you haven’t spoken to for a while on Facetime or Zoom, or brainstorming solutions with like minded people. Problems are easier to manage when we work as a team in our communities.
If you have a window that’s seen from the street, maybe put a different painting in the window every couple of days. Anything creative being shared with your community will bring joy, and will lighten the burden not only for yourself, but for your community - and this idea will continue to spread - a ripple effect hopefully around the world.
If you’re not up to anything that expansive, if you’re still feeling like hunkering down and you just want to focus on yourself, grab some canvas or watercolour paper, and just put some combinations of the brightest possible colours you can onto it. Just playing with bright colours will lift you, but the act of pushing colour around has been proven to be meditative. Studies have actually shown that the parts of people’s brains that light up when painting, are similar to the parts of the brain that are active when you’re meditating. This will bring you a sense of calm, and take you out of what can often by “cyclical” and a sometimes damaging way of thinking. You can go even deeper if you like, and focus on the sensation of the paint on the surface, the feel of the brush in your hand, whether or not your “in” breath affects the mark that you make; or whether you exhale when you make a long brushstroke. Just going “inwards” in that way, will give you some separation from the overwhelm of everything else that is going on externally.
It took 13.8 billion years of stars collapsing, cosmic convulsions and chemical reactions just for you to be sitting here, reading this. It seems to me that to recognise the miraculousness of that moment, will somehow inspire an urge to honour it in some way. Paint away, dear miracles.
Exercise has proven to increase endorphins. Maybe now is the time to take on that big canvas with some abstract expressionism. Some 4” paintbrushes, a crapload of paint, and throw as much paint at that canvas as you possibly can while dancing around like a lunatic and listening to your choice of music. I challenge you to feel bad after 20 minutes of that. Consider that it might be remotely possible that you don’t feel great at the end of it. But if you film yourself doing it, and put it on the internet, you will bring joy to thousands, and a new online career is born. You’re welcome.
If you’re really not feeling that enthusiastic, leave the paint and the canvas, put on some rocking tunes and dance around for 20 minutes. Find some outlandish costumes to dress in beforehand for that extra degree of ridiculous to make you smile. Ridiculousness is a guaranteed cure for seriousity. Otherwise known as the terrible affliction of being too serious. It’s truly horrendous.
Something else to consider is the idea of limiting your news consumption to a reputable source (not sensationalist), and try and limit it to half an hour a day. Then go back to the real world of Netflix, Youtube, popcorn and paint. And ridiculousness.
Another idea is to tend to something each day. Whether that be a seedling, a child (one of your own - do not steal other people’s children) or something else that requires looking after. A plant is good. Humans need a purpose, and especially when things are uncertain, we need to feel like we’re useful and important. You are useful and important. Full stop. We love you too. Take care of yourself and your family, and remember your ABC’s - Always Be Creating!
And last but not least - something I learned when faced with my own monumental life experience - was that at the heart of everything is love. It’s the answer to everything. Love as much as you can. Each other, your life, the plant you’re tending, every breath. That is all. <3