Stress Management Tip #3 – Self-Care and Creativity
Self-care is a concept that is often dismissed by women, frequently because they feel guilty for devoting time to themselves instead of those around them. Christian women in particular often consider self-care “wrong” or “bad.” After all, the Bible makes a point of teaching that Christians are to be humble and put others first, right (e.g., Phil. 2:3)? Well guess what . . . Scripture also teaches that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19) and that we are to take care of it (1 Cor. 3:17). Proverbs 14:30 teaches that “a heart at peace gives life to the body,” and being so stressed out we can’t fit rest and self-care into our schedule is at odds with having a peaceful heart, wouldn’t you say?
If that’s not enough, the benefits of self-care are backed by science. Research reveals that taking a “creative break” can be relaxing and rejuvenating. A recent study demonstrated that participants of varying levels of experience, after engaging in artistic expression for only forty-five minutes, experienced a significant reduction in levels of the stress hormone cortisol (Kaimal, Ray & Muniz, 2016). Another study found that artistic expression, including dance, writing, visual art (painting, crafting), and music, were beneficial to mental health. The results of that study “indicated that creative engagement can decrease anxiety, stress, and mood disturbances” (emphasis mine) (Stuckey and Nobel, 2010, p. 261). Thus, there is ample biblical and scientific support for embracing the discipline of self-care (yes, I called it a discipline!).
Dear one, if you’re earnestly trying to learn effective stress management techniques, you simply must get comfortable with the idea of taking care of YOU, and even – gasp! – pampering yourself! Try making a list of the things you find relaxing and indulgent, but that don’t cause you to feel guilty afterward (i.e., eating a pint of full-fat ice cream in one sitting, after consuming half a pizza, is not recommended). So what brave step will you take toward caring for yourself? It can be simple, inexpensive, and doesn’t even have to take that much time. Maybe give yourself a pedicure and paint your toes a wild color you love! Or, or settle in with a favorite book for even half an hour. Make a crafting date with yourself and get creative making something pretty! You could sit quietly and listen to soothing music (or, provided you don’t have neighbors super close, turn up your favorite “happy song” and belt it out!), buy yourself some flowers, take a long walk in the woods, have a “home spa” night, take a hot soak . . . whatever it is, it will be unique to you and whatever you’re in the mood for. Precious one, do this for yourself!
Need individual guidance on how to de-stress your life? Contact me for one-on-one stress management coaching in person, via phone, or on FaceTime!
Kaimal, G., Ray, K. & Muniz, J. (2016). Reduction of cortisol levels and participants’ responses following art making. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 33(2), 74-80. doi: 10.1080/07421656.2016.1166832
Stuckey, H. L., & Nobel, J. (2010). The connection between art, healing, and public health: A review of current literature. American Journal of Public Health, 100(2), 254–263. http://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2008.156497