In this time and place where the answer the question,”How are you?” and “Busy” is the acceptable answer, there something wrong. Busyness has become a feeling rather than being something one is doing. I hear it all the time and have even done it myself without thinking. Someone asks How I am and instead of being authentic, I simply say, “busy.” This answer strips away my humanity and implies that unless one is Busy, than they are doing nothing, and that is not okay.
Being busy has also replaced feeling anything. When we are busy we lose touch with how we are really feeling on a day-to-day basis. One is so busy with trying to complete checklists and cram as many errands into one shot as they can, focused on getting things done NOW that there is no room for anything else. Not fun. Not creativity. Not feelings. How can one possibly be expected to be able to create if they don’t allow themselves time to feel? How can one express themselves fully if they do not allow themselves to be in touch with feelings?
The answer of course is doing the exact opposite of being busy and giving permission to slow down. Remembering how important it is to stop and breathe for five minutes is vital to re-grounding. The other part of the answer is to express the creative self in activities that one finds fulfilling and authentic. It is starting with a small activity for five or ten minutes and working up to taking more time for oneself. This looks to many like being selfish. Ignore them. It is not selfishness that drives ones need for creative freedom but rather an innate desire to express oneself in a manner free from harsh criticism and chaos.
Here are some tips on how to take back some creative soul time, even if it is just five to ten minutes.
Journaling: Some people find it hard to get started with journaling. They have to have a purpose for writing. Some people are okay with just brain dumping onto the page. Either way is fine. Need some help getting started, Andrea Schroeder at Creative Dream Incubator has some excellent journaling cards to use as prompts to get your started. I have used a few and they are quite mind opening and inspiring. I have been following Andrea for a few years now and she has developed some amazing products for finding your dreams and inspiration. She also has a guided Journal book for sale. On her website you will also find free journaling parties! The recent one with Jamie Riddler was pretty cool.
Affirmation Cards: I love these. I love the ones that come with a brief statement of belief on the front and then a simple explanation on the back. These can jump start a day in just a few minutes, allowing the mind a brief mediation on the topic in hand. Sometimes those few minutes of reflection are just enough to be a reminder of how important creativity and soul time are. I have a couple of recommendations: I have my set at Etsy. They have an affirmation on the front and a brief meditation on the back. Also Louis Hay “Power Thought Cards” featured in her movie “You can Heal Your Life” are a great source of inspiration.
Coloring: This is all the trend right now. You can find coloring books for adults pretty much everywhere, even the dollar store. This is an activity that one can spend about ten minutes on and it has been proven to reduce stress levels. It is easy to keep one around most time with a few color pencils or markers. Take them out at break times or while relaxing at home. Here is a link to some pages I have made available previously.
Drawing/Doodling: Perhaps making the designs and pictures is a better fit. Grab a small sketchbook to carry around with some sketch pencils or colored pencils. My daughters are always doing this EVERYWHERE we go, the sketchpads come with. They like simple mechanical pencils. I buy them in bulk at the dollar store. I guess I can’t complain too much they learned from me, I take a writers notebook everywhere I go.
Play Dough: My recommendation is to get a favorite color in the small party bag size to keep on hand. It can be taken out and played with in five minute increments or use up a while fifteen minute break squeezing, shaping and molding the dough. This is also great to squeeze under stress. Almost like a mini stress ball.
Breathe: People forget how to breathe. Many people hold their breath or breathe from low in the diaphragm which actually creates more anxious feelings and a sense of being to busy. There is all kinds of information out there about different types of breathing. The one I am most familiar with is where one breathes deep from their stomach and lets it out slowly. This type of breathing forces one to physically slow down and be in the present moment.
Finally begin answering how are you with real feeling words as best as possible. Does this mean letting the grocery cashier in on the deepest secrets? NO. Use informed judgement. It is perfectly honest and all right to say, “No, I am really not having a good day today.” How they respond is up to them. If it is a best friend, then be honest and truthful. In return, most times honest and truthful will be reflected back. Here are some basic not real feeling words that get tossed around a lot but mean nothing: Fine, okay, busy, meh. They are an answer but provide no information. It is great way to brush off questions one doesn’t feel like answering. However, some good substitutes are: overwhelmed, good, great, swell ( though I would be careful, this one is often used sarcastically), or low. There are practically hundreds more.
I know when I have not had time to stop and fulfill a creative playtime or even taken a few minutes for affirmations, I feel grumpy. There is nothing wrong with that. The brain gets used to being fed good, positive stuff and throws a bit of a hissy fit when it doesn’t get what it wants. The brain is amazing. It knows what it needs and how to fix it. We just have to listen. So the next time someone asks “How are you?” try being real. I have even said, “I need a time out.” It is so much better than being too busy.