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How Creativity Can Spark Joy and Reduce Burnout in Midlife and Beyond

Many women during menopause observe a renewed interest in having a creative process. I was speaking with Dr. Jenn Salib Huber (also known as the Menopause Nutritionist) recently who said “It’s something that I really noticed through my transition was this renewed interest need, craving, for creativity. At first I was attributing it to the fact that my kids were a little older, I wasn’t so busy. But as I started to have conversations with other people in this age and stage  there seemed to be this common thread – that we had a really deep need desire, interest, want, whatever you want to call it, for creativity.”

If you are a person in midlife or beyond, have you noticed this?

Embracing creative expression in Midlife and Beyond

Creativity is the ability to think outside the box and take action. It’s not just about art or hand work. It can be cooking, gardening, building furniture, writing. Midlife is a perfect time to embrace creativity. because generally we’re in some sort of transition, whether it’s our health, we are changing careers, we’ve had a big illness or a relationship change, we have just retired, or the kids have left home. For whatever reason we are moving into a whole new career or lifestyle.

Wakeup Call

Creativity had always been a part of my life. But as I was raising my kids and trying to get ahead in my career as a homeopath, I didn’t spend as much time doing my creative process. Then I had a health crisis in 2015. I was 58 and I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The year before that, I had crashed my son’s motorcycle on a curvy country road. And it was totally my fault. But it was a real wake up call for me.

I decided that I would close my practice as a homeopath. I had been a homeopath for 20 years. Knowing that cancer was an illness at a deep level I knew that I needed to take the time and the space to figure out how to heal and move forward.

Creativity came into play

I started to write in a journal. I decided I would hold space for myself, and rug hook and write every day. And that was so fabulous.

It was incredibly freeing to just take this step and have no idea what I was going to do. Because creativity involves thinking outside the box and doing something about it, my creative practice was creating this space for myself, where I could figure things out. And I think that’s what having a creative practice can do. It takes us out of our busy life.

Even if it’s for 10 minutes a day, it takes you outside of that and you’re doing something that isn’t a should, it isn’t a duty. It isn’t a responsibility. It’s something you’re doing for the joy of it.  Engaging in my creative practice gave me the space to figure out how I wanted my life to be going forward.

What ended up happening for me is that my journals became my first book. And my rugs became part of this book. That led to teaching and talking to other people about creative journaling. One thing has led to another.

Using creativity to reconnect with yourself & your needs

This is where midlife and beyond comes into play.  Part of being a woman in this stage is feeling that I want to get back to who I am, who I really am. As we’re going through early adulthood, when we’re maybe raising a family or building a career, we are doing a lot of things. We have responsibilities towards other people. We can easily lose sight of who we are as a person and who maybe we were before life got in the way, or people’s expectations got in the way.

My creative process is very much tied to figuring out who I am as a person. And what makes my heart sing. Before I started this process, my rug hooking would be about something I saw that I loved or just playing with colour. After my treatment when I started hooking in this new way and journaling in this new way, I started making rugs that were about what do I need next? What do I need in my life?

Expressing what’s inside has a whole other power

My art and my creativity became an expression of who do I really want to be? And what does that look like? And what does that feel like? Connecting with your inner self  is how creativity can really help. All creativity and creative practices are great ways to get unblocked. But when you make things with the intention of expressing what’s inside and finding out what’s inside, it has that whole other power, which is exciting and fun.

Does a creative practice have to be productive? Hell no!

“(o)ne of the biggest challenges for me was that … when I was in perimenopause, …, I was still very much in … the productive years of my life and very much rolled up in productivity culture, in that my time needed to be spent doing something that was productive by objective measures for myself or for someone else.” (Jenn Salib Huber) Does this resonate with you?

Previously, I was in that boat as well. I would never sit down to do my creative process until every everything else was done.  I’d have to have all my chores done. If I had a patient that was worrying me I’d have to work on their case a little bit first. And so I found that I had very little time to do my creative process. Getting sick with cancer made me wake up and say, “hey, my health and being well is important to me! If I just keep driving myself this way I’m not going to get better.” As a homeopath I saw people have health crises. And then they would pack themselves up as quickly as they could and get back to their same old patterns.

What do you need to rock this next stage?

I was determined that that wasn’t going to happen to me. In the work I do, I talk a lot about self compassion. I encourage people to really consider what do I need in this situation? Because I think particularly as women, we’re not used to thinking about what do I need? Often it’s what does everybody else need? If there’s time left over, I’ll look after myself. Creating just for the joy of it, because I’m worth it, because it brings me joy is something I encourage the women I work with to strive for.

I realized pretty early on the creative process was something that I totally needed. I feel so much better when I’m creating. The way I structure my work now is that I have to spend at least part of every day making, because making is what does it for me.

And when I get really busy and I stop making, that’s when I start to fall apart. I start to not do my best job when I’m facilitating or writing or speaking.

What is your creative process? How can you integrate it into your life? It’s about valuing yourself in midlife and saying, “Okay, what do I need to really rock this next stage in my life?”

How can I help?

I hope you have found these suggestions helpful. I work with women to help them reconnect with joy and a renewed sense of purpose. Many of my clients are searching for ways to ‘feel alive’ and full of purpose again when they reach out to me.

Are you ready to make a change, reinvent yourself, and make time for self care and creativity? Are you on the cusp of seeing your potential to be a better version of yourself and you want to know how to do this? Would you like to find your voice and be wild with purpose?

You would be most welcome to join my Creating Space FREE service. Each week I will send you a writing/sketching prompt. And you can share your response to the prompt with me directly. If you need more and would like some individual time with me, there are options to book time with me.  Sign up today for this FREE resource.

My Creativity One to One sessions are designed to help you to start getting unblocked and moving towards feeling ‘in the flow’ again. My approach is gentle and non-judgemental. Through writing, sketching and conversation I help you to get out of your head and connect with your heart and self.