In a recent corporate creative journaling workshop I delivered to two groups I had a strange experience. When we got to the creative writing/sketching prompt about resilience each group had a different reaction to this word. One group dove into the exercise (which was to describe a person whose resilience you admire). The other group resisted. I heard comments such as “I don’t like that word” and “resilience is just a word asking us to put up with more of the same, to do more with less”. So I got curious. I looked it up in the dictionary:
Definitions from Oxford Languages
the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
“the remarkable resilience of so many institutions”
the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
“nylon is excellent in wearability and resilience”
I wondered how resilience came to be associated with pushing through, with doing more. I think it has a lot to do with current world events (three years of Covid, many other world disasters, the economy, the environment), as well as the messaging from our leaders. Whether you are an employee where you are shorthanded, or a family trying to stretch a food budget a bit further, many people are feeling pressure to do more with less.
Many people I speak to say they are not feeling their usual energetic selves. My assessment is that the stress of the past few years is catching up with us as a society. We may not be feeling particularly resilient because maybe we are not springing back quickly after such a long period of prolonged stress.
We need to build ways to cope with the continued stress. When we are stressed it is difficult to make decisions, to think clearly. Our productivity suffers. We need to build resilience, to find ways of moving out of the ongoing stress and into a state of well-being, even if it is only for short periods of time.
How does creativity help with resilience?
Engaging in a creative practice has been shown to reduce stress and prevent burnout. Creativity is the practice of thinking outside the box and then taking action. We use creativity in many ways. For example, when we design a new piece of art and then make it; when we learn to play a new instrument; when we put together a fabulous recipe and prepare it; when we design and build a new deck; when we solve a technical problem at work.
Engaging in a creative practice can take our mind off of the stress and uncertainty for a brief moment. That is helpful, as it gives our body and mind a break from the tension. But I think it does more than that. When we engage in a creative practice we start to tap into feelings of pleasure. Our shoulders relax, our stomach unclenches and we feel good. By doing something creative and getting ourselves into this state I think we are training our brain and body to recognize positive sensations. In this way when we are stressed we can learn to return to that state of well-being.
Resilience doesn’t have to mean keep going, push through adversity, do more with less. In my experience resilience can also mean bending without breaking, so you can step aside to take time to heal. It can mean changing directions, finding new ways of being. Here is a photo of one of my Wild Woman mats that deals with the topic of resilience. The words from my journal that surround the design are: “Graceful, easy swaying. Joyful. Bending, not breaking. Strong, rooted. Chakra Colours.”
How can I help?
Need some help regaining your enthusiasm and energy? I offer one to one Creativity Connection Sessions so you can start getting unblocked and moving towards feeling ‘in the flow’ again. Through writing, sketching and conversation we work to get out of your head and connect with your heart and self. Each session ends with clear ‘next steps’.
In my One Loop at a Time Creativity Workbook I share my creative journaling process for getting unblocked.
Not sure what you need? Book a free 15 minute conversation and we can discuss what would be best for you.