Stress + Writing ≠ Creativity

25 Jun

Stress is a killer. It not only takes its toll on your health, but it saps your creativity. It isn’t the stress of meeting a deadline…we’d all love that stress. No, it’s the stress that comes with everyday life, events we have no control over, and tragedy. When we reach our individual limit, we shutthCADXPP5Z down creatively.
There is stress eating it’s the I-don’t-give-a-crap syndrome. It’s when your teenager is giving you a full load of attitude, your four-year-old is screaming, “Mommy, look what I did,” as he points to your brand new curtains covered with your favorite lipstick, and the dog is sitting at your feet—tail wagging—the remnants of your favorite pair of shoes hanging from his mouth. Then your husband calls to tell you he’s bringing the boss home for dinner. That’s when you simultaneously reach for a serving spoon, a half-gallon of full fat ice cream and race for the nearest room with a locking door.
That’s not creative-killing stress. No, what I’m talking about is the kind that keeps you up at night staring at the ceiling wondering if you’ll be able to get out of bed in the morning. That’s the stress that kills your creativity.
I’m a worrier, and at this point it isn’t likely to change. You name it and I’ll worry about it. The kid. Someone once said, “When my daughter’s 18, she’s on her own.” Ahhh. To be able to switch off that mother thing so easily. Adult children bring their own set of stresses. Mine chose the Army Infantry for a career. The natural extension of that was him ending up in a war zone (That took a few decades off my life). Now he’s dealing with PTSD and a career-ending foot injury. Then there’s the husband who had to have emergency eye surgery. Sigh.thCAN3MSRM
The point is stress is always with us in one degree or another. We have to learn to deal with it in ways that don’t drown our creativity. Here are some tactics I use to deal with stress…none of them includes pulling out my hair or kicking the dog.
1. Get organized. You’ve heard it, a place for everything and everything in its place. It’s surprising how much stress will flee your life if you implement a system. Just think, no more last minute searches for something you need as you head out the door. It takes a while, but you can get there from here.
2. Sleep. Your brain needs to rest and reset. To do that, you need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. I can hear you! “I’ve got too much to do. And what difference can an hour or two a night make?” A LOT. They used to say you couldn’t catch up on sleep. That’s changed. A short nap (no more than an hour) and you’re farther ahead than if you tough it out.
3. Exercise. You know that drained feeling you have at the end of the Exercise_-_Treadmill_1day? Some physical activity will produce healthy endorphins. They naturally relieve stress and help you get a better night’s sleep. When you feel drained and you think you don’t have enough energy to fix dinner, let alone deal with everyone in the family that’s a great time to leash up the dog and go for a walk. You’ll be amazed how much energy you’ll have at the end of the walk.
4. Massage. I wouldn’t/can’t give up my massages. It’s something I do just for me. It works out all the kinks and I end up relaxed.
5. Friends. There’s no replacement for friends. You know the kind you MB900445508trust with your deepest secrets. They can finish your sentences and turn a blind eye to your stupid stuff. They are hard to find. I love my friends. You guys know who you are and how important you are to me.
Stress is with us forever, the best we can hope for is to keep it at bay. How do you deal with the stress in your life?


Posted by on June 25, 2013 in Blogs, health, stress, writers


15 responses to “Stress + Writing ≠ Creativity

  1. Judith KeimJ

    June 25, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    Great blog, Peggy! Stress can be debilitating. Like you, I try to stay organized. Keeping to a “schedule” keeps me going and allows me the time to write. Lately I’ve been struggling with the writing because I’m anxious about submissions and starting a new book. (I’m a pantser, so it takes a lot of mental prep to decide where I’m going, in general, with a story idea). Like you, also, I depend upon friends and family to ease the stress of all this wondering and worrying. Thanks for the reminders!

    • Peggy Staggs

      June 25, 2013 at 4:27 PM

      We forget how stress can affect us. Friends are a life saver.

  2. Jennifer

    June 25, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    As a fellow worrier, this one really hit home with me. I once heard someone say on a sitcom, “You’re only ever as happy as your least happy child.” The reality of that statement stuck with me. I love your tips too. I think I need to try the massage one 🙂

    • Peggy Staggs

      June 25, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      Massage is a life saver. It works out all the physical kinks and allows you to forget the outside world for a time.
      We should start a Worriers Anonymous.

  3. Corina Mallory

    June 25, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    Stress is an absolute creativity killer! And, for me, stress can trigger depression. It’s not an immediate trigger, but over the long term it definitely flips that switch and then lack of creativity is the least of my worries. I’ve designed my life to limit stress as much as I can, but no one can eliminate stress entirely. In addition to your excellent tips about sleep and exercise, one thing that helps me keep the stress from feeding on itself is being really careful about what I eat when I’m going through a stressful patch. I load up on things that I know are healthy and do my best to not fall into an all fat/sugar diet. It doesn’t always work, but I know that if I don’t eat sugared toast at breakfast, cookies at lunch, and ice cream for dinner I’m less likely to let stress turn into depression. (Um, people who saw how I was eating at the retreat? That was just gluttony pure and simple.)

    • Peggy Staggs

      June 25, 2013 at 4:38 PM

      First Retreat doesn’t count. But the food thing is valid. If you’re in a cycle of ups and downs with sugar it can really mess with your head. I’m not saying a few cookies are a bad thing. Tea, cookies, a cat and a cool afternoon are always a stress reliever.

  4. stephanieberget

    June 25, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    Boy, does this post speak to me. I think my friends keep me sane when stress threatens to overwhelm me. And as much as I hate to admit it, exercise does wonders.

    • Peggy Staggs

      June 25, 2013 at 4:42 PM

      Friends are the best. Who else will sit there and listen to your insane rants and still not think you’re crazy–or if they do they don’t care.

  5. Lynn Mapp

    June 25, 2013 at 5:50 PM

    Stress sucks. It kills the flow needed to create. Here’s the thing, none of us are safe from it. Thank you for sharing your tips.

    • Peggy Staggs

      June 27, 2013 at 4:54 PM

      You’re welcome. I know you’ve been struggling with it as well. I hope some of this helps.

  6. Janis McCurry

    June 26, 2013 at 7:10 AM

    It’s just too stressful to reply! Just kidding. 😉 Good tips.

  7. Jan Hambright

    June 26, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    Great post, Peggy. Just the thing I needed to hear right now.

    Hugs, Jan

    • Peggy Staggs

      June 27, 2013 at 4:55 PM

      Glad I could help. I hope all is going well with you.

  8. maryvine

    July 2, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    I think writing things down, helps me with the hustle and bustle. Also, when things are bad, to be able to pick up a book by a favorite author helps, too. Thanks, Peggy! Good one.


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