I recently attended a workshop on creative writing. The goal was to encourage taking time for creative thought in order to inspire new ways of solving issues in the workplace.
Sometimes our society and culture downplay the important role creativity can have in our lives and wellness. It is often discouraged in the workplace in favour of rules, regulations, systems and outcome measures. All these things have their place but can sometimes squelch creativity and inspiration.
I began the day of the workshop feeling rather frustrated and drained about a recurring situation. I was sceptical about the workshop but thought it might be good to hear about how creative writing or journaling could be helpful in the work place, which for me is the ever-changing landscape of our healthcare system.
Throughout my career, I have encouraged many to journal as a good way to release pent up emotions or to vent feelings safely and help process difficult issues. But the workshop didn’t start there. To my surprise, the emphasis was really about being creative. Rather than process emotions, we were to allow the freedom to search inside our creative selves.
The first activity involved selecting from a stack of paint chips and writing about how the colour and name of the colour related to oneself. As I focused on the project at hand, I noticed a shift in the weight of my frustrations and started putting the issues that were bothering me into better perspective.
We did three writing activities that afternoon, and all agreed something had been awoken in us. We enjoyed some laughter together as we made connections with each other. I had needed a creativity break and hadn’t realized how beneficial it could be. The process left me feeling enlivened and rejuvenated.
This process helped me to realize that creativity in our lives is important. I learned that as we encourage a creative state of mind we become better at being flexible with ideas, more spontaneous and question how and why things work. Unleashing creative thought might help workers develop new insights and solutions to difficult situations.
We often think of creativity being only for artists, musicians and authors, but there is creative potential in all of us. We just have to unleash it and allow creative moments to happen. Although writing was the basis of this workshop, you might choose to work with paints, mould some clay, or just daydream.
We are very good at taking breaks at work for physical reasons such as lunch, washrooms, a walk, or chatting to a friend. But what if we took a five-minute break for a creative moment?
I wonder what would happen if we incorporated creativity into each workday?
Paula Frappier is an occupational therapist and geropsychiatry community education coordinator with Homewood and CMHA.
The “Open Mind” column is sponsored by community partners who are committed to raising awareness about mental health, reducing stigma and providing information about resources that can help. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For local mental health resources/information, visit www.mdsgg.ca or call 1-844-HERE247.