Advertising
Advertising

How To Turn Sadness Into Creativity

How To Turn Sadness Into Creativity

Sadness is something we often experience in our lives whether short-term or long-term. Negative emotions can be difficult to deal with especially in a society that has deemed such emotions as something we shouldn’t dwell on. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the negative emotions are just as important as the positive ones.

Negative emotions are crucial for our overall happiness and well-being. They are there to tell us something, help us make sense of life’s ups and downs and evaluate our experiences. When they do come up, they are not to be judged or suppressed but rather should be seen as a tool for getting yourself back onto the right track.

When we encounter negativity, it is important that we focus on how to make use of it rather than try to eliminate it altogether. Having a positive outlook on life is extremely beneficial, but for a lot of us it can be a challenge to reach this state on a regular basis. But did you know that finding ways to channel your negative thoughts and emotions can bring about a great amount of creativity?

What Science Teaches Us About Negativity and Creativity

Advertising

f355ff222d1132a7efa47d04c32c9f20

    There have been many successful authors and artists that have been famed for having periods of emotional turmoil resulting in the creation of some of the world’s most beautiful artistic works. Is this a cliche or is there a connection between negative emotions and creativity?

    It has been long thought that positive emotions are what fuels our creativity but researchers are finding out that our most complex creative ideas do emerge from dark periods.

    In the paper The Dark Side of Creativity: Biological Vulnerability and Negative Emotions Lead to Greater Artistic Creativity” written by Modupe Akinola, a study was conducted involving positive and negative responses to a group of people asked to talk about their dream jobs. Each person received either positive or negative feedback from the people listening to them. After the experiment, the participants were asked to create a collage. The results showed that the participants who received negative responses created much more intrinsic and creative works of art than those that had experienced positive responses.

    A simple experiment but what it shows us is that emotions of sadness make us more immersed and detail-oriented and that this has something to do with the relationship between emotion and cognition.

    Advertising

    It seems that somber moods such as anxiety, self-doubt and depressive states can actually stimulate areas of the brain that control attention, analytical thinking and abstract ideas and thoughts. Frustration and anger can fuel creative tendencies and ideas as it’s our brain’s way of dealing with these emotions.

    How To Turn Sadness Into Creativity

    love-1281655_640

      Negative emotions are common and can be destructive if not dealt with in the right way. The idea is not to eliminate these emotions completely but to minimise the influence they have over us. Rather than forcing ourselves to get rid of them, we should embrace negative emotions and use them as a way to be more productive.

      If you find yourself feeling sad, frustrated or angry, instead of stewing in those emotions and doing something passive such as watching TV or surfing the internet, you are much better off engaging in writing, art or exercise. With this in mind, here are some important elements to consider when channelling your negative emotions in a positive way.

      Advertising

      1. Identify Your Negative Emotions

      This is the crucial first step – to acknowledge the negative emotions that you are currently feeling and accept them for what they are. If you feel that they linger or show up regularly then this is when channelling these emotions into more creative means could be beneficial. If they stem from a particular problem then try to frame the problem using questioning techniques to get other perspectives. This can help you dig deeper into the problem and find a solution that you would never have uncovered when in a happier state.

      2. Direct Your Negative Emotions At Problems Not People

      It’s important to use the creative process as a way to direct the negative state away from others. Concentrating on creating will not only be therapeutic and allow potential inspiration to flow, but also channel the sadness, frustration, anxiety or depression away from those around you deflecting unnecessary conflicts.

      3. Don’t Judge Yourself

      When you’re in the creative process it’s really important to not be judgemental towards yourself. When you’re experiencing negativity it is easy to fall into this trap. Creativity is an inspired process that works best when you are free of over-analysing and evaluating your ideas.

      Therapeutic Advantages of Creativity

      Advertising

      TopOfMindInnovation

        Of course, not only does your negative emotions channel your inspired thoughts and ideas, it can enhance your mood making the creative process intrinsically rewarding. Creative therapy whether you are dancing, writing or painting, can be a powerful therapeutic tool.

        People experiencing sadness may be responding to internalised thoughts and images that are overwhelmingly negative. Getting involved in a creative process can help shift these negative thoughts when undergoing an activity that allows you to use the side of the brain that focuses on fulfilment and enjoyment – although not a means to rid yourself of ongoing negative emotions, it can be used to slowly see and feel a different set of emotions altogether. Recent studies have shown that immersing yourself in a creative activity results in raising the levels of dopamine as well as the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain.

        Ways You Can Get Creative

        There are so many ways you can channel your anger, sadness, frustration, depression and anxiety into something creative. It’s important to find something that you enjoy doing and not force it – find something that comes naturally to you. Here are a few ways on how to turn sadness into creativity.

        • Writing – Writing can be used in many forms; from putting your negative emotions down onto paper or writing a story. The act of writing can not only clear your head but doing this while you’re experiencing sadness can give you extra inspiration and insight especially when you need to get ideas for a particular project. You could even start a blog or that novel you’ve always wanted to write.
        • Dancing – Expressing yourself through dance is a great way to get creative. Music and moving around will help with your creative mind and release endorphins.
        • Painting and Drawing – Sit down to paint or draw. Use lots of colours and textures and see where it takes you. Remember you’re not there to judge it – just let the creativity flow and see the results.
        • Creating and Building – Designing and building something needs analytical skills and focus – something you have a lot more of when you’re in a state of sadness.
        • Cooking – Cooking can be overlooked as a creative process and creating dishes can help turn sadness into creativity. Why not try making something you’ve never tried before? Design your own recipe and just see what you end up creating or challenge yourself with only a few ingredients. It could just be the best meal you’ve ever made.
        • Playing an Musical Instrument – Creating music to has always been a famed way of focusing negative feelings to create masterpieces. Some of the best songs and lyrics have come out of emotional turmoil – if you have a talent for playing a musical instrument or have always wanted to try then attempting this when in a negative state may produce something amazing.

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pixabay.com

        More by this author

        Jenny Marchal

        A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

        How to Be More Knowledgeable Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’ Success In Reaching Goals Is Determined By Mindset How to Save a Bunch of Money Easily With This Simple Challenge 11 Killer Ways To Get Rid Of Roaches Without Harming You

        Trending in Communication

        1 5 Things to Do If You Don’t Want to Get Back to Work 2 Take Back Control of your Life with Positive Emotions 3 Had a Bad Day? 7 Ways to Rebound From It and Feel Good Again 4 I Don’t Know What to Do With My Life! 5 Steps to Get Unstuck 5 This Is How Mentally Strong People Deal With Guilt

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on October 14, 2020

        Had a Bad Day? 7 Ways to Rebound From It and Feel Good Again

        Had a Bad Day? 7 Ways to Rebound From It and Feel Good Again

        Today didn’t turn out as you planned, but it doesn’t mean you’re weak. It simply means that you’re human, and you’re not bad just because you had a bad day.

        “Not everyday is a good day but there is something good in every day.” -Alice Morse Earle

        It’s not the end of the world when you find yourself thinking “I had a bad day,” but it can feel like it. You may have had plans that fell apart, experiences that set you back, and interactions that only did harm.

        You may have started the day thinking you could take on it all, only to find you could hardly get out of bed. When you have a bad day, you can forget to look at the good.

        Sometimes, self-care helps us to remember why we are worth it. It helps us to recharge and reset our mindset. It helps us to know that there are still options and that the day isn’t over yet.

        Love yourself today, no matter how hard it’s been. That’s the way to find yourself amidst the hardships you have. That’s how you center yourself and regain focus and live a more meaningful life. Give yourself some credit and compassion.

        Here are 7 ways to rebound from a bad day using self-compassion as a tool. If you had a bad day, these are for you!

        1. Make a Gratitude List

        In a study on gratitude, psychologists Dr. Robert A Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough conducted an experiment where one group of people wrote out gratitude lists for ten weeks while another group wrote about irritations. The study found that the group that wrote about gratitude reported more optimistic mindsets in their lives[1].

        Overall, having a gratitude list improved well-being and made one truly grateful by counting the blessings in their lives.

        Write a list of what you are grateful for if you had a bad day. Make it as long as you like, but also remember to note why you’re grateful for each thing you write.

        What has given you the most joy? What has set you up for better days? Keep a tally of triumphs in mind, especially when you do have the bad days.

        Advertising

        The day doesn’t define you, and you still have things of value that surround you. These could be material things, spiritual connections and experiences, relationships, basic needs, emotional and mental well-being, physical health, progress towards hopes and dreams, or simply being alive.

        Here are some other simple ways to practice gratitude.

        2. Write in a Journal

        Journaling affects your overall mental health, which also affects physical health and aids in the management of stress, depression, anxiety, and more[2].

        All you need is a pen and paper, or you could do an online, password-protected journal such as Penzu. The key is to get started and not pressure yourself on how polished or perfect it is. You don’t need to have prior experience to start journal writing. Just start.

        Write out everything that is bothering you for 15 minutes. This helps with rumination, processing problems, and can even aid with brainstorming solutions.

        However you approach it, you can find patterns of thinking that no longer serve you and start to transform your overall mental state. This will impact all areas of your life and is a great coping skill.

        3. Meditate

        Meditation can help you overcome negative thought patterns, worrying about the future, dwelling on the past, or struggling to overcome a bad day[3]. It shifts your mentality and helps you focus on the present or any one thing you truly want to focus on.

        Here is an example of a meditation you can do:

        Get into a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Rest your body, release tension, and unclench your jaw. Tighten and release each muscle group in a body scan for progressive muscle relaxation.

        Focus on your breath, taking a few deep breaths. Let your belly expand when you breathe in for diaphragmatic breathing. Empty yourself completely of air, then return to normal breathing.

        Next, focus on the idea of self-love and let it erase negative thoughts. Think about the ways you’ve been judging yourself, with the narratives coming up that your mind may create.

        Advertising

        Give yourself unconditional love and release judgment. Take your time meditating on this because you matter. This is particularly important if you had a bad day.

        Check out this article for more on how to get started with a meditation practice.

        4. Do Child’s Pose

        Yoga Outlet says:

        “Child’s Pose is a simple way to calm your mind, slow your breath, and restore a feeling of peace and safety. Practicing the pose before bedtime can help to release the worries of the day. Practicing in the morning can you help transition from sleeping to waking.”[4]

        When you do Child’s Pose, it can be between difficult positions in yoga, or it can be anytime you feel you need a rest. It helps you recover from difficulties and relax the mind.

        It also has the physical health benefits of elongating your back, opening your hips, and helping with digestion[5].

        To do Child’s Pose, rest your buttocks back on your feet, knees on the floor. Elongate your body over your knees with both arms extended or tucked back, with head and neck resting on the floor[6].

        Had a bad day? Try Child's Pose.

           

          Do this pose as a gift to yourself. You are allowing yourself to heal, rest, get time for yourself, recover, and recharge. When you’ve had a bad day, it’s there waiting for you.

          5. Try Positive Self-Talk

          Engage in positive self-talk. This is essentially choosing your thoughts.

          Advertising

          When you have a negative thought, such as “I can’t do this,” replace it consciously with the thought “I can do this.” Give yourself positive affirmations to help with this.

          Negative self-talk fits into four general categories: personalizing or blaming yourself, magnifying or only focusing on the negative, catastrophizing or expecting the worst to happen, and polarizing or only seeing back and white[7].

          When you stop blaming yourself for everything and start focusing on the positive, expecting things to work out, and seeing the areas of grey in life, you reverse these negative mindsets and engage in positive self-talk.

          When you speak words of kindness to yourself, your brain responds with a more positive attitude. That attitude will affect everything you do. It’s how you take care of yourself if you had a bad day.

          Check in with yourself to know when you are having negative self-talk. Are you seeing patterns? When did they start to become a problem? Are you able to turn these thoughts around?

          6. Use Coping Skills and Take a Break

          Use your coping skills. This means not letting your thoughts take control of yourself.

          You can distract yourself and escape a bit. Do things you love. You can exercise, listen to music, dance, volunteer or help someone, be in nature, or read a book.

          It isn’t about repression. It’s about redirection. You can’t stay in thoughts that are no longer working for you.

          Sometimes, it’s okay to get out of your own way. Give yourself a break from the things going on in your head. You can always come back to a problem later. This may even help you figure out the best course of action as sometimes stepping away is the only way to see the solution.

          If you had a bad day, you may not feel like addressing what went wrong. You may need a break, so take one.

          7. If a Bad Day Turns Into Bad Days

          “I believe depression is legitimate. But I also believe that if you don’t exercise, eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get enough sleep, consume positive material, surround yourself with support, then you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance.” –Jim Carrey

          If you’ve been feeling out of control, depressed, or unstable for more than a few weeks, it’s time to call a mental health professional. This is not because you have failed in any way. It’s because you are human, and you simply need help.

          You may not be able to quickly rebound from a bad day, and that’s fine. Feel what you feel, but don’t let it consume you.

          When you talk to a professional, share the techniques that you have already tried here and whether they were helpful. They may tell you additional ideas or gain insights from your struggles of not being able to rebound from a series of bad days.

          If you’re having more than just a bad day, they will want to know. If you don’t have the answers, that’s okay, too. You just need to try these tools and figure out how you’re feeling. That’s all that’s required of you.

          Keep taking care of yourself. Any progress is progress, no matter how small. Give yourself a chance to get better by reaching out.

          Final Thoughts

          If you had a bad day, don’t let it stop you.

          Know this: It’s okay not to be okay. You have a right to feel what you feel. But there is something you can do about it.

          You can invest in yourself via self-care.

          You are not alone in this. Everyone has bad days from time to time. You just need to know that you are the positive things you tell yourself.

          More Things You Can Do If You Had a Bad Day

          Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

          Reference

          Read Next