if slightly off-center muffins stress you out, this article is for you
In the past, I’ve written about how to balance writing while being a showrunners’ assistant or writers’ assistant, but today I’d like to tackle general strategies for stress relief so that you can maintain your creativity in any period of your life — during the holidays, in times of financial stress, or while anxiously waiting the return of FX’s LEGION (how am I supposed to pretend not having new episodes is not affecting my mental sanity??)
So. Here’s how to preserve those creative thoughts when they’re being attacked by stress hormones.
1. Don’t See Stress as the Enemy
This incredible TED Talk changed the entire way I view stress: as a preparation for a challenge instead of a detrimental function of our body to be curtailed as much as possible.
Another study I was reading recently talked about how repeating the words “I am excited” in your head before a challenge (like a pitch or big meeting) can help turn nervousness into excitement.
Perspective is key: stress exists to help you rise to the occasion. While we need to be mindful of the amount of stress in our lives, we shouldn’t stress about stress too much, either.
2. Exercise for Endorphins and Creative Solutions
Truly, exercise is the solution for writers block and fighting stress. The release of tension and endorphins helps to spark creativity in a big way. My favorite workouts are running and yoga: running for vigorous cardio, and yoga for a clear mind.
I’m putting together a “yoga-for-writers” routine you can do from the comfort of your own home — so you introverts don’t have to interact with people and you can still get your zen on!
3. Use Journaling to Plan, Reflect on Your Day
I use BestSelf’s journal to plan out my day and set goals for myself, and I have another journal just to reflect on my day. Capturing your observations helps put things in perspective, and getting everything that’s clouding up your mind on paper helps so much when you’re trying to wade through your thoughts and to-do lists.
Journaling also can lead to breakthrough new ideas or scenes for what you’re writing.
4. Utilize Aromatherapy & Sound Therapy
Light candles and turn on some rain sounds. Letting go and finding space to relax not only reduces stress, but it allows you to connect on a deeper level with your work. Getting inside the minds of your characters requires that you step outside your own at times.
One of my yoga teachers also swears by “thieves oil” — a blend of essential oils (eucalyptus, cinnamon, rosemary and others) that supposedly boosts immune function and promotes calming. It allegedly got its name from the 15th century French thieves who used it during the black plague while robbing graves, and the oil kept them from catching the plague.
Like most things, it’s available on Amazon if you’re looking for a last-minute holiday gift for the writers in your life:
5. Spend Time with Loved Ones
Bonus points if they make you laugh with terrible puns! (Okay, those bonus points are for the laughter, not the puns)
It’s time spent with the people you care about that helps to remind you what matters. And let’s face it: sometimes when your script isn’t going well or you’re struggling with climbing the Hollywood ladder, it takes venting to a friend and then several drinks at Fat Dog to make the world right again.
Wishing everyone a happy holiday season! Here’s to a new year of writing and (hopefully) less stress in your life.