Balancing Your Mental Health Through Creativity
I recently went on a much-needed girl’s trip with some of my dearest friends to Kiawah Island, S.C., where we spent most of our time engaged in great conversations, walking on the beach, enjoying good food, watching Netflix, listening to music, and relaxing. One of my favorite activities during our time together was a “Sip and Paint” coordinated by one of the ladies. We were all given our own canvases with printed images to guide us in creating an individualized piece of artwork using watercolors. It was exciting to see everyone come up with their own designs using the same outline, but what stuck out for me was the look of happiness and peace on each lady’s face as we focused on creating. Sitting in the sun-room that overlooked the beach, feeling the breeze, and hearing the ocean waves while painting gave us such a sense of calm, and helped us to slow down and take a breather from our normally hectic and busy lives.
That moment made me think of my childhood, a time when most of us were encouraged and given the freedom to create. I remember back in elementary school when my classmates and I got to draw, color, and write stories. The breaks from classes like English, math, and science gave us space to breathe and express ourselves through the arts, providing much-needed balance, something that becomes rare as we mature and take on the responsibilities of adulthood. As busy grown-ups, we have a lot on our minds, and so much to do. We are often busy and forget to take time for ourselves to enjoy life.
When COVID hit three years ago, many of us spent most of our time at home. This period allowed people to think and to see just how stressed they had been. When given the opportunity to slow down, people began to focus on their mental health. Oftentimes we feel guilty when taking a break from our daily responsibilities, and even when we are supposed to have time off, we continue to work and worry about our full plates. We find it hard to disconnect from our jobs and especially our phones.
Younger people were born into a world where smartphones are a part of life, but we older folks remember a time without this type of technology. Were we less stressed then? Was our mental health better? Possibly, but the fact is that we now must manage our lives and adapt to societal norms, and we are sometimes forced to find the balance that keeps us thriving.
As a writer, even when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about it. I’m often inspired during my morning walks, reading, watching the news, and even during the middle of the night. Creating is always on my mind and is a means of escape, mental rest, and rejuvenation.
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to attend The HEALinc Future Health Summit in The Bahamas. Founded by Dr. Desirée Cox (MD, MPhil, Ph.D.) in 2018, The HEALinc Future Health Summit is a global networking platform that unites scientists, innovators, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and medical professionals who share one common goal: to empower people to take control of their health and future. The HEALinc’s mission is to champion the future of health by connecting the dots between scientific and medical experts, pushing the boundaries of outdated thinking styles and systems, and linking patients to resources that promote enhanced quality of life through safe and effective regenerative therapies.
The 2023 Summit will be held from April 17th - 19th at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, The Bahamas. It will feature a presentation of topics ranging from the science of healthy longevity, mitigating trauma and stress, and accelerating access to cutting-edge integrative regenerative technologies in and outside of the US to psychedelics for mind-body rejuvenation and cultivating a global future health workforce.
Improving your quality of life is not just about the new cellular therapeutics and pharmacological medicines. Art is a powerful healer. Mental health and the arts will also be an important aspect of the 2023 HEALinc Summit.
One of the highlights of the summit was the Art Show, where I was invited to do an author meet and greet and book signing as a part of the event. This opportunity opened me up to a totally new audience outside of the United States where I could share my work and vision to provide stories for children with BIPOC characters. During my time there, I attended some of the many sessions that focused on the importance of a healthy mind and making the connection between creativity and good health overall.
This year, Dr. Desirée, and Nicole Collie, Co-Founder and CEO of Emerging Creatives and Founder of The Gray Spaces, are teaming up to unveil The Art For Life art exhibition. The exhibition will be a central feature of the HEALinc Summit Grand Opening under the patronage of the Bahamas Ministry of Health and will be held in Exhibition Hall at the Atlantis Resort on Monday, April 17th from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The exhibition, which officially opens at 5:30 p.m. on April 17th and runs until the end of the Summit on April 19th, will feature a diverse range of collective works by artists Dr. Desirée Cox, Nicole Collie, His Excellency Wendall K. Jones, Amina Fogg, Del Foxton, Lyndera Hall, Moses Victor, and Clifford Fernander. To learn more about this exhibition and how you can purchase tickets to the 2023 HEALinc Summit, please visit www.healincsummit.com or www.emergingcreatives.org.
Nicole says, “Painting keeps me in a healthy mental space. “That has always been my point of view.”
Nicole believes in breaking down the barriers to creativity, recognizing the importance of mental health, and championing art as an effective form of therapy. “I think we’re all healthier people when we’re able to create the way we want,” she says.
I agree. As often as we can, we should take the time to regenerate ourselves through creative activities. Close your eyes and think about the times during your childhood when you were able to release your inner artist, and I bet that it puts a smile on your face. While you are thinking about those times, take it one step further and pick up a pen to write a creative story, a pencil to draw, or paints to paint, and think about how much better that makes you feel.
Before I go, here are a few quotes about mental health and creativity that I hope will inspire you:
“Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.” - Pablo Picasso
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou
"You use a glass mirror to see your face. You use works of art to see your soul." - George Bernard Shaw
“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it and make it the life you want to live.” —Mae Jemison, M.D., astronaut, and the first African American woman in space.
“A creative life is an amplified life. It's a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life.” - Elizabeth Gilbert
Kim at the Emerging Creatives Art Show 2019