7 Creative Outlets For Stress Relief

A woman is being creative and relieving stress by painting

When I was younger, I underestimated the impact that stress would have on my life.

I have always considered myself someone who handled stress well.  However, I think the issue was that I hadn’t yet encountered any extremely stressful situations. Sometimes you never know how you are going to react to something until it is happening in that moment. 

It took me some time to learn that when I thought I was “dealing with my stress like a boss” I actually wasn’t processing it at all. I was in complete denial and simply ignoring it and bottling all that stress up inside of me. 

Now I believe that everyone has a certain amount of stress they can take. I like to think of it as a stress bucket if you will. Everyone has different sizes of buckets according to who they are and how much stress they can naturally handle. When stressful things happen in life those drops of stress get added to the bucket, and when we do things to relieve our stress, some drops get removed from the bucket.  

The emptier our stress bucket is, the more relaxed we are. But the more our bucket begins to fill up, the more overwhelmed or “stressed out” we become. 

If we aren’t careful, we can add too much to our bucket at once and it can overflow. This is when we experience burnout. We have no more room in our bucket for even one more drop of stress. 

I have experienced burnout before, in both my professional and personal life, and it was very difficult to come back from.

I strongly believe if I had made self-care and self-love a priority, before it reached that critical overflow level, that I would never have experienced burnout in the first place.  

I have always been a creative person, so I wish I would have known the positive effect that being creative can have on stress, and that is why I am choosing to share those with you now, as well as 7 creative outlets for stress relief.

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Why should we try creative self-care activities? 

1) They reduce stress 

Self-care activities themselves are great at helping with stress. Not to mention there has been research done that tells us that playful and creative people experienced less stress than those that weren’t fun and creative. 

Being creative helps to calm our anxiety. Combining self-care and creativity can be a winning combination. 

2) They can improve our immunity 

There are numerous studies that show that creative activities can have lasting positive effects on our immunity. Like this one about HIV positive patients and journaling, or this one for people with chronic pain, and there was also one done for music therapy and it’s positive effects on our immune response.

3) They increase happiness 

Have you ever been absorbed in something you were doing and completely lost track of time? That usually happens when you are involved in a creative activity, and it can help to boost our moods. 

Also completing any activity, especially a creative one, can give us a sense of accomplishment which releases dopamine to make us happier as a result. 

7 creative outlet ideas to decrease stress

1) Write a story or poem 

Writing is the creative outlet that I enjoy the most (if you can’t tell by this blog). Writing about my personal experiences with stress and burnout, as well as my journey to loving myself and treating myself the way I deserve, has been truly therapeutic for me. 

I also really enjoy creative writing as well such as poems, or fiction.

There are so many positive benefits to writing, that I think everyone should give it a try.

2) Draw or sketch 

You don’t have to be a great illustrator to enjoy drawing. You don’t even have to show anyone. Sometimes drawing a silly stick figure, or funny picture can help make us smile and ensure we don’t take ourselves too seriously. 

3) Try a coloring book 

When I first heard about adult coloring books, I will admit I was a bit skeptical. I hadn’t colored since I was a child, and I didn’t think I would enjoy it. 

I can admit I was wrong. 

There is something that inherently relaxing about coloring. I also find it extremely comforting, as it is an activity that connects you to your inner child.  

The key is to pick out a coloring book that you are interested in.  

I really like this one, that is full of little details and motivational quotes to help keep you positive.

Or there is this one, that I LOVE. It is motivational but also full of swear words, which I know isn’t for everyone.

And this one is full of such beautiful artwork and designs like mandalas, giraffes, and flowers.

4) Try a new recipe  

If you enjoy cooking (and it doesn’t cause you more stress as it does for me), creating or experimenting with a new recipe can help you to focus on something else and quiet a racing mind. 

5) Try painting something 

A painting I made at a paint night in a comic strip style of a girl crying because puppies are cute
Everyone else’s paintings were about wine, but I made mine about puppies

Do you remember when those paint nights were super popular before the pandemic? You went to like a bar where you could have drinks with your friends and followed an instructor as they taught you how all how to recreate the same painting step-by-step?  

I still have a few of mine.  (see picture above)

The drawing/painting gene skipped over me, and my sister got all the talent on that front. But I still found I had a lot of fun creating the painting. It was nice, and relaxing. You could go at your own pace and add things if you wanted based on how creative you were feeling. 

And I don’t think mine turned out as bad as I thought they were going to. 

6) Play an instrument 

Learning an instrument is a wonderful way to be creative and express yourself through music. Playing an instrument can be a huge stress reliever for many people. 

7) Try a DIY project from Pinterest or a YouTube video 

Does everyone have one of those friends that is just naturally talented at every single thing she tries, or is it just me?  

I swear one of my best friends just sees something she wants to try, becomes inspired, and just figures out how to do it, and it always turns out amazing.  

Even if it didn’t turn out that great, just the act of creating something new and that sense of accomplishment can do wonders for our self-esteem and help to relieve stress. Plus, then we have knocked something off of our to-do list. 

It is important to remember that you don’t have to be good at any of these things for them to help relax you and reduce your stress levels.

But if you find the activity is stressing you out, or you are getting frustrated then it simply isn’t the activity for you and you can find something else. That is what is great about self-care.  

But who knows, you might surprise yourself and discover a new talent. 

What are some of your favorite creative self-care activities? 

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