Anxiety and the Creative Person
Anxiety, Worry, Panic Attacks, Stress and Overwhelm
Many creative people have questions about anxiety, worry, panic attacks, stress and overwhelm. For example:
- Why do these feelings come up?
- How can I deal with them?
- Can I avoid them and stop them happening again?
- Is there a link between anxiety and being a creative person?
- Is there a link between anxiety and being a highly sensitive person?
- How can I make sure that my creativity isn’t damaged and blocked by my anxiety?
- I often feel a sort of low-level underlying feeling of dread and jitteriness — is this anxiety?
When it comes to anxiety, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution. In fact, in a sense, there’s no definitive ‘solution’, because anxiety is part of being human. I struggle with anxiety from time to time, just as (I assume) all therapists do; we’re people just like everyone else. Having said that, there are definitely some ways that anxiety can be worked with and understood, that can actually help us grow and change and become fuller, more whole, more psychologically flexible versions of ourselves.
I hope this page will provide some useful ideas and starting points that will serve as a springboard to help you find some interesting, transformative, creative answers within yourself.Anxiety, worry, panic attacks, stress and overwhelm: a creative person's guide Click To Tweet
Panic attacks can feel terrifying. But there are things you can do to help yourself.
- Handling Panic Attacks: 7 Simple Tools You Can Use
- Ground Yourself – 12 Easy Ways to Get Calmer
- Panic attacks: What Nobody Tells You
When you are struggling with difficult thoughts that keep on coming back, it can be hard to know how to get out of that loop. Difficult thoughts will sometimes respond well to self-help strategies. But if self-help doesn’t seem to be working over time, it may be wise to seek psychotherapy that can both get to the roots of the problem, and also offer skills and tools for managing your feelings and thoughts day-to-day. Recurrent difficult thoughts can be a symptom of trauma (PTSD).
If you are looking for a therapist, and you suspect (or know) that you have suffered trauma, it’s worth knowing that trauma therapy has changed a lot in recent years. Hopefully you will find a therapist who is reasonably up-to-date with contemporary methods of trauma treatment. If you’re curious about what the differences are, I encourage you to read my article Trauma Therapy Has Changed – Here’s How.
Self-help read: Creative solutions for managing difficult thoughts.
Waking at night – and then being unable to get back to sleep because of anxiety – is pretty horrible. It can impact your functioning during the day, and it can feel almost unbearable when you’re lying in bed (or pacing the floor downstairs) in the middle of the night.
Self-help read: How to Stop Lying Awake Worrying: 28 Ideas to Try.
Therapy or Counselling for Anxiety
Self-help can only take you so far with easing your anxiety, worry, panic attacks, stress and overwhelm. If you add in weekly sessions of psychotherapy or counselling, then your self-help strategies are likely to become much more effective.
Why? For simplicity, I won’t go into the neuroscience here too much, so I’ll just say this: very different things happen in the brain and body when we are interacting with another person. And if that person is a properly trained psychotherapist, he or she will have particular ways of listening, connecting with and understanding you, that utilise certain aspects of your brain and nervous system to help you manage your anxiety and stress in new ways.
But if you’ve never had therapy or counselling before (or even if you have), it might feel quite daunting (and, yes, anxiety-inducing!) to contact a therapist and then go and see them. Here are some tips:
Five things to help you feel calm enough to get to your first therapy session:
- Get an idea of what kind of therapy/ therapist you’re looking for. Read my article on Finding a Good Therapist.
- Get a sense of who the therapist is. Maybe there’s a video of them on their website that you can watch? Perhaps you can read an article they’ve written on a therapist directory such as Counselling Directory, Psychology Today, LifeLabs or Welldoing.org. Some therapists have been guests on a podcast that you can listen to, such as Therapy Chat, Therapist Uncensored, Women in Depth, or The Trauma Therapist Podcast.
- Talk to the therapist on the phone first. Many therapists are happy to offer a free 15-minute consultation before booking a first session, and they’ll answer questions or concerns you may have.
- Find out what their treatment would involve.
- Read my article, Your First Counselling Session: 12 Things You Need to Know.
Other articles that might be helpful for anxiety, worry, panic attacks, stress and overwhelm
Articles From around the Web
7 Strategies for Using Mindfulness to Reduce Anxiety (by Sharon Martin, LCSW)
I hope this has been useful as a starting-point.