Unwind Talks No.1: Can Mindfulness affect Creativity?
Introducing Unwind Talks
A new segment where we invite people that are a part our project to talk about themes relevant to their work and that we value as a brand.
We want you to meet our Unwind Studio artists, and give them a space to share their opinions and perspectives, as well as showcase their work and inspirations.
In this first edition we discuss with our artist Olivia Sawai her perspective on how Mindfulness can affect Creativity.
What is Mindfulness?
Christopher Germer, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and lecturer on psychiatry describes Mindfulness as “a skill that allows us to be less reactive to what is happening in the moment. It is a way of relating to all experience—positive, negative and neutral—such that our overall suffering is reduced and our sense of well-being increases.” (Germer, Christopher; in “Insight Journal - What is Mindfulness?”; 2004)
This topic has been at the forefront of discussion during these tough times, because it can be practiced in a multitude of ways.
One of the ways mindfulness affects our everyday life is when it comes to creativity!
The uncertainty and overall anxiety that we have been dealing with lately is taking a toll on our mental health, which in turn affects our creativity, and there is evidence that mindfulness enhances our creative abilities. The practice of mindful thinking improves concentration, decreases fear of being judged, and encourages open-mindedness. All ways that help engage our creativity. When it comes to creative thinking/making, an artist must be vulnerable in order to express their vision accurately, and mindfulness helps reduce self consciousness, which makes people feel more comfortable when sharing their ideas.
Art as a form of Therapy
One example of an artist that uses art as a form of therapy is Louise Bourgeois. The french-american artist, best known for her large-scale sculpture, installation art, painting and printmaking, has talked about her use of drawing as a form of therapy.
In her own words:
“I know that when I finish a drawing, my anxiety level decreases”
“When I draw it means that something bothers me, but I don’t know what it is. So it is the treatment of anxiety.”
For the artist, the act of creating a piece of drawing had the ability to help her anxiety. Her mindful way of looking at art shows us how creativity is affected by our mental health, and can also affect how we create.
Photo by Jean-François Jaussaud
Meet the Artist: Olivia Sawai
Our amazing Unwind Studio artist Olivia Sawai, has been creating work around creative mindfulness for some time. Her messages of self-love, soul work and gratitude caught our attention and we asked her if she could share with us her own experience with mindful art making!
Unwind Studio: Some artists view art as a form of therapy. Does your art making process have any relation with your mental health?
Olivia: Absolutely. Most times I create when I feel any type of emotion, not just feeling sad. My creative process is not rigid at all. Mental health wise – I create art to express my experiences with my own mental health healing journey and share it with my audience. The art making process allows me to bring my energy towards the specific messages I want to convey whether that be low or high energy. This process is so therapeutic for me. It’s almost like a different form of journaling, but for me, it involves art.
US: Do you find that your mental health affects your creativity?
O: Yes and my mental health won’t lie to me! If I’m not feeling happy then I can’t create most of the time and it’s so much more complex than just not feeling happy. I really don’t force myself to create if I just can’t. It doesn’t feel authentic and it’s honestly not worth putting unnecessary stress on myself. It’s all about balance and that will forever be an area of improvement.
US: What are your thoughts on mindfulness as a way to improve creativity?
O: This is a really good question. Mindfulness is so powerful. I’ve been practicing to be mindful (sometimes it’s hard), but I do my best to not be so critical of myself with those moments. I think being mindful can improve one’s creativity by having more awareness in what they want to create and how. For example, for me, being more mindful means to be aware of my surroundings. It brings me back to the present moment if my thoughts start to wonder off and start to worry about the future. This helps me to focus on one thing at a time (especially in my creative process). Most of the time, if we have a lot of things on our mind, we can’t concentrate on what we’re doing.
US: How do you incorporate mindful thinking in your own life?
O: I incorporate mindful thinking in my life by meditating, journaling and nature walks. These three are extremely essential to my day to day routine. It’s a practice. Focusing on my breathing is also another great way I incorporate mindful thinking. It really helps me to calm down and really check in with my body. Building a healthy relationship with my body is also very important for me when it comes to mindful thinking. I do my best to listen to it and nurture it. Nature walks are my absolute favorite. Nature really allows me to focus on what’s in front of me and to appreciate the simple things.
US: Part of your mission is to spread messages of self-love and encouraging soul work to you audience. What is your experience with these topics, and have you had any positive feedback from your followers?
O: My artwork is based in personal experiences. I am my own healing journey and I want to share it with others in hopes that it helps others too. I’ve always been an optimistic person and I love helping others, but I’m also learning that I don’t need to over-do it. For example, I do not pressure myself into creating artwork or posting on IG. It is so easy to get wrapped up with social media and I have to remind myself that I can take a break at any moment.
I’ve had so much positive feedback from my friends and followers. It’s been so heart warming to receive DMs from individuals saying that my messages resonate with them and that my work has been helping them get through tough times. Sometimes that is so crazy to me because it reaffirms that I am not alone in this journey and never will be.
US: Lastly, do you practice any crafts, like needlepoint?
O: I actually love to make collages with magazine images. Collage art is so expressive, fun and therapeutic for me. It’s almost like a game to see what I can recreate with the photos from magazines. It’s my favorite because there are no rules to it. I can do whatever I want with collages and they don’t even need to make sense!
Her beautiful collection of needlepoint kits can be found here!
We hope you are feeling inspired to incorporate mindful thinking techniques into your life, if you don't practice them already, and to explore your creativity freely!
Our "Learning Needlepoint" short video series is ready for you! Take a look, and get ready to start having some fun with this amazing craft technique.
Access our needlepoint booklet for free! Easy instructions on how to start, and a library of our favorite stitches are waiting for you :)
Sharing with you 6 reasons why crafts are good for your well-being and mental health.