It has surprised me to learn how many of my creative and performing artist clients are burdened by physical problems. Almost every client has a persistent, chronic ailment of some sort, many of the mysterious variety that can’t seem to get diagnosed properly. What is going on? Well, sometimes it must be the following. Sometimes the cause of the pain must be not creating. No one doubts that there is a mind/body connection. That being the case, if you are manufacturing stress by avoiding creating you will likely end up with some physical complaint.
Artists regularly fail to suspect that avoiding creating might be the cause of their chronic ailment. But mustn’t it be hard on the body to refuse to create when you know that you really must? When we ask ourselves a question like, “Wouldn’t I feel better if I got to my art more often?” we usually mean, “Wouldn’t I feel emotionally better?” or “Wouldn’t I feel existentially better?” But we should also frame the question as “Wouldn’t I feel physically better if I got to my art more often?” The answer is quite likely yes.
No medical doctor can make this connection for you. Few therapists or life coaches will bring up this possibility, either. Nor is the matter at all simple! It is stressful not to create and that stress can produce physical problems. But it is ALSO stressful to create, as you struggle to realize your vision, accomplish work that satisfies you, sell that work in the difficult art marketplace, and so on. Both creating and not creating can produce stress. Each can lead to headaches, stomachaches, and all sorts of ailments. What then to do, if both can lead to physical malaise?
Next week we’ll look at some answers. This week, I’d like you to think about the following question: “Is there a connection between my relationship to creating and my physical health?” If you’d like to share your answer with me, I’d love to hear. Drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know your thoughts (or comment on this post). I may share some reader responses – I’m sure we’re all eager to hear what folks have to say about this issue! I look forward to hearing your thoughts.