Creativity and play are healing!

It’s impossible to feel creative or have fun while the fight or flight stress response is activated. It’s also impossible for your body’s cells to heal or detoxify during stress.

It makes sense that the opposite is true: when the body is not experiencing a stress response, it’s able to heal, repair, detoxify, digest and rebuild. To that end, being creative and scheduling fun is preventative medicine! It’s healthy for the body and for the mind. Many artists feel surges of inspiration after difficult situations and experience emotional healing through artistic expression.

Play and fun for the sake of having fun is severely underrated and may even be looked down upon, unless you’re a child or a dog. But grown-ups really should to have fun, too, ideally offline and outside! Just like trauma can inspire creativity and healing, fun can create a buoyancy that triggers kindness, generosity and compassion.

Here’s an example of a grown-up who combines healing and fun in her writing. Nancy Alexander from Orange, Virginia writes a blog, Alexander’s Ark. Her pieces often feature one or more of her eleven dogs, who are experts in play! Check it out for her writing, as well as pictures of her pups.

Here’s something that Nancy wrote, and gave me permission to post, that’s both fun and healing to read:

The Visits

A very tiny, very proper little lady lives in a plastic box in my bedroom. She pipes up every time one of the security sensors gets in a snit.

In her modulated voice, she announces “master bedroom, window two.” She doesn’t articulate an event, she doesn’t raise her voice. She just politely announces the offending sensor under potential attack.

I should just unplug her, but that feels rude. And I am yet to convey to her that if ten dogs aren’t noting a breach, we likely don’t have a bad guy with his big toe over the property line, much less coming in to avail himself of dirty dog beds or long forgotten leftovers.

At night, she generally sleeps like the rest of us. Except for the last Wednesday this past May, two days before I was leaving for my mother’s memorial service. About 2 AM, she announced, a bit of panic in her voice, I thought, “back door, back door.” I bolted up, heart pounding, as she repeated herself in that persistent chant. “Back door.”

I grabbed my baseball bat, ready to defend my castle, and then realized that the dogs were yet to lift a lazy eye lid. I crept to both my back doors. All secure. All quiet.

As my mom prepared for her journey from this life, I asked her to send me a sign when she arrived safely to her new being. I always ask this of my loved animals when there is time, and I always get that sign. A clock that hasn’t worked in months will leap to life with a loud “tick-tock” for a few hours. A wind chime will sing out on a perfectly still day. What I didn’t expect was my mom to dive through the security system and scare the bejesus out of me. I swear it was her because this never happened before the day she died.

It has happened since. The dogs never react. The system is not set because I primarily have it for the fire protection. Last night, Ms. ADT chirped out again about the back door. This time I didn’t even get up. I smiled, wished my mom well, and rolled over knowing she was watching over me.

So, at your earliest convenience, consider sitting down with a pen and paper… or paint and canvas… or charcoal and parchment… or needle and thread… or needles and yarn… or fingers and clay… or fingers and paint… and create! Or, grab your dog, friend or family member and go have some fun, just for the sake of having fun.

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